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hopeful medical slp looking for advice

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With graduate decision deadlines looming, I'm struggling and split between SDSU and UW (MedSLP).

As someone looking to go into the medical field, UW would probably be the obvious choice, but the in-state tuition and financial aid from SDSU would help me finish the program without taking out additional loans.  As much as I'd love to go to UW, I worry that the great medical experience and opportunities I'd gain there wouldn't justify the loans I'd have to take out for the $60k tuition, especially as I support my sibling who will be starting college when I finish this program.  

There are not a lot of programs like UW's that offer the MedSLP track.  With that being said, there are a lot of highly qualified and fantastic SLPs working in hospitals that came from programs that do not have a medical specialty (although the MedSLP alumni I met transitioned to hospital positions a lot faster).  It will be imperative to do my CFY in a hospital following either program--but especially at SDSU, where a hospital/medical internship may not be guaranteed as it would be at UW.  

My questions then are

1) for students in SDSU's cohort--how is/was it for you going through the program, especially if you are looking to work in the medical setting?  If you graduated, how long did it take you to transition into that arena?  Were you able to complete your spring internship in a hospital?  If not, how was your experience finding medically-related CFYs?

2) for students in UW's MedSLP program--what was the deciding factor for you personally?  I know there are a lot of great opportunities at UW, but then again there are amazing opportunities in any certified program if you put in the effort.  So what made you choose this program over all the others, especially if funding from other programs were involved?

3) for anyone who relates with difficulty making the right decision--why did you choose the program you chose?  Or if you haven't chosen yet, what is keeping you from choosing?

Thank you for your help in advance :-) Please share your thoughts or insights, I would love to hear them!

Edited by schmauds
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Every SLP I have spoken to, both medical and school SLPs, have said to go with the option that will put you in the least amount of debt. There really aren't any "medical programs," because ASHA's standards are uniform for all programs. There are programs with a few more medically-based courses, but not having those does not mean that you cannot ultimately work in a medical setting. The advice I have gotten from medical SLPs (many of whom were not graduates of a self-proclaimed "medical SLP program") is to do your internship and externship placements in medical settings, do a great job, and have a good relationship with your supervisors. Your experience in your placements and your CF will help you get into the setting you ultimately want to be in.

Good luck!

Edited by ObsessLP
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@schmauds Although I can't give you specific answers about the schools you are deciding between, I was in the same predicament. I am wanting to go into the medical field (specifically with peds) - my ultimate dream job would be working in a children's hospital someday. I was deciding between my in-state school (URI) vs. the more medically focused/"prestigious" schools such as BU, Northeastern, and MGH. Since I wasn't offered any funding, all of those schools are about 100K in tuition and my in-state school is a third of that. I wasn't sure if getting into THAT much debt was worth it and if it could be justified by the experiences and the opportunities I would have. I follow a couple of SLP blogs (specifically SLPs who work in the medical pediatric sector), so,  I decided to email them and see if I could pick their brains. Every. single. one. emailed back saying, GO FOR THE MORE AFFORDABLE OPTION! One in particular (who has been on a couple of hiring teams) said that she NEVER looks at where a CF candidate went to school. She said "it is not so much where you went to grad school that makes you a fit for a job during an interview, as much as it is YOU……how you think and express yourself, your GPA, your references from clinical supervisors who speak to your problem-solving and critical reflective thinking, your personal attributes and how you have further educated yourself beyond grad school." Therefore, as much as I still believe BU, Northeastern and MGH are great programs, I can not bring myself to get into that much debt, especially after getting this advice from people who are working within the field. I have decided to attend my in-state school, and I am actually pretty excited about it. I really do not believe that my education is going to be subpar, and I definitely think I am going to get more than enough experience in order to pursue my dream job in the medical field.

Deciding between schools has probably been the most difficult part for me, so, I definitely understand your need to make sure that you are making the right decision. However, if SDSU gives you the opportunity to graduate debt-free, I think that's the option I would choose (especially if you take some of the money you would save by not going to UW to further educate yourself by taking CEUs etc.). With that being said, I really don't know much about either program and sometimes it does come down to more than just the cost - like the location, or if you felt one program was a better fit for you over the other. 

Anyways, I thought I would walk you through my thinking and explain why I decided the way I did - I hope it helps!      

Good luck deciding between the two.        

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@ObsessLP@MegSLP Thank you both for your honest input--you each brought up really great points and it's true that the work we put during and after the program will be one of the strongest reflections of us as future SLPs.  I wish you both the best in your future programs!

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I think the other two posters made some good points, but I also wanted to mention that I have a friend that graduate from SDSU a few years ago and was able to get a position in the medical field soon after. It was harder for her to get a job in San Diego at first, but once her local placement heard she was going to move out of state for a job they decided to offer her one at their hospital. So it is possible to do a Med focus, and they are known to be a strong program as well.

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