Fast forward nine years and the Mobile Clinic has developed into an integral part of the school psychology program, providing graduate assistantships and essential hands-on experience for fourth-year doctoral students while also serving local and regional school districts.
“It is by far the most rewarding part of graduate school,” doctoral candidate Linda Lim said of Mobile Clinic. “We develop a lot of skills and acquire a lot of our knowledge through our coursework and practicum in years one through three, but I think we also sometimes underestimate how much we really know until we get out there and have to handle a situation.”
Lim, who jokes that she is a “true mobile clinician,” has worked for three different schools through Mobile Clinic during the past year. She first assisted at Sugar Valley Rural Charter School in Loganton before being assigned to a three-month contract with Milton Area School District in Milton to fill a vacancy left by a school psychologist on maternity leave. She is finishing the school year with Juniata County School District in Mifflintown.
“Mobile Clinic is really helpful because you are actually in the schools and you have to juggle a number of cases, whereas, in the clinic, you usually only work on one case at a time,” she said, referring to cases that come to the college’s CEDAR Clinic. “It’s easy to handle one or two different cases. But when you’re out there and you have seven kids on your caseload, you have to be able to manage everything and keep things organized.”
Before students can join Mobile Clinic, they must first successfully complete a “solo case” during their third year. They must work with a client who comes to CEDAR Clinic and complete the case independently, from start to finish, Woika said.
“They must demonstrate all the skills in case planning, test administration, interviewing, scoring, report writing and sharing results,” she said. “Once they’ve reached that benchmark then they’re eligible for Mobile Clinic cases.”
Once a student becomes part of Mobile Clinic, he or she works with school district staff to fill the role of a school psychologist on either a long-term or as-needed basis.
“In some cases, we have somebody contracted for a year or half-year as a grad assistant,” Woika said. “But in other circumstances we’ll have a district call and say, ‘We’re swamped. We just got 42 referrals and we need some help.’ So we might agree to take a given number of those and divide them up among our mobile clinicians.”
Working on individual cases is an opportunity that students jump on, Woika said, explaining that the cases from school districts tend to be different than the cases that are seen in CEDAR Clinic.
It is that different type of experience that attracts Lim to Mobile Clinic.
“The students that we get in CEDAR Clinic, they’re a different population of students,’’ she said. “We tend to get a lot of referrals for specific learning disabilities and ADHD. Whereas in the field, I feel like I’ve received many more intellectual disability cases, a lot more emotional disturbance cases with kids who might have a conduct disorder or oppositional defiance disorder, and kids with a history of trauma or other risk factors.”
The clinicians working with Mobile Clinic also get the opportunity to work with children who are English Language Learners (ELL).