This month's cover story on audiology externships got me thinking about my own undergraduate experience at the University of Cincinnati. One of the reasons that I chose UC was its co-op program—invented by the university in 1906—which allows students to alternate terms of full-time work with full-time classes in order to graduate with substantial career experience.
As a journalism major, co-ops weren't recommended by my department, and instead, I was told to hold off until my fourth year of study and get an internship. Luckily I had a little more foresight and wanted to get an early start on my experience sophomore year, but when it came time to start the search, there were no job boards, internship sites, or career services available. I had to do my own research, pray that there were publishing opportunities available, and hope that the internship would be beneficial.
During my fourth year, the journalism program was a little more developed and when I went to the head of the department to ask for internship suggestions, she recommended a local women's business newspaper that I was not aware of prior to my interview.
My time there was great—I was able to improve my interviewing style, write a lot of articles and and get news clips, and represent the publication at professional meetings—until the paper folded a little more than halfway into my internship, and I was once again left alone to find a substitute placement.
I realize journalism is not a professional degree like audiology, but as a prior student left to find my own work experience prior to graduation, I can attest to the frustration of going about it on your own; and the lack of awareness about what options were available to me and which experiences would be most beneficial for my talent and specific needs. Students should not be left alone to do this.
As one source in the cover story points out, “the externship is not a job.” This training is a part of the curriculum and educational experience, and oversight is not only helpful, but necessary.
TIME FOR SOLUTIONS
While the list of factors clouding the standardization of externships is clearly substantial, perhaps the time has come to finally put the rubber to the road and not just debate the many issues that come into question, but to put forth a concerted effort to create standards once and for all.
That is easier said than done, of course, but with this being an issue so critical to the professional development of the future of this field, it certainly warrants a serious collaborative effort to ensure continuing support from preceptors and valuable experiences for students.
On the heels of our look into this multifaceted issue, members of the Northeast Ohio AuD Consortium (NOAC) have put together a series on precepting.
In the four-part series, Sharon Lesner, PhD, professor of audiology at the University of Akron and coordinator of NOAC; Craig Newman, PhD, head of the audiology section at the Cleveland Clinic; and Sharon A. Sandridge, PhD, director of Clinical Services in Audiology and co-director of the Tinnitus Management Clinic and Audiology Research Lab at the Cleveland Clinic, will provide an in-depth guideline to becoming a better clinical preceptor.
Part one will look at the fundamentals of precepting, with an overview of the precepting model. The second part will explore the clinic as a classroom and how to create learning opportunities and a good learning environment, while part three will address students as adult learners, looking at the adult learning theory. The final piece of the series—evaluation—will discuss different forms of evaluation and the importance of providing feedback, as well as managing difficult students. Look out for part one in the May issue.