Haddix Collaborates with OT to Offer Inter-professional Education Experience

by Erin Bowens

Speech-language pathologists collaborate with occupational therapists to treat sensory difficulties, feeding problems, and fine motor skill deficits. Six years ago, CSD Clinical Associate Professor, Vicki Haddix, began an interprofessional collaboration program with Stephanie Lancaster, an OT professor at University of Tennessee, Health Science Center (UTHSC). The two met through the Tennessee Association for Assistive Technology (TAAT). IPE has been a primary focus of their collaboration.

Haddix and Lancaster offer joint class meetings that include OT students from UTHSC and SLP students taking Haddix’s AAC course. Students in each program learn about the other profession’s scope of practice and how they can collaborate to offer services. Clients also give their feedback to students in the course about the value of receiving interprofessional treatment. Haddix explained that the classes have been especially helpful for students when AAC users, like her client, Kristy Lipe, can attend for an hour to discuss their experience and expertise. Lipe is an AAC user who accesses her device through a switch positioned at her head. 

After presentations like Lipe’s, the students from the two professions share their knowledge about how to work with similar patients. The OT students explain the function and use of the switches to SLP students. The SLP students teach the OT students about modeling on AAC communication boards and devices. Lancaster and Haddix recently presented on the value of interprofessional treatment plans at the TAAT conference in December 2023. 

Kamari Toney, a second-year SLP student, discussed the benefit of her IPE experience in Haddix’s course. The class gave her a clear understanding of how collaboration between both fields can help provide comprehensive care and support for clients. Toney also expressed how beneficial it was to have practical knowledge about switch devices and integrating them creatively into therapeutic activities to cater to diverse client needs. In future semesters, SLP/OT collaboration will be part of the clinic course so all students, even those not enrolled in the AAC elective course, can benefit.