Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Griffith Speech Pathology School student’s story

She sells sea-shells on the sea-shore.
The shells she sells are sea-shells, I’m sure.
For if she sells sea-shells on the sea-shore
Then I’m sure she sells sea-shore shells.

Did you garble that one? So did we.

When most people think about speech pathology, they probably think of the study of helping people who stutter or have a lisp. While it’s true that speech pathologists do help with those issues, their scope of practice is a whole lot broader, including speech delays, fluency, voice and resonance, swallowing and feeding, cognitive-communication, literacy… and much more!

OzTREKK recently spoke with Ritoo Bhardwaj, a current Griffith Speech Pathology student. Originally from Vancouver, Ritoo first earned a bachelor’s degree in linguistics and psychology with a focus on child language development at Simon Fraser University. Here’s her story!

Griffith University Speech Pathology
Ready for a day at the races at the Gold Coast Turf Club

Why speech pathology at Griffith University?

I became interested in speech pathology when I watched my grandmother go through speech therapy to help her communication after her stroke. I’ve always had an interest in child language development and working with children with special needs, in particular children on the ASD (Autism spectrum disorder); Therefore, I decided to do something that meshed both of these interests together, which happened to be speech pathology! Stroke patients and children with special needs are just two populations of many that require support for their speech and language skills, which is why this career is so appealing. There are so many different paths you can take, making a difference in each one!

After applying into the Canadian system for four consecutive years to no avail, I chose to try my luck applying abroad. Griffith University stood out as a program that I wanted to go to because of the way the program was laid out: It is only two years in length, uses problem-based learning (PBL) for all topics, and provides clinical experience right away, starting in the first week of classes. Hands-on learning has always been of importance to me, and this program allows you to apply everything you learn to real environments. I would really recommend this program to anyone considering it!

Griffith University Speech Pathology
A graffiti artwork display in Hozier Lane, downtown Melbourne!

What’s not to love?

I absolutely love the program! Every day we get to learn about amazing topics which are delivered in interesting ways, be it through a problem-based learning session, a clinical skills tutorial, or a specialist lecture in which a renowned professional delivers a lecture to us incorporating firsthand experience. Every topic we cover in PBL is supported by lectures and clinical practice, which consolidates your knowledge on that topic. It really is amazing how Griffith has structured this program to best teach their students.

Tough love

I knew coming into the program that is was going to be a tough one, but I have to say, it was even harder than expected! Since it is a condensed two-year program (others are two-and-a-half years), you have a lot on your plate at any given time in the semester, which leaves you with little spare time. That being said, you have a wonderful supportive cohort and professors to guide you and keep you on the right track. Also, the first-year speechies are linked up with the second-year speechies in a mentorship program, which provides the first years with all the tips and tricks to do well on assignments and exams.

Griffith University Speech Pathology
The famous Brisbane sign in Southbank, Brisbane

Accreditation process

I plan to come back to Canada to work post-uni. I will need to write the Canadian board exam which will allow me to transfer my credentials from Australia to Canada. Since I will be graduating in October, I will have to wait until the following March to write my exam and start the process of transferring my courses over. Although this is a tedious and lengthy process, the director of the program ensures that the Canadian students meet all the required hours and coursework criteria prior to the last semester of courses, so we know we are in good standing when we finish.

Griffith University Speech Pathology
Ritoo’s favourite place, Burleigh Heads!

Where to live?

I signed up for accommodation with the Griffith University Village while I was still in Canada because I wanted the comfort of being close to campus for my first semester while I got oriented with the new location. This was a mistake! The village is not cut out for people studying in a program as intense as the speech path masters. It is a very young crowd, and there is lots of partying at all hours of the day (and night). It is also very pricey for what you get, about $275/week for a five-bedroom apartment. So if you are looking for a quiet place to stay I would not recommend GUV.

I am now living about 20 minutes away from campus in Surfer’s Paradise and paying only $210 a week for a two-bedroom apartment only a couple minutes’ walk to the beach!  You can find lots of options on Flatmates, and some other suburbs to look for include Southport, Ashmore, Labrador and Main Beach. I love the beaches! It is so beautiful on the Gold Coast; any free minute I get, I head to the beach to soak in the sun! The people here are so great, very friendly and always happy to help.

Advice for newbies?

Do it! It’s such a great experience! The university is great, with relatively new facilities and lots of places to study and eat. The tram line stops at Griffith University station and the Gold Coast University Hospital station, so it’s pretty easy to take transit to and from. There are a few shopping areas nearby the uni to get groceries: Australia Fair and Harbour Town; however, beware, all the shops close early every day except for Thursdays, which is “late-night shopping day.” I’ve found most of the products I would shop for back home, and the prices are relatively the same for most things. However, coffee and makeup are really expensive, so bring your own!

Master of Speech Pathology at Griffith University

The speech pathology program at Griffith is located in their $150-million purpose-built Griffith Health Centre, which is part of an exciting Health and Knowledge Precinct which also incorporates the new $1.76-billion Gold Coast University Hospital.

Program: Master of Speech Pathology
Location: Gold Coast, Queensland
Trimester intake: February
Duration: 2 years
Application deadline: Candidates are encouraged to apply as early as possible.

Entry requirements
To be eligible to apply, applicants must have
  • completed an undergraduate degree (not in speech pathology) with a minimum GPA of 5.0. While there are no prerequisite study areas for admission, desirable areas include psychology, health science, public health, medical science, human services, education, and linguistics; and
  • a satisfactory performance in an interview with the Program Convenor.
As the number of applicants may exceed the places available, selection for admission is competitive and will be based upon (1) academic merit and (2) interview.

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