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THKMC and SIT Established the Nation’s First Speech Therapy Student Clinic

 

 In a first-of-its-kind collaboration, Thye Hua Kwan Moral Charities (THKMC) and the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), the only autonomous university in Singapore to offer a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Speech and Language Therapy, have established the nation’s first student-led clinic for Speech and Language Therapy. Jointly started as a pilot project by THKMC and SIT in June 2023, the clinic aims to provide affordable therapy for children with mild to moderate language learning difficulties while nurturing the next generation of speech language therapists.

Empowering Future Therapists While Providing Affordable Care

The THKMC SLT Student Clinic, currently located at THK Children’s Therapy Space @ MacPherson, empowers SIT students to lead therapy sessions for children with mild to moderate communication challenges. Supervised by a team of THKMC's Clinical Educators, these students gain invaluable hands-on experience while providing affordable, quality care services to the community.

Between June 2023 and April 2024, the clinic saw six SIT students complete their clinical placements, with one joining THKMC full-time after graduation. By the end of 2024, the Student Clinic will expand its services to THK Children’s Therapy Space @ Queenstown, where THKMC can receive up to 12 students for training and enable the clinics to serve more clients.

For parents facing long wait times for public healthcare speech therapy appointments, the THKMC Student Clinic offers a beacon of hope. Here, children with mild to moderate language difficulties can receive therapy within two weeks, compared to the five-week waiting time in a public healthcare facility. This critical intervention during a child's most receptive learning window can significantly improve their communication skills and overall development.

The THKMC SLT Student Clinic also allows parents of children with mild to moderate developmental needs to enrol their children in therapy while waiting for a vacancy at the Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC) Centre. This ensures that their child benefits from the critical period of early intervention when neuroplasticity, or the ability of neural networks in the brain to change, is the highest. 

The shorter wait time and cost savings of the therapy sessions have led to high demand for the Student Clinic, which has 35 children enrolled since June 2023.

A Success Story: Abner Finds His Voice

One of THKMC Student Clinic’s clients is Abner Lee, a six-year-old boy who has been attending the Student Clinic weekly since January 2024. Abner could only communicate with single words and maximally 2-word phrases, and his articulation was very unintelligible for his age. After receiving therapy at the student clinic, Abner can interact with others using longer sentences of 4 - 5 words. His parents shared that they are very grateful for this programme as the intervention has improved Abner’s speech clarity and taught him the skills to communicate his ideas and feelings. At Abner’s recent paediatrician review at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Mr and Mrs Lee were elated to hear that Abner could enrol in a mainstream school.

Abner

Abner Lee is one of the 35 children enrolled in the THKMC Student Clinic since June 2023. (THKMC photo)

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Abner pictured with Carine Yap, a Year 4 SIT Speech Language Therapy student (centre) who had completed her final 7-week long placement at the THKMC Student Clinic and a THKMC Clinical Educator. (THKMC photo)

Ms Karen Lee, Assistant Divisional Director at THK Therapy Services and one of the Student Clinic’s SIT appointed Clinical Educators, shares, “Having this Student Clinic with SIT is highly advantageous for many stakeholders, with the children and our future generation of therapists being the critical beneficiaries of all these efforts.”

"This unique collaboration is an example of SIT's commitment to authentic applied learning. It not only ensures that children receive timely, quality care but also allows our students to gain confidence in their clinical skills. In addition, under the guidance of registered speech language therapists, our senior students have opportunities to mentor their juniors and further hone important skills such as professionalism and life-long learning. We see this initiative as one that addresses a critical need in the community and opens another avenue for training our future generations of speech therapists.” says Associate Professor Valerie Lim, Programme Leader of Speech and Language Therapy at SIT

Carine Yap was a Year 4 SIT Speech Language Therapy student who completed her final 7-week long placement under the THKMC Student Clinic from Jan to Feb 2024. She shared, “I am excited to join THKMC as a full-time Speech Language Therapist in August. The THKMC Student Clinic allows me to apply the skills and knowledge learnt from SIT in a supported and safe learning environment under the guidance of my Clinical Educators.”

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Carine Yap (right) and a THKMC Student Clinic Clinical Educator. (THKMC photo)

A Holistic Approach to Child Development

THKMC's vision for comprehensive care extends beyond speech therapy. The organisation plans to expand its Student Clinics to include physiotherapy and occupational therapy in 2025, offering a suite of services under one roof. This commitment to holistic care mirrors the focus of SIT as the only autonomous university in Singapore offering a suite of allied health programmes, including Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy, to prepare the next generation of healthcare professionals.Parents of children or medical/allied health professionals requiring more information on the Student Clinic may contact THKMC at ctc@thkmc.org.sg.

 
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