Allied health placements supporting the Creswick community
Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy and Social Work students have been supported to undertake supervised placements within the schools, while simultaneously offering valuable services in line with the schools’ identified needs including early intervention.
Ellie and Elizabeth, two third-year occupational therapy (OT) students from Australian Catholic University, recently completed a five-week clinical placement at Creswick Primary School. The students worked closely with the leading teacher and their OT clinical supervisor to identify specific required projects and services which were then implemented by the students throughout their placement.
Occupational therapy students, Elizabeth (left) and Ellie (right), out the front of Creswick Primary School.
The OT program included supporting children with social skills such as communication and friendship skills, and emotional regulation. “Identifying different emotions, how their body feels when they feel those emotions and strategies they can put in place” explained Ellie.
The students led other projects including:
- Social stories for transitioning from different year levels (assisting children to adjust smoothly to new environments and relationships)
- ADHD presentation (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder)
- Trauma informed care in schools' presentation
- A mindfulness resource
The students developed professional development resources for school staff on the topics of trauma-informed care in schools, and ADHD, which will be used for professional development and for new staff induction.
Central to the success of the student programs was the constant support of the leading teacher, Ingrid Humm, and clinical OT supervisor, Dominique Hewat.
“Creswick Primary School has been hosting rural placements for allied health students for a few years now and have found this to be an amazing experience,” said Ingrid.
Ingrid and Dominique worked closely with Going Rural Health and the students at all stages of planning and implementation.
“Having the support of the leading teacher at the school meant that we had someone to ask questions as well as someone who knew and understood the teachers, so could help us when we needed it,” said OT student Ellie.
Ellie found the supportive learning environment at Creswick Primary School helpful in developing her confidence.
“We received daily clinical supervision sessions using a mix of online and onsite supervision”.
“This allowed us the opportunity to debrief and ask questions regularly as well as refresh our learning and had more confidence in the interventions that we had devised”.
Physiotherapy students worked onsite at Creswick Primary School for 16 weeks throughout the year, supported by their clinical supervisor Liz Charles, a local paediatric physiotherapist. Liz says having the university students at the primary school has provided many benefits.
“The students have provided a platform to identify kids with unmet needs and provide staff & students with support,” she said.
“It’s upskilled staff to brainstorm opportunities for health promotion within the school & broader community.”
The physiotherapy students provided assessment and therapy intervention for individual children as well as group sessions. They were involved in health promotion initiatives including running the ’brain break’ activities and provided resources and presentations for staff on the role of physiotherapy within the school.
Placement cross-over between physiotherapy and occupational therapy students enabled the students to work together.
“Having a physiotherapy student on placement at the same time was helpful to experience working in an interdisciplinary team, learning and understanding more about their role and providing joint intervention sessions,” said Ellie.
Social work students worked onsite at both Creswick North and Creswick Primary Schools, providing needs analysis and support programs for children and staff.
Planning is underway for continuation of student-led paediatric allied health services within the Creswick community in 2023, with a focus on supporting physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.
Going Rural Health is an initiative run by the University of Melbourne Department of Rural Health
Through funding from the Australian Government Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training program, our programs have been developed to support students enrolled in a nationally recognised nursing, allied health or other health science undergraduate or postgraduate degree at any Australian University (Financial support is subject to eligibility).