Elmhurst College marked a significant achievement this year, when all 15 students in its first-ever graduate cohort in Communication Sciences and Disorders passed the Praxis national certification exam on their very first try.
A nationally recognized measure of how well students meet established learning goals, the Praxis exam is a high-stakes test and an essential step toward earning national certification as a qualified speech-language pathologist.
The Praxis exam requires additional test attempts for as many as 10 percent of test takers nationwide.
Students and faculty say that Elmhurst’s extraordinary success reflects the program’s attention to each student, high-quality academics, extraordinary clinical mentorship, and diverse opportunities for real-world experience.
“What we strive for is immediate application,” said Brenda Gorman, director of the graduate program. “Students are not merely sitting in a classroom. Our cohesive curriculum is designed for students to learn and apply.”
Indeed, this high-quality education paid off in the job market, too—every one of this year’s graduates who sought a job received an offer within two months of graduating. Today, you’ll find Elmhurst CSD graduates working as speech-language pathologists at such places as Gigi’s Playhouse, Indian Prairie School District and Premier Pediatric Therapy.
“The professors are experts in the field and have been published,” said Christa Payton, CSD ’15, who accepted a job as a speech-language pathologist at Kirkwood Early Childhood Center in Missouri. “They bring real-world knowledge and application, and they draw a bridge between the text and how it applies to clients.”
Real-world experience at Elmhurst begins on campus, where students work directly with clients in the College’s own Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic. Students also have access to the state-of-the-art Elmhurst College Simulation Center at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital, where they use technology to practice interpreting data, making diagnoses and counseling patients and families. Off campus, Elmhurst staff go the extra mile to connect students with the best clinical practica and fieldwork opportunities.
“We were very fortunate to have such a variety of placement options, including schools and hospitals,” said Brittany Nolan, CSD ’15, a speech-language pathologist at Krejci Academy, an educational program for students with autism. “It really helped to prepare me.”
Elmhurst’s graduate program, launched in 2013 in response to demand from Elmhurst undergraduates and others, prepares students for careers as speech-language pathologists in professional settings such as schools, hospitals, clinics, research institutions and private practice. A graduate degree is required for professional practice.
“The teaching staff really wanted us to succeed,” added Payton. ”I didn’t feel like I was just a number or like I was lost in the shuffle. The professors are focused on the students and our success.”