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I can only speak for what's going on in my program (MGH IHP) but I've heard that other programs are similar... 

I'm a current 1st year CSD student at the MGH IHP and I'm dropping a quick note (before the chaos of finals weeks begins) to recommend that you DEFER your admissions offer. As you all know these are challenging and chaotic times with many looming questions and very few answers. But I want to share my personal experience so that you know what might be on the horizon for you if you start at MGH IHP this fall...

  1. All of our summer classes are online (and nobody knows how long this will go on for)
    • for 1st year students this will mean 10 hours of virtual classes on Wednesdays with electives and a few other classes spread throughout the rest of the week, this could change but as it stands that is our summer Y1 schedule
  2. No financial transparency from the institute! 
    • the IHP maintains that their quality of instruction remains the same, and as such are not discussing lowering tuition for students in the midst of this worldwide pandemic 
    • for me this means that even though I was anticipating a summer placement, I will only receive clinical practicum hours this summer online through virtual Simucase practice
    • our class has made an effort to negotiate lowering general student fees and getting transparency about what where tuition dollars are going to no avail (though the institute does post some information on their website and in program manuals)
    • (note: fully online courses like prereqs cost $525 per credit-hour but our summer semester courses will cost us $1,364 per credit-hour) 
  3. What about telepractice?
    • right now all the telepractice placements are going to second year students who need their 375 direct client contact hours to meet ASHA certification requirements - which, of course, makes sense!
    • BUT - you could be in my shoes next year when the lasting impact of the quarantine means that your placements go to rising second year students who need extra clinical placements and supervised hours to graduate

Obviously the entire incoming cohort can't defer, and I'm not expecting everyone to want to, but given what is going on if you are on the fence about starting I recommend you consider deferring! Online learning is not for everyone, and grad school already comes with incredibly taxing emotional and financial burdens. If you were most excited about the clinical practicum placements WAIT! Wait until you know they will be available, because no program can guarantee face-to-face practicum placements right now. 

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As a second year student of the 2020 cohort at the Institute of Health Professions, I would like to also recommend that those of you who can defer, do defer.

Today we heard from Paula, the IHP President, as she discouraged students from deferring with the argument that you would be losing out on another year of future employment. I would like to take a moment to discredit this argument and give you examples that I know our cohort has experienced thus far as well as additional information that may help inform your decision.

  • Graduation:
    • First an foremost, we are not guaranteed graduating on time. We are still being made financially responsive for our 4th clinical rotation regardless if we have access to one or not. 
      • As it stands, not having enough hours not graduating until sometime in the fall. Not having enough hours means you could be ineligible for a CF that becomes available regardless if you accepted it unless they are flexible with the start date. 
      • This WILL have a ripple effect on the current first years and potentially the incoming class. We have an extremely unorganized clinical placement team (the word team is used VERY loosely as it is two women who do the absolute MINIMUM to accommodate any requests) that will NOT give you the placements you have requested regardless of whether we are in a worldwide emergency or not. 
  • Placements:
    • Medical placements: Contrary to what you were told during your campus visit, the IHP NEVER guarantees MEDICAL placements and are not legally affiliated with Mass General Hospital. This tidbit of info is only expressed when you begin creating your resumes (to discourage you from listing their name as anything other than "MGH" ) to apply for placements in your first summer.
    • Diversity: People of color, STAY AWAY. You will be made to commute (average 2 hours each way) because most of the local organizations within Partners Healthcare are known to be discriminatory towards students of color and it will be additionally difficult for you to pursue more competitive medical placements if you are EVEN given the opportunity to interview for them. Also, bilingual supervisors are nonexistent and if you are a student of color you will be exploited to fill every website, newsletter, and advertisement to falsely convey a "commitment to diversity." 
  • Job opportunities
    • Medical CFs: As we are currently applying to CFs, it has been very clear that some medical clinical fellowships (outside of dedicated medical CFs) are NOT hiring within the already competitive nature of those limited opportunities due to COVID. Additionally, if you do not have the experience in a medical placement you will not get a medical CF unless you are pursuing a SNF opportunity. Additionally, MA is a state that does not recognize a provisional licensure so if your intention is to work with adults or in EI after graduation, look in another state. 
    • School CFs: Keep this in mind, if you are looking for a school based SLP career, there is less pressure to have specific experiences and they are ALWAYS hiring. 
  • Transparency:
    • There is absolutely no transparency unless the student body goes into an uproar. 
    • You will never fully know where your money is going. 
    • They WILL tell you that you are receiving the same excellent education regardless of the modality. This is NOT true. 
      • The faculty members (outside of maybe 2) are burned out alumni that have little to no well-rounded experience. There is one faculty member of color who is used to meet a requirement but most are pretty much out of touch of what it means to be in the field. Additionally, when you are completing simucase to replace the valuable information you get during your clinical placements and having debriefs these faculty members are uninformed of how to respond to questions. OR they will say "I am just here to facilitate the conversation." Your peers, while lovely, are NOT licensed SLPs and are not supervisors educated to work through some of the complex aspects of the case presented. Therefore, you should not be required to submissively accept this subpar experience or be charged full price for it. 
  • Advocacy
    • Students who advocate for themselves and others WILL BE PENALIZED both academically and clinically. This institution is cyclically delinquent in social equity to any student in the following categories: students of color, students with disabilities, students of low socioeconomic backgrounds, LGBTQ students, and students who are parents.
      • Each of you will be expected to serve as the human spokesperson of what ever label they assign you and will be appropriately pigeonholed into a subspecialty to help avoid a "conflict of interest."

Outside of the current COVID-19 situation, the learning experience overall at the IHP provided me with certain unique opportunities that my other friends in programs in other parts of the nation did not have access to. Granted my friends in other programs also did not have the emotionally taxing experiences of having to prove their worth or fight against invisible hurdles that the IHP places in front of you when you are anything but a traditional monolingual Caucasian student. Additionally as someone who is glass half full, I will add that experiencing the garbage and discrimination brought a level of growth that my previously 'privileged' life had not provided me with.

That being said, unless this is the ONLY program that accepted you, think very carefully about deferring or accepting another program promising a well rounded experience. You are worth it. This is your money, $100,000 dollars should at least buy you the truth. 

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12 minutes ago, futurespeechpath1 said:

I see where you are coming from but personally I do not want to defer my admission since I'm not guaranteed admission the next cycle. 

It looks like you accepted your offer to St. Marys, congrats! But I think this post may be just for those students who were accepted into MGH Institute of Health Professions. 

Edited by ABI_all_the_way
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1 hour ago, ABI_all_the_way said:

It looks like you accepted your offer to St. Marys, congrats! But I think this post may be just for those students who were accepted into MGH Institute of Health Professions. 

Thank you! I actually declined St. Mary's that's why I had it crossed out. But okay I see what you mean, good luck! :)

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My plan is to accept my offer (not to MGH specifically but to a different program), then reevaluate once we hear what's going on in the fall... if things were to be moved online, I'm sure programs would understand people backing out and deciding to reapply for the next year. I think it's a little too soon to assume that things will for sure be online in the fall (although I do agree there's definitely a good chance that that could happen!)

Edited by SLPfall2020
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I already turned in my resignation for teaching for next year so I feel like I have to start grad school in the fall. I'm going to hate if I have to do it online but realllllly hoping that won't happen. Ugh this stresses me out like you wouldn't even believe. I'm pretty sure I'd go crazy if I was still stuck in my house doing things online in the fall 

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I'm a second-year at UVM and I also recommend that students defer if possible. I've had a great experience at my program, and they have done a pretty good job of working with us through this, but they're also not offering reduced tuition that I know of. They are having first year students do teletherapy, so you might still get some hours, but everything is still so uncertain that I wouldn't want anyone to start and find out that placements are still in jeopardy next summer. There could be second and third waves of COVID into at least the fall, and until we have a vaccine, or at least a really effective treatment, there might still be periodic shutdowns to cope with it.

We typically have our medical placements in the summer, and it would suck for entering first years to not get that experience or to have it pushed back and delay school placements. Our current first years are in a terrible position right now as far as placements are concerned and I really feel for them and wouldn't want anyone else to go through that.

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HI!! I actually recommend not deferring DEPENDING ON THE PROGRAM. See if you can find grad students from your program and ask how it's been going for them. If the program is being transparent, has telepractice in place, and was prepared for online learning it can still be an awesome experience and by the time you're in your externships in a year things should either have calmed down or we'll have a new normal that we'll have to adapt to anyway. 

 

I'm a first year and my program is handling things really well. I'm bummed, miserable, and have cried a lot. But telepractice is going well and it is what it is. I say jump in if it works for you. 

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