MAILED: Oct. 9, 1997|
EAU CLAIRE -- "It's a sharing process. We learn from them and they learn from us," graduate student Melissa Kramer said of working at the Center for Communication Disorders at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
The Center for Communication Disorders gives communication disorders majors and graduate students the opportunity to use their knowledge in a professional setting, and it provides an economical service to the Chippewa Valley, said Alan Gallaher, director of clinical programs.
"The clinic provides a practical teaching experience for the students, and it serves the entire Chippewa Valley," Gallaher said. "For the students to learn how to do speech and language therapy, they need actual clients to work with. We have a wide range of clients."
Gallaher said all undergraduate students are required to do therapy in the clinic before graduation, and graduate students must accumulate a certain number of hours in the clinic before they can become accredited therapists.
On the average, the clinic treats about 90 patients on a regular basis throughout each semester and evaluates another 50 patients, he said.
"We help so many different kinds of people here," Gallaher said. "Whether it be pre-school age children or elderly people who come to us in wheelchairs, we try to help them the best way we can."
Children who come to the clinic may have lisps, stuttering problems or delayed speech and language problems, while adults may seek treatment for hearing loss, voice problems or strokes, Gallaher said.
The clinic is free for university students, staff, faculty and their families, he said. Many international students take advantage of the clinic to help with their native accents, while professors may come in for hearing loss consultation, he said.
At any time there is between 35 and 50 students working in the clinic trying to gain the knowledge they need to enter the professional, post-university world, he said.
Many community members come to the clinic because of economics, Gallaher said. "We charge $125 for a semester, which averages out to be about $5 a session," Gallaher said. "That is a big plus for a lot of families."
Tom Sather, a UW-Eau Claire graduate student, said the learning at the clinic is a two-way street. "It really is a two-way thing because we benefit from them and, from a client's perspective, we are very affordable," Sather said.
Another graduate student who is trying to reach her required 350 clinical hours, Joanne Herbenson, said the biggest plus for the students who work at the clinic is the various types of patients they are exposed to.
"We get a variety of clients which, in turn, gives us a variety of different experiences we will be able to take with us," Herbenson said.
The clinic is an essential part of the university's communication disorders program, Gallaher said. "It's an integral part of training for our communication disorder majors," he said. "Also, we really get to treat many people's speech and language problems for a reasonable cost."
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: Oct. 9, 1997