Background: This study arose as the Course Leader sought feedback on the adequacy of the programme to prepare new graduates for professional practice.
Aims: The aim was to examine how well an undergraduate degree programme prepared speech pathology graduates for the workforce, focussing on a range of core competencies including theoretical knowledge, clinical skills and professionalism.
Methods & Procedures: Thirty new graduates and 30 employers were approached to participate in the study, with 19 and 16 accepting respectively. A written survey of 15 questions, 11 of which employed a Likert 5-point scale, and four of which were open-ended requiring a short written answer. Of the 11 rateable questions, nine were directed at both graduates and employers and the remaining three were directed at either group. Results were subjected to non-parametric between group comparisons. Open-ended questions were scanned for themes.
Outcomes and Results: Employers and graduates did not differ on their perception of new graduate competence across all skill areas except writing skills. The employers rated the new graduates significantly lower on writing skills than did graduates. Both employers and graduates believed they were well-prepared for professional practice. Emerging themes in the open-ended questions were the continuity of location of clinical placements and employment, professional development, professional support, integration of academic and clinical education, and specific topic areas of strengths and weaknesses in the undergraduate curriculum.
Conclusions: The study provides insight as to the preparedness of new SLP graduates upon entering the workforce. Considering the views of both the new graduate and employer are vital if university programmes are to address the expanding scope of practice in the field of communication sciences and disorders.