- Charles Sturt School of Community Health and Three Rivers UDRH create innovative program for students to complete clinical placements in Lake Cargelligo
- Two occupational therapy students from Albury-Wodonga and two physiotherapy students from Orange are the first to take part in the ‘non-traditional placement’ program
- Program saw students work with Lake Cargelligo Early Learning Centre’s staff, students and parents to develop and implement health programs for the pre-schoolers
Two occupational therapy and two physiotherapy students from Charles Sturt University have spent more than one month in Lake Cargelligo completing an innovative new placement program.
The program, created by Charles Sturt’s School of Community Health and Three Rivers University Department of Rural Health (Three Rivers UDRH), required the students to work in pairs and apply skills and knowledge they have learned from their course to create a project to benefit students of the Lake Cargelligo Early Learning Centre (ELC).
Lecturer in Rural Health at Charles Sturt and Three Rivers UDRH Mr Brent Smith said the program was a unique experience for students because they delivered their project and services to an entire organisation, rather than delivering therapy or intervention directly for a client, which is the traditional placement format.
“These placements offer our health students the opportunity to complete a placement in a non-clinical environment and within a rural community,” Mr Smith said.
“The development of this program has been made possible with funding from the Australian Government’s Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training Program and thanks to the support of the Lake Cargelligo Early Learning Centre (ELC).”
Third-year occupational therapy students Miss Chelsea Williams and Miss Emily Schembri from Albury-Wodonga were the first to complete the program, completing their seven-week placement at the Lake Cargelligo ELC during July and August this year.
The pair developed a program, under the supervision of occupational therapist Ms Brooke Maslin, that was designed to teach preschool educators, primary school teachers and parents several strategies to cater for the children’s different sensory needs and help them to develop the functional skills needed before transitioning to kindergarten.
Miss Schembri, who is originally from Bathurst, said she learned a lot during her placement and enjoyed the opportunity to gain hands-on experience.
“At the start of the placement, I walked into the centre not knowing a lot about sensory processing or a preschool setting and had never worked in a rural setting,” she said.
“But since completing the placement, my knowledge regarding sensory processing and paediatrics has significantly increased.
“We were able to trial a number of different sensory interventions and the children we worked closely with responded really well to the occupational therapy interventions that were used.”
Miss Williams, who originally hails from Tullamore, said she feels incredibly lucky to have completed a placement program so close to her hometown that tapped into her passion for rural health.
“My experience at Lake Cargelligo is one I will always treasure because what we developed will continue to improve the future development of the children that attend the preschool,” she said.
“I was overwhelmed by the support we received from the entire Lake Cargelligo community, and their eagerness to learn from us and implement some of our strategies into their children’s daily routine, which made the placement so rewarding.”
Earlier this month, two final-year physiotherapy students from Orange completed their five-week placement at the ELC.
During their placement, the Charles Sturt students developed and implemented a core stability program for the students of the ELC, which was then developed into a resource for the educators and parents of the centre to implement.
Due to the success of the first two student placements, Three Rivers UDRH is continuing to support student clinical placements in Lake Cargelligo and exploring opportunities for future placements with other organisations that have expressed interest in hosting health students within their service.