SHU Prof Receives CHEFA Grant for Speech-Language Pathology

FAIRFIELD, Conn.—Ciara Leydon, associate professor in Sacred Heart University’s College of Health Professions, has received a $70,000 grant from the Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority (CHEFA) to benefit students in the speech-language pathology (SLP) program.

The grant will go toward a high-fidelity, full-body manikin that will help train students in a range of professional competencies, according to Leydon. This is the second consecutive year Leydon has received a grant from CHEFA. CHEFA is a quasi-public agency that provides access to tax-exempt financing and other financial assistance, including grant programs, to educational institutions, healthcare providers, childcare providers, cultural institutions, and other eligible non-profit entities. CHEFA derives its revenues from the annual loan servicing fee it charges its clients and operates without any state or taxpayer funds. 

“Students in speech-language pathology will benefit from high-fidelity simulation activities to practice clinical skills and gain confidence, while completing a variety of simulation scenarios pertaining to speech, language and swallowing impairments,” Leydon said. “What is particularly exciting about this collaborative work is that we will focus on more than the teaching of technical skills.” 

“CHEFA is pleased to provide this impactful grant to Sacred Heart University. The grant award will support student education in the field of speech and language therapy. By working on a realistic manikin, students will be prepared for working with patients in the community and entering the workforce with real world skills and training,” said Jeanette Weldon, CHEFA’s executive director.

Jill Douglass, assistant professor in SLP, will oversee the use of simulation to support students’ skills acquisition and their effective implementation of counseling techniques. Professor Taryn Rogers, director of clinical education in SLP, will work with community partners, such as employers and clinical supervisors, to monitor student preparedness for clinical practice. Jason Blando, lead simulation technologist in SLP, will assist with the logistics of implementing simulation into various parts of the program’s curricula.

“We were delighted to receive funding from CHEFA to expand simulation-driven coursework in our undergraduate and graduate programs in speech-language pathology,” Leydon said. “This grant will allow us to implement high-fidelity simulation and systematically assess the benefits of simulated clinical experiences in supporting our students’ effective transition from the classroom to clinical practice in speech-language pathology.” 

PHOTO CAPTION: Sacred Heart University speech-language pathology (SLP) Professor Ciara Leydon, left, uses a manikin to show students how to perform a flexible endoscopic swallow study in SLP classes at the Center for Healthcare Education. The CHEFA grant will be used to purchase high-fidelity, high-tech simulation equipment that will provide a more realistic and comprehensive learning experience for students. At right is Professor Jill Douglass. Photo by Tracy Deer-Mirek (March 2019)


About Sacred Heart University

As the second-largest independent Catholic university in New England, and one of the fastest-growing in the U.S., Sacred Heart University is a national leader in shaping higher education for the 21st century. SHU offers more than 80 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs on its Fairfield, Conn., campus, which is located about an hour from Manhattan and 2.5 hours from Boston. Sacred Heart also has satellites in Connecticut, Luxembourg and Ireland. More than 8,500 students attend the University’s eight colleges and schools: Arts & Sciences; Communication, Media & the Arts; Computer Science & Engineering; Health Professions; the Isabelle Farrington College of Education; the Jack Welch College of Business; Nursing; and St. Vincent’s College. Sacred Heart is rooted in the rich Catholic intellectual tradition and the liberal arts, yet at the same time develops students to be forward thinkers who enact change—in their own lives and professions and in their communities. A spirit of service, entrepreneurship and social justice is the essence of who we are and can be seen inside and outside the classroom as students learn how to make a difference far beyond Fairfield. The Princeton Review includes SHU in its Best 384 Colleges–2019 Edition, “Best in the Northeast” and Best 267 Business Schools–2018 Edition. It also placed SHU on its lists for “Happiest Students” and “Most Engaged in Community Service,” each of which comprises only 20 U.S. schools. Sacred Heart has a Division I athletics program.

Submitted by Fairfield, CT

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