International Student Experience

S-LP Alum Reflects on her Final Clinical Practicum in Chennai, India…

When Ashwini Namasivayam learned she would be completing the final placement of her master’s program in Sri Ramachandra Medical College in India, she initially felt mixed emotions. She was excited at the prospect of broadening her views and being immersed in a new cultural experience, but was also nervous about how she would absorb all that the placement site had to offer. Looking back, Ashwini realizes she had nothing to be nervous about.

 “My clinical educators, as well as many other clinicians working at the site, willingly taught me all that they know and took the time to also act as translators. They started with the basics, ensuring my understanding every step of the way. They also ensured that my clinical experiences were varied, in order to guarantee a deeper understanding of how the Indian medical system operates, specifically in terms of the services available to those in need of speech and language therapy”.

Ashwini, now a Ph.D. candidate in Speech-Language Pathology at U of T, was able to take this unique opportunity through the support of the Chris Gandy International Outreach Award. While in India she worked within free out-patient clinics at the Medical College, contributed to various community outreach projects in rural areas, and visited the National Institute of Empowerment for Persons with Multiple Disabilities.

Ashwini was perhaps most struck by the speed of processing in the Indian system. While there are month-long waitlists in Canada, in India patients are easily able to self-refer, make and obtain an appointment within one week and start receiving treatment that same day. Ashwini was also surprised to learn that there were so many free services in place, allowing a multitude of people, all equally deserving, to receive any type of therapy they require, at the same urgency and frequency as paying patients. At the National Institute of Empowerment for Persons with Multiple Disabilities, Ashwini was impressed by the comprehensive services provided, within which healthcare specialists guide their patients and families from birth through adulthood.

 “Overall, my time at the Sri Ramachandra Medical College Department of Speech, Hearing and Language Sciences left me enlightened, and broadened my views as a budding speech-language pathologist. The way I will practice for years to come has been greatly impacted by the clinicians I have had the honour to learn from. The variety of experiences that they have provided me with allowed me to appreciate the Indian medical system for all that it has to offer, and better understand why the Canadian system is set up the way it is. I hope one day I may be able to pay this gift forward so that future clinicians can also see the global impact of speech-language pathology”.