Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences In Focus: Michelle Ramacca, '14
Tell us about your path to Hofstra University and why you decided to pursue the Audiology program.
I began my undergraduate education at Hofstra University with a goal to obtain my bachelor’s degree in speech-language pathology. As an undergraduate, I took classes in both speech and audiology, and found both professions to be interesting and rewarding in their own ways. It was not until my senior year, particularly at the last minute when contemplating graduate school, that I decided audiology was the right choice for me. I was fortunate enough in my undergraduate program to have the opportunity to observe both speech-language pathologists and audiologists in a clinical setting, and I felt a closer connection with the field of audiology. Many people believe audiology simply involves “pushing a button when you hear a beep,” but in reality, there is so much more to the field that many people are unaware of, including hearing aids, electrophysiologic testing, cochlear implants, and balance testing, to name a few things, which really helped me to connect to the field and make my decision. As I am nearing the end of my graduate program, I can say with full confidence that I made the right choice for myself!
Tell us about your practicum experiences.
Since our program is set up as a consortium, I had the benefit to rotate between the in-house clinics of Hofstra, Adelphi, and St. John’s Universities prior to outside experiences. The in-house clinical rotations, as a first-year student with limited clinical experience, made me feel comfortable and allowed me to build my clinical skills with help from faculty clinicians who were knowledgeable in regards not only to the field, but also to allowing students to grow independently as future clinicians. Each school’s clinic had a little something different to offer in terms of audiologic services, such as central auditory processing disorder (CAPD) testing and aural rehabilitation sessions offered at St. John’s, which exposed me to different settings and various areas of the field, which I appreciated. The transition from in-house to external clinical settings was smooth and allowed my fellow classmates and me to continue to build our clinical skills in settings such as private practices, hospitals, ENT offices, and schools. Overall, the program did a nice job of allowing me to have a well-rounded clinical experience in various settings with various patient populations.
Describe the benefits of studying at the consortium made up of Hofstra, Adelphi, and St. John’s.
As mentioned earlier, the opportunity to rotate between the schools’ in-house clinics prior to external clinical rotations is certainly beneficial. In regards to classes, the consortium allows students to learn from professors who specialize in certain areas of audiology, such as vestibular testing and rehabilitation, which helps us to have an in-depth understanding of these topics.
What inspires you most about the profession?
To quote Helen Keller, "blindness separates us from things, but deafness separates us from people."Through the field of audiology, I can see the negative impact any hearing loss can have on an individual on many different levels. Hearing loss can cause isolation, depression, anxiety, among many other negative feelings, and not only does it affect the individual, but it can also affect those around them. Having the ability to positively change the quality of someone’s life through helping them hear better and once again feel connected to their world is invaluable. Building a relationship with your patients and providing them with counseling and solutions to better hearing is truly a rewarding experience, and makes this profession one that I am truly grateful to be a part of.
What are your goals for the future and how will the program help you reach them?
Through my external clinical rotations, I have had the opportunity to work with a wide variation of patient populations varying in age and abilities. I have experienced various work environments, including schools, ENT practices, and private practices, which have allowed me to formulate a general idea of where I would like to one day practice. It is hard for me to say at this point in time exactly what I would like for myself for the future, but I have really been enjoying my experience at my fourth year placement working with the middle-aged to geriatric population at a private practice, and would love to continue working in this setting in the future.
What advice would you give others considering this program at Hofstra?
For anyone considering this program at Hofstra, I would recommend reaching out to current students to obtain a greater understanding of what the program is truly able to accomplish through a student’s perspective. I know for me, who was torn between speech pathology and audiology until the very last minute, it was important to really understand what this career entails, and speaking to students and faculty members, in addition to observing working SLPs and audiologists, really guided me to make the right choice for myself!