The University of Newcastle, Australia

For our international students, opportunities for global experience aren’t limited to Australia alone.

Bachelor of Speech Pathology students Pui Wing Oleander Lee (Hong Kong), Yu Fan Tan (Malaysia) and Wei Juen Lim (Malaysia) recently travelled to China to complete a clinical placement at Orient Speech Therapy Center Limited (OST).

In a ground-breaking first for both countries, The University of Newcastle has partnered with OST to develop a world-class speech pathology training program for their clinics located across China.

In its early stage of development in China, speech pathology is not offered as a professional program at a tertiary level, which means an inadequate supply of speech pathologists treating serious conditions including autism, swallowing/feeding skills and speech therapy after cleft palate repair.

“I had a wonderful opportunity to spend my last clinical placement block in OST [clinics in Shenzhen, China].

“All student clinicians had the opportunity to collaborate with the OST speech therapists to deliver therapy sessions. We also had the chance to hold two workshops to introduce the use of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems, and the importance of parent involvement in supporting children’s communication development,” said Pui Wing.

Yu Fan said the experience was both challenging and deeply rewarding.

“I learnt a lot of soft skills like how to negotiate with people and how to communicate with parents. As the setting is very complex, it really tested my knowledge and how I would adapt my existing clinical skills into a culturally different setting,” she said.

Wei Juen Lim says she can only describe the experience as ‘eye-opening’.

“Thanks to OST, I have had the opportunity to work in a disability context, by tailoring and providing direct interventions to the children who had diagnosis such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, Vocal Fold Paralysis and Down Syndrome.

“I was also able to share my knowledge to the therapists on other ways to best support these clients to allow the most effective care to be delivered, with the aim of improving client outcomes,” she said.

All three students agree the placement was life-changing in terms of preparing them to work in the real-world.

“After this placement, I will be entering the industry as a new graduate with some prior experience of working in a disability context.

“This will allow me to adapt to any clinical environments more easily, feel less afraid to work with children with a range of disabilities, and have the ability to take on a more variety of caseloads,” said Wei Juen Lim.

Study Speech Pathology

Yu Tan & Wei Lim

Speech Pathology Students

Yu Fan Tan and Wei Juen Lim working with a client and Clinical Supervisor Associate Professor Sally Hewat.

This will allow me to adapt to any clinical environments more easily, feel less afraid to work with children with a range of disabilities, and have the ability to take on a more variety of caseloads.