IPE Champion

Student Spotlight


Kathleen Cotter

2020 Graduate - School of Speech, Language, Hearing and Occupational Sciences (SLHOS)

Academic Background: 

Clinical Fellow, Oregon Health & Science University LEND/IDD, 2020-2021

Master of Science, Speech-Language Pathology, 2020

Bachelor of Arts, Communicative Sciences and Disorders, 2018

What got you interested in interprofessional education and collaborative practice at UM? What are some highlights from IPE activities and programs you participated in?

The SLHOS department actively promotes interprofessional education and collaboration as a key component of our field. The professors and clinical educators in the department reiterate often that our scope of practice is so wide that in nearly every setting we are working with other professionals to provide the best care possible for our clients.

For me, this meant I wanted to get as many experiences in interprofessional education as I could during my clinical and academic education. I learned so much and had so much fun working with clinical psychology students as part of the Youth Engagement Through Intervention (YETI) intensive summer camp in 2018 and 2019, collaborating with a masters of social work student clinician for YETI-Support Through Education and Planning (STEP), and with the IPE Student Interest Group. Each of those experiences taught me more about the different fields as well as how all of our passions can bring us together. One of my favorite experiences was this past fall with the IPE Student Group when we hosted an IPE Trivia Night. All the professions provided questions, helped organize the event, and recruited participants. It was such a fun night and I’ll always remember that the team that won had a great diversity of professions on the team!

The Fellowship you were awarded will engage in interdisciplinary training while treating children with various disorders (craniofacial disorders, feeding challenges, autism, Down syndrome, and other developmental delays). Why is the interdisciplinary model necessary for this work?

What drew me to the LEND Fellowship was the interdisciplinary model. From conversations with past fellows and with the faculty, the interdisciplinary model is necessary because it provides a holistic approach to the clients and their families. By collaborating on assessments and creating a treatment plan in conjunction with other professions, we can better address the needs of the client. If we were all working in our own professional “silos” we may overlap certain areas of treatment without knowing it or miss areas of treatment all together. Additionally, we will be working with parents and family members as equal partners in the assessment and treatment process and creating an environment of teamwork and collaboration will help create that reality.

What moment or circumstance reinforced the importance of interprofessional training and/or collaborative practice for you? 

My first day of the YETI summer camp in 2018 I was a brand new student clinician praying that I could somehow take all of the theory and evidence-based practices I had learned over the last few years and apply them to the real-life child in front of me. However, the child I was working with needed a different YETI experience and more one-on-one time than the other campers. I was in way over my head at first. But with the guidance of the YETI Co-Developers Jennifer Schoffer Closson and Dr. Anisa Go forth, and the student co-directors from the SLP and Clinical Psychology departments, I made it through and that week changed my life. I learned so much about working with behavior and language together and connecting with a child in their world to help them find a way into mine. I’ll never forget that week and how vital the different perspectives from different professions were in the success of the child I was working with.

If you could give the health professions students at UM any piece of advice before they enter into their field and practice collaboratively with other professionals, what would it be?

I would want to tell them to speak and listen with intention. We are all going into these various fields with the goal of helping others and we all bring our own experiences and education to the table. We all work better together when we remember to value our team’s voices and input. Also, don’t feel afraid to ask questions or ask your team member if they understood something you said. The clearer the communication, the more effective the team will be!

You can read more about the prestigious fellowship Kathleen has been awarded here:

 It’s a First: UM Graduate Student Earns Top Speech-Language Fellowship