Date of Award

January 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning

First Advisor

Casey Ozaki


Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) serve as members of the interprofessional team for complex patients. As such, SLPs are required to uphold ethical practices and respond to the needs of patients, their families, healthcare organizations, and the interprofessional team. Speech-language pathology graduates are part of the ethical healthcare team during clinical experiences. Yet, limited research is available to define the development of student ethical decision-making. The purpose of this study was to explore what influences SLP graduate students and clinical supervisors ascribe to in the development of ethical decision-making. Participants included five SLP graduate students and six SLP clinical supervisors from accredited SLP programs in the Upper Midwest. Participants engaged in two, semi-structured interviews discussing their backgrounds and experiences in ethical decision-making. A phenomenological method was used to analyze the results through the theoretical framework of epistemological development and healthcare higher education. The participants described dysphagia services, mandated reporting, and issues with the SLP scope of practice as their leading ethical dilemmas. They also detailed patients, family members, and other professionals as the main influences on their ethical reasoning. Recommendations include a focus on student development through best-practice healthcare education, interprofessional education, communities of practice, and scaffolded epistemological development.