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MUSC launches new speech-language pathology program

Staff Report //February 26, 2020//

MUSC launches new speech-language pathology program

Staff Report //February 26, 2020//

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The Medical University of South Carolina has launched a new speech-language pathology master’s program aimed at meeting the need for clinicians in the workforce.

Speech-language pathologists evaluate, treat and teach patients who have difficulties communicating and swallowing. Pathologists work in schools and health care settings.

Applications for fall 2021 will open July 15.

Dr. Zoher Kapasi, dean of the MUSC College of Health Professions, said “Our college vision is to improve the health of populations, and this we can do by ensuring that we are training students in different health professions to provide care for the citizens of South Carolina and beyond. The medical focus of our speech-language pathology program fills a critical need that we at MUSC, being the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, can truly address.”

The new program will have a medical emphasis and a foundation in evidence-based education, through which students will learn by doing, according to Dr. Heather S. Bonilha, director of the speech-language pathology division.

The curriculum will include academics and clinical opportunities in areas such as head and neck cancer, pediatric dysphagia, cranial facial anomalies and genetic disorders, and tracheostomy and ventilator dependence.

Bonilha said, “This is knowledge and clinical training that practitioners will need to know especially if they plan to work in a medical care setting. But it can also be important to students who chose to work in a school-based setting, as more children who attend school have complex medical conditions.”

Courses will be taught in an interactive learning environment with little classroom lecturing, according to a news release. Students will practice and demonstrate their skills and knowledge through independent and group work, clinical experiences, patient interactions and simulations.

More than 20 MUSC speech-language pathologists will serve as clinical educators and leaders. Clinical speech-language pathologists will also be integrated with MUSC’s College of Health Professions faculty to provide insight, knowledge and skills in specialty areas and continuity between the didactic and clinical coursework.

MUSC spokeswoman Heather Woolwine said the speech-language pathology is brand-new to the university and it does not currently offer an undergraduate program. The University of South Carolina, S.C. State University and Francis Marion University offer similar graduate programs.