Innovative rural placements in times of COVID-19
Tayla Albioli (top right), Mitchell Matheson (right middle), Edwina Vejayaratnam (bottom right), Annie Lu (top left), Kirsten Ven Der Buhs (left middle), Erin Anthea Holder (bottom left).
Rebecca Oates, Charmaine Swanson and Claire Salter-Parry – based at the University of Melbourne Department of Rural Health – coordinate service learning placements in which students are placed in non-health settings like primary schools, early learning centres, aged care and human service organisations across rural Victoria.
With COVID-19 making in-person placements difficult, the team transitioned to an online format so that students could continue to benefit from the learning opportunities presented and communities still had access to the support provided. Rebecca, Charmaine and Claire ensured that students completed these placements from their homes via Zoom sessions with clients, services, supervisors and other stakeholders. The students adapted screening tools and clinical interventions to an online format and provided a service to clients as well as an overview of their placement to the service.
Students reported substantial growth of their learning in telehealth, interprofessional skills and working autonomously in non-health settings as well as feeling safe because they worked from home. Students and services were grateful for the opportunity and voiced surprise at how much they gained despite the online format. Based on these innovative online placements, the team was invited to contribute to the Special COVID-19 Issue of the International Journal of Work Integrated Learning which was published in (Vol 21, Iss. 5 (2020): 587-600). https://search.proquest.com/openview/9733f4543313b74f5fd5026228be36d3/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=4379534
These rural placements are supported by the University Department of Rural Health (UDRH) and is funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health’s Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training (RHMT) Programme.
Student ‘Real Talk’ episode link (GRH Promotional Video):
Occupational therapy informative video created by GRH students: