Undergraduate Clinical Observations
Information & FAQS
Undergraduate majors and postbaccalaureate students planning to pursue clinical careers in speech-language pathology are strongly encouraged to complete and document a minimum of 25 observation hours in the delivery of speech-language pathology services, while working toward their bachelor’s degree (see below). These clinical observations will occur in the UW Speech and Hearing Clinic and some select community sites.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) 25 Hour Observation Requirement
ASHA is the professional, scientific, and credentialing association for speech-language pathologists, audiologists, and speech, language and hearing scientists. ASHA accredits graduate speech and hearing programs in the U.S. and sets the professional standards for speech-language pathologists and audiologists.
ASHA requires a minimum of 25 documented hours of clinical observation as a prerequisite to graduate level clinical work and receipt of the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP). These observations serve as preparatory experience to participating in Master’s level clinical work, and most speech-language pathology graduate programs in the U.S. require students to complete these observations prior to enrolling in a graduate program.
Is the 25 hours of clinical observation a requirement for the Bachelor of Science degree?
No. The 25 hours of observation is not a requirement of the University of Washington for obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences. All students completing the degree requirements for the SPHSC major receive a B.S. degree regardless of whether 25 observation hours are completed. That being said, most SPHSC students will complete some observation hours during their degree program.
Does this observation hour requirement apply to both speech-language pathology and audiology certification?
No. The 25 hours of clinical observation is a requirement for certification in speech-language pathology only. Any undergraduate student planning to apply to graduate school to pursue a clinical career in speech-language pathology is required to complete a minimum of 25 hours of observation in speech-language pathology in order to complete the graduate program and be eligible for clinical certification.
Students planning to apply to graduate school to pursue clinical careers in audiology are not required to complete 25 hours of observation. However, we strongly encourage all students preparing for careers as audiologists to complete observations during the undergraduate program in order to better understand clinical practice and enhance the competitiveness of their graduate applications.
Are there specific ASHA guidelines or requirements pertaining to observations?
Yes. Per ASHA, the 25 clinical observations required for speech-language pathology:
- Fall within the scope of practice of speech-language pathology
- Be under the direction of a qualified clinical supervisor who holds current ASHA certification in speech-language pathology. Such direction may occur simultaneously with the student's observation or may be through review and approval of written reports or summaries submitted by the student.
- Be approved in writing by a qualified clinical supervisor who holds current ASHA certification in speech-language pathology
- Be in a variety of service delivery settings (e.g., hospital, clinic, school, private practice, etc.)
- Be of several types of clinical service (e.g., evaluation or treatment, children or adults, speech, language, cognitive-communication or swallowing disorder). Students are encouraged to distribute their 25 hours over various types of clinical services and sessions.
What counts as observation hours?
Students can observe “live” clinical sessions or they can observe the delivery of client services through video recordings, as long as the recordings are done as part of a class or given to the student by a clinical supervisor. All of these hours are acceptable as long as the live or videotaped services are directed by a certified SLP and documentation of time spent in supervised observation is verified by that professional in writing.
How do I track and document my observation hours?
SPHSC students will record observations on an observation log sheet and obtain signatures for the ASHA certified SLP directing the clinical service. The log is located on SharePoint under “For Students” → “Degree Program Info” → “BS” folder.
Hours will not be tracked or maintained by the clinic or the department. It is each student’s responsibility to maintain a log sheet with signatures as graduate programs will ask for this as proof of observation completion.
Where should SPHSC students observe?
Students will complete all of their observations at the UW Speech and Hearing Clinic located at 4131 15th Ave. NE, Seattle, WA 98105-6299. In the clinic is an observation sign up board and detailed instructions regarding how to observe in the clinic are available to current majors and postbaccalaureate students on SharePoint.
Please note: Students cannot arrange off-campus observations independently. All off-campus observations require prior approval from Student Services. The only exceptions are observations arranged with instructors through specific SPHSC courses.
Due to the high demand for graduate student clinical placements, most community facilities are not in a position to accept student observers from our undergraduate programs. Additionally, for safety and privacy reasons, many hospitals and medical centers require observers to complete a number of pre-requisites before they can observe (e.g., background checks, privacy training). Thus, SPHSC students should plan to complete their observations in the UW Speech and Hearing Clinic, as it is easily accessible and offers a wide variety of observation opportunities.
What kind of clinical observations are available in the UW Speech & Hearing Clinic?
The Speech and Hearing Clinic offers evaluation and treatment services for children and adults with a wide variety of speech, language, hearing, and related communication needs. The clinic serves 200-300 clients each week, ranging in age from 3 years to the end of life. To learn more about clinic services please visit our website:
Speech-Language Pathology Services
Are there any observation restrictions for the UW Speech and Hearing Clinic?
Yes. Only official SPHSC undergraduate major or post-baccalaureate student can complete clinical observation hours in the UW Speech and Hearing Clinic while enrolled in SPHSC courses. Students planning to apply to the major or postbaccalaureate programs may not observe clinical sessions unless they have made special arrangements through the Clinic Office as a Visitor.
When should I get started with my observations?
It is recommended that students begin clinical observations early in their program of study. Results of a survey of SPHSC seniors indicated that students find observations to be useful in better understanding coursework, identifying specific interests within the field of speech and hearing sciences, and deciding whether or not to pursue a professional/clinical career in speech-language pathology or audiology.
Will SPHSC staff help me arrange observations?
No. The SPHSC staff will provide resources and information for students, but each student is responsible for arranging and tracking their own observations in the UW Speech and Hearing Clinic.
When do I need to have the observation hours completed?
You must complete the 25 observation hours before you begin direct patient/client contact at the graduate level. You may still be in the process of completing observation hours when you submit your applications to graduate school, but most graduate programs require these hours to be completed before starting the degree.
Is volunteering the same thing as observing?
No. The observation hour requirement is separate from volunteering, which students may complete in addition to observing if they so choose. With clinical observation, students shadow or observe a speech-language pathology or audiology professional providing clinical services. With volunteering, students provide hands-on support to professionals which can take on a variety of forms (e.g., clerical work, administrative support, computer support, etc.). There is no requirement to volunteer, although volunteering experience in Speech and Hearing Sciences or a related field can be included on graduate school applications.