Jessica Wagner’s connection with NIU didn’t end when she graduated. In fact, the 2016 graduate of the Doctor of Audiology program said it continues to grow thanks to mentorships that were established while a student.
“NIU gave me something beyond a classroom or clinic experience,” said Wagner. “I developed a lifelong mentorship with both Dr. Blythe Kitner and Dr. Matt Wilson; both continue to better me as a person as well as a clinician.”
Wagner earned her bachelor’s degree in Communicative Disorders from NIU before enrolling in the doctor of audiology program. She is currently a clinical audiologist at St. Luke’s University Hospital in Pennsylvania, where she specializes in both vestibular and pediatrics.
“My time at NIU allowed for me to really find what area I love about audiology,” Wagner said. “It allowed for me to gain the confidence I needed to complete complex testing and interpretations, and it allowed me to build on that specific interest and complete a research topic in it.”
Wagner completed an independent study at NIU as well as a Capstone project which exposed her to the research side of audiology. The location of NIU’s state-of-the art Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic, in the heart of campus, was a definite plus.
“NIU’s clinic setup and equipment they had to offer was a huge standout amongst other facilities that I visited,” Wagner said. “The opportunities to learn and grow as a clinician were achievable in NIU’s program.”
The program provided Wagner with a strong foundation that was a mix of classroom and clinical experience.
“On the classroom side, the information you are taught comes from individuals who specialize in that topic and it’s delivered in a way that I could apply it to the real world of audiology,” Wagner said.
Small class size made learning personable, and the labs allowed students to get gain practical skills and knowledge of the equipment.
“When it came to working with real patients, I was able to confidently complete the appointment while also understanding why and what I was doing,” Wagner said.
On the clinic side, the one-on-one teaching allows students to hone in on their clinical skills.
“Each clinical supervisor acted as a great role model,” Wagner said. “I learned how to deal with challenging patients, how to respond to scheduling errors and mistakes, how to think outside the box, and how to work with students. These skills are something I did not have prior to NIU’s program.”