Eligibility Requirements and Essential Functions for Students
Revised Fall 2013
Schwarz, I., Horner, J., Jackson, R., Johnstone, P., Mulligan, M. (2007). Defining essential functions for a diverse student population. Minneapolis, MN: Council on Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders.
In order to acquire the knowledge and skills requisite to the practice of speech-language pathology to function in a broad variety of clinical situations, and to render a wide spectrum of patient care across the lifespan, individuals must have skills and attributes in five areas: communication, motor, intellectual-cognitive, sensory-observational, and behavioral-social. These skills enable a student to meet graduate and professional requirements as measured by state licensure and national certification. Many of these skills can be learned and developed during the course of the graduate program through coursework and clinical experience. The starred items (*), however, are skills that are more inherent and should be present when a student begins the program.
A student must possess adequate communication skills to:
- Proficiently read, write, comprehend, and speak the English language.*
- Model target communication skills, unless a clinician’s dialect prevents the effective modeling of a feature. In this case, other strategies to provide a model should be used.*
- Possess reading and writing skills sufficient to meet curricular and clinical demands in Standard American English.*
- Perceive and demonstrate appropriate non-verbal communication for culture and context.*
- Modify communication style to meet the communication needs of clients, caregivers, and other persons served.*
- Communicate professionally and intelligibly with patients, colleagues, other healthcare professionals, and community or professional groups.
- Communicate professionally, effectively, and legibly on patient documentation, reports, and scholarly papers required as a part of coursework and professional practice.
- Convey information accurately with relevance and cultural sensitivity.
A student must possess adequate motor skills to:
- Sustain necessary physical activity level in required classroom and clinical activities, including but not limited to the ability to bend, reach, and stoop in order to move, lift, carry, push, and pull objects such as in the retrieval, using, and storing of materials and equipment used in evaluations and therapy.*
- Assist with patient care activities such as lifting, wheelchair guidance, and mobility.*
- Respond quickly to provide a safe environment for clients in emergency situations including fire, choking, respiratory arrest, etc.*
- Access transportation to clinical and academic placements as well as transport self throughout the setting as required.*
- Participate in classroom and clinical activities for the defined workday.*
- Efficiently manipulate testing and treatment environment and materials without violation of testing protocol and with best therapeutic practice.
- Manipulate patient-utilized equipment (e.g. durable medical equipment to include AAC devices, hearing aids, etc) in a safe manner.
- Access technology for clinical management (i.e. billing, charting, therapy programs, etc.).
- A student must possess adequate intellectual and cognitive skills to:
- Comprehend, retain, integrate, synthesize, infer, evaluate and apply written and verbal information sufficient to meet curricular and clinical demands.*
- Complete timed, online, and/or other types of examinations or projects in a setting that is acceptable to the program.
- Identify significant findings from history, evaluation, and data to formulate a diagnosis and develop a treatment plan.
- Solve problems, reason, and make sound clinical judgments in patient assessment, diagnostic and therapeutic plan and implementation.
- Self-evaluate, identify, and communicate limits of one’s own knowledge and skill to appropriate professional level and be able to identify and utilize resources in order to increase knowledge.
- Utilize detailed written and verbal instruction in order to make unique and independent decisions.
A student must possess adequate sensory skills of vision, hearing, tactile, and smell to:
- Visually and auditorily identify normal versus disordered areas (including, but not limited to fluency, articulation, voice, resonance, respiration characteristics, oral and written language in the areas of semantics, pragmatics, syntax, morphology and phonology, hearing and balance disorders, swallowing, cognition, and social interaction related to communication).
- Identify the need for alternative modalities of communication.
- Visualize and identify anatomic structures.
- Visualize and discriminate imaging findings.
- Identify and discriminate findings on imaging studies.
- Discriminate text, numbers, tables, and graphs associated with diagnostic instruments and tests.
- Acutely hear differences in speech impairments and modify therapy as required.
- Recognize when a client’s family does or does not understand the clinician’s written and or verbal communication.
A student must possess adequate behavioral and social attributes to:
- Display mature empathetic and effective professional relationships by exhibiting compassion, integrity, and concern for others.*
- Recognize and show respect for individuals with disabilities and for individuals of different ages, genders, race, religions, sexual orientation, and cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.*
- Conduct oneself in an ethical and legal manner, upholding the ASHA Code of Ethics and university and federal privacy policies.*
- Maintain general good physical and mental health and self-care in order not to jeopardize the health and safety of self and others in the academic and clinical setting.*
- Adapt to changing and demanding environments (which includes maintaining both professional demeanor and emotional health).
- Manage the use of time effectively to complete professional and technical tasks within realistic time constraints.
- Accept appropriate suggestions and constructive criticism and respond by modification of behaviors.
- Dress appropriately and professionally.