Blog 4: Improving Microaggressive Attitudes in CSD Programs

My experience as a member of the UGR program at Pace University has been extremely fulfilling. Through conducting research on cultural humility and microaggressions, Dr. Gregory and I were able to connect with a range of like-minded professionals who shared salient perspectives on the topic. This program also provided me the opportunity to connect with other students and obtain a better understanding of the research being conducted throughout the university. The UGR program provides the ideal community that enforces bridging the gap between researchers in different fields.

Our initial project, Examining Microaggressions to Improve Clinical Encounters was our biggest accomplishment yet. The aim of this research addresses the need to decrease microaggressions within clinical encounters to help guide practicing clinicians toward sustaining meaningful relationships with their clients. Having our research be selected to be presented at the American Speech-Language- Hearing Association (ASHA) conference, was an unforgettable moment in my academic career. While ensuring that this project touched upon the negative affects that microaggressions place on people from culturally and linguistically diverse groups, we were able to grasp the attention of speech-language pathologists, audiologists, teachers, professors, and professionals around the nation. The constructive feedback we received from ASHA meant that our work exploring microaggressions had just begun. Though this particular project is not yet published, we are still working toward completing the necessary steps for our checklist to be referred to in clinical settings nationwide.

As we move forward in our journey toward cultural humility, both Dr. Gregory and I recognize the importance of dismantling microaggressive behaviors in Communication Science and Disorders (CSD) communities as a whole. Our proposed follow-up research project includes an interview portion that would highlight the experiences of students enrolled in CSD programs at accredited institutions both in undergraduate and graduate programs. However, we decided to focus on creating a survey that will yield similar responses in hopes that we are able to gain a greater amount of participants. The aim of our follow-up research is to examine knowledge on microaggressions, what these experiences look like, and how they are handled within the program. Due to Dr. Gregory’s extensive career in research, working together on this project was enjoyable, enlightening, and challenging in the best way. With her guidance I feel that my skills in analyzing and writing research material have improved immensely. We plan on continuing to work together even after I graduate from the undergraduate program at Pace University in May.

Currently, Dr. Gregory and I are working on submitting an IRB while we work toward sending the survey out to students nationwide via social media. Our research study will focus on not only a survey to understand microaggressive behaviors but provide recommendations for students and programs dealing with microaggressions within the environment.  By formulating the basis of our research and reviewing multiple research articles, we are confident that our results will bring solutions to individuals in higher education and students that enforces appreciating students from culturally and linguistically diverse populations.


Blog 3: Improving Microaggressive Attitudes in CSD Programs

Upon reflection of our presentation at ASHA, Professor Gregory and I decided to change the focus of our research project. Our initial research examines microaggressions during clinical encounters. However, we have switched gears and began to analyze microaggressions in Communication Science and Disorders (CSD) programs at accredited institutions. While continuing our general research on microaggressions, we came across a number of articles that highlight the experiences of students apart of underrepresented communities. Of these experiences, we found that these groups are less likely to progress through their CSD programs due to the negative implications that accompany microaggressive behaviors.

We reviewed the content of five research articles and created a 15 question survey that assesses knowledge and personal experience. We will send the survey to college level students who are apart of CSD programs at their institutions.  The aim of our research is to analyze the understanding of microaggressions, what these experiences look like, and how they are handled within the program. We are also looking to gain insight on how these programs can better appreciate and handle student’s victim to these unfortunate experiences while enrolled. We are hoping for results that yield honest responses so that we can further comprehend the affect of microaggressions on an individual’s quality of life. Dr. Gregory and I are currently working on formulating an IRB to ensure that the components of the study are fair while protecting the rights of everyone participating. We are looking forward to reviewing the results of the survey as we work toward reaching cultural humility in all environments related to CSD.

Blog 2: Presenting my research at the American Speech- Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)

Attending the American Speech- Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Convention was a meaningful and extremely worthwhile experience as an aspiring Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP). An estimated 20,000 people of all different professions united with two interests alike, speech and hearing. Dr. Gregory and I presented our poster “Cultural Humility: Examining Microaggressions to Improve Clinical Encounters” on the first day of the three-day convention. Our poster was displayed amongst hundreds of researchers work on various topics including telepractice, cognitive disorders, health literacy, language in infants, and others focusing on different aspects within our career path. During our presentation time, professions from different regions of the world shared their perspective on microaggressions in the workplace and everyday life.

We were apart of relevant and sincere conversations that taught us new things regarding personal bias’ while being able to provide research that benefits all individuals within a community. A key take away from our presentation was the amount of people who identified with “self- evaluation” posing a huge barrier to achieving cultural humility. Self- evaluation is the ability to reevaluate and alter personal biases with the willingness to explore and appreciate a culture for what it is. Many people we spoke with addressed microaggressions as a “sensitive topic,” which placed even more emphasis on the importance of talking about how they impact our clients.

As we take all considerations and critiques away from our experience at ASHA, the next step is to implement our poster and checklist into local university clinics.  Additionally, we would like this checklist to be feasible for practicing clinicians and professors to introduce in their coursework.  As we try to spread awareness on the impact of microaggressive attitudes on a national level, it is equally important to ensure that we enforce the same beliefs here in our community. While continuing to focus on cultural humility, the survey and qualitative interviews on cultural competence and humility are underway as we work toward building questions that will give us reliable and significant results. The aim of this study is to identify undergraduate and graduate student experiences with microaggressions during clinical experiences.



Blog 1: Cultural Humility: Examining Microaggressions to Improve Clinical Encounters

As we enter the year 2020, health professionals all over the world are seeking to find the best possible methods, treatments, and evidenced based research to provide a positive and comprehensive experience for our clients.  Specifically, in the field of Communication and Science Disorders (CSD) the emerging conceptual shift from cultural competence to cultural humility is one of the many ways we can contribute to a worthwhile experience. Cultural humility is the ongoing process of reevaluating personal perspectives as they relate to culture outside of your own. It is the ability to constantly explore, learn, and appreciate a culture for all that it encompasses, aside from the conscious or unconscious biases held toward it. Cultural humility provides an enabling environment, while competence implies that there are boundaries to how far learning about a culture can go. As efforts to move away from competence increase, addressing microaggressions is a step toward achieving humility within the clinical setting.

A key component to this essential shift is dismantling the conscious and unconscious beliefs that shape our perspective of a particular culture, known as microaggressions. A deeper understanding of cultural humility and our awareness of our microaggressions combined will lead future and practicing clinicians to an increased amount of meaningful and trustworthy clinical encounters.

Microaggressions are subtle forms of bias insults that give denigrating messages specifically to individuals of color, minority groups, and people apart of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transsexual Queer Intersex Asexual (LGBTQIA) community. They can focus on factors like socioeconomic status, gender, disability, and religion. Intentional or unintentional, they communicate hostile and degrading feelings toward clients that can often make them feel inferior, unintelligent, excluded, and invalidate their negative experiences within society.

To avoid such feelings, Dr. Gregory and I have generated a proposal and model that will assist future and practicing clinicians in leaving their microaggressions prior to any clinical encounter. The poster was accepted to the American Speech- Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Convention for next month in Orlando, Florida. In preparation for our poster presentation we have done an extensive amount of research on how cultural competence, humility, and microaggresion impact the lives of clients in therapy. The poster we present at the convention will advocate for the shift toward humility.

In addition to the professional education poster, Dr. Gregory, Dr. Ginsberg, and I will be working on developing a survey that addresses cultural competence and cultural humility among speech-language pathologists. The survey encourages clinicians to answer questions about what they believe cultural competence and humility means to them.

Witnessing and playing a role in such an essential transformation within CSD is both exciting and inspiring to watch. Making cultural humility a professional goal for clinicians has been a topic that both Dr. Gregory and I take pride in researching. We are hopeful for the results to come as we go through the process of supporting and pushing the shift toward cultural humility in the CSD profession.

Skyler O’Berry, Undergraduate student Communication Science and Disorders program