Essential Functions and Skills: Standards for Graduate Students

In addition to satisfactory academic and clinical achievement throughout the graduate program, the student will be expected to demonstrate the ability to perform the essential functions listed below. These include both academic and non-academic components necessary for graduate studies and professional responsibilities as a speech-language pathologist. Should a problem arise, the student will address the issue by going to the proper hierarchy of faculty or administration.

Every student is expected to possess those intellectual, ethical, physical, and emotional capabilities required to undertake the full curriculum and achieve the levels of competence required by the faculty. Once enrolled in the Program, each student for the degree must quickly and accurately be able to integrate all information received, perform in a reasonably independent manner, and demonstrate the ability to learn, integrate, analyze and synthesize information and data.

The program will attempt reasonable accommodations for students, however, in doing so, the Program must maintain the integrity of its curriculum and preserve those elements deemed essential to the acquisition of knowledge in all areas of speech-language pathology, as well as the demonstration of skills requisite for the practice of speech-language pathology.

Accordingly, Touro College requires students to meet certain technical requirements.

Each student should read the standards carefully. The student must demonstrate the following skills and functions:

Communication Skills

Students must be able to:

  • Speak, hear, and observe in order to elicit information, examine patients, describe changes in mood, activity, and posture, and to perceive non-verbal communication and social cues.
  • Communicate effectively in oral/written English, both receptively and expressively, and interpret and use nonverbal communication appropriately. Communication includes not only speech, but also reading and writing.
  • Communicate professionally and intelligibly.
  • Develop appropriate relationships through effective communication with faculty members, advisors, fellow students, clinical educators/supervisors and clients.
  • Communicate professionally and effectively with regard to client documentation, reports, progress notes, and therapy sessions.
  • Appropriately convey information through assignments, presentations, examinations, and term papers, with realistic time constraints.
  • Communicate and exhibit appropriate interpersonal skills when working in a group for completion of assignments/presentations or when part of a professional clinic team for in-house clients or clients in the field (e.g. externships).
  • Adjust communication style to effectively respond to the needs of clients and their families or caregivers with sensitivity. 

Intellectual / Cognitive Skills

Students must be able to:

  • Demonstrate ability in measurement, calculation, comparisons, analysis and synthesis.
  • Demonstrate higher-order critical thinking skills including, but not limited to, comprehending, problem-solving, synthesizing, reasoning, evaluating, retaining, analyzing information and making inferences.
  • Exhibit the ability to formulate clinically-sound decisions, to develop diagnostic and therapeutic intervention plans, to implement goals, and to carry out appropriate therapy sessions.
  • Process, accept, and implement constructive criticism; self-evaluate performance with a client, a supervisor, and a professor or administrative staff.
  • Effectively multi-task program requirements (academic and clinical), including coursework, assignments, presentations, projects, clinical sessions and appointments, in a timely manner, which meet all required deadlines.
  • Follow verbal and written instructions to correctly complete all required assignments, clinical work, and paperwork in a timely manner and formulate professional judgments with guided instruction.
  • Demonstrate ability to identify one’s own deficiencies and limitations and the resources to remediate them.

Pragmatic / Behavioral Skills

Students must be able to:

  • Exhibit emotional stability and mature interpersonal skills with peers, staff, clients, and supervisors.
  • Possess the emotional health required for full utilization of their intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, and the prompt completion of all responsibilities relating to the diagnosis and care of clients, and to the completion of all requirements of the Graduate Program.
  • Tolerate and function effectively with physically and mentally taxing course loads, caseloads and workloads.
  • Function appropriately in the face of uncertainties inherent in treating clients.
  • Demonstrate appropriate interpersonal skills, interest, motivation and integrity.
  • Display flexibility and adapt to various cases and changing environments within the college, clinic and externship settings, while making quick and professional decisions.
  • Display appropriate time management skills to complete professional and technical tasks.
  • Acts and dresses professionally in all settings.
  • Demonstrate compassion, sensitivity, and respect to individuals of all ages, races, religions, genders, diverse cultural backgrounds and individuals with disabilities.

Professional Responsibility

Students must be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of and consistently act and perform within the Code of Ethics of the profession
  • Adhere to Department and College policies and those of the clinical sites.
  • Understand and uphold all College, State and Federal privacy issues and laws.
  • Work collaboratively with supervisors, professors, staff members, and other students in completing projects, assignments, clinical sessions, documentation and progress notes.
  • Develop organizational and time management skills in order to arrive on time, complete all assignments in the time/date allotted, and be able to exhibit the stamina to multi-task challenging assignments in the allotted time frames.


Students must be able to:

  • Access timely transportation with timely arrival to academic and clinical placements.
  • Sustain necessary physical activity level in required classroom and clinical activities for the defined workday.
  • Efficiently manipulate testing and treatment environment and materials without violation of testing protocol and with best therapeutic practice.
  • Manipulate patient/client-utilized equipment (e.g., including wheelchairs, AAC devices, hearing aids, etc.) in a safe, efficient and effective manner.
    • Provide a safe environment for others in responding quickly to unpredictable situations including fire, medical, and environmental (e.g., weather-related) emergencies and in applying universal precautions (standardized approach to infection control).
    • Display the motor skills to prepare and clean up setting, work with clients and operate technology related to clinical management.
    • Demonstrate requisite and appropriate patterns of speech and voice to be able to correctly and accurately recognize and model correct productions for clients presenting with articulation, phonological, motor programming, dysarthric, resonance and/or voice disorders.
    • Demonstrate sufficient motor function to execute movements reasonably required to provide care and treatment to patients. Such actions require coordination of both gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium, and functional use of all the senses.

Sensory / Observational

Students must be able to:

  • Demonstrate sufficient vision to be able to observe demonstrations, and properly perform clinic exercises. They must be able to observe a patient accurately, both at a distance and close-at-hand, and be able to discern nuances of facial expressions and body language.
  • Demonstrate sufficient hearing to be able to identify target vs. error sound with articulation skills.
  • Identify fluent vs. dysfluencies in speech.
  • Discriminate between normal and disordered voice, respiration, and resonance.
  • Demonstrate visual, auditory and tactile modalities sufficient and appropriate for academic and clinical functions.
  • Evaluate anatomic structures, findings on imaging studies, tables, graphs, audiograms, audiological examinations, diagnostic instruments, and administrations of standardized testing.
  • Identify oral and written language characteristics in the areas of syntax, morphology, phonology, semantics, and pragmatics.
  • Identify normal and disordered swallowing abilities, cognition, and social behavior.
  • Recognize when a client, client’s caregiver, or family requires clarification of instruction through written or verbal means.