Honors Theses

Date of Award

2013

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Department

Communication Sciences and Disorders

First Advisor

Carolyn Higdon

Relational Format

Dissertation/Thesis

Abstract

This thesis examined the roles of speech-language pathologists (SLPs) within the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). In 2004, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association published a set of policy documents regarding speech-language pathology practice in the NICU. Research compiled in the literature review explained and supported each of the roles listed in the ASHA policy documents. The literature also revealed that very few sources specific to the speech-language pathology field addressed roles other than those related to feeding and swallowing evaluation and intervention. This research investigated ASHA-certified, masters-level SLPs' familiarity with each of their possible roles in the NICU, as well as their opinions about these roles and their preparation for a NICU career upon completion of their graduate programs. An electronic survey was developed to investigate these three areas and was emailed to 518 SLPs from across the United States. One hundred forty (140) surveys were completed. The survey responses indicated that the SLPs were familiar with a majority of their possible roles in the NICU. However, a significant majority of the SLPs did not feel prepared for NICU practice following graduation from graduate school. Further research is needed to determine which topics of education would best help prepare students for careers in the NICU, as well as to support SLPs' involvement in a variety of roles within the NICU.

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