Student Testimonials

Student Practice Education reflections

First year

Rebecca Lea Boromeo

Why did you undertake your course?

When I was 15 I had work experience with an OT in a hospital. Ever since then I have wanted to study occupational therapy. The work experience instilled my interest in the profession as I got to see the career options for occupational therapists. I also observed occupational therapists really caring and considering client's wellbeing when they got home and their view for the person as a whole.

What did you enjoy about doing your course at Deakin?

I really enjoy the occupational therapy subjects as they are not so much exam based and very practical so I can see the relevance to the workplace. All the lecturers are very friendly and helpful and are genuinely interested in supporting you to archive your best. I also enjoy the location of the university; I feel it is a very good learning environment.

One aspect of the course which I enjoy is the placements. I think it is very important to go on placements straight away as it gives students an indication of what occupational therapy is all about and whether or not is the career path they want to choose. Currently I am at the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind school in Burwood. Here I am given the opportunity to observe and facilitate hand therapy sessions.

The supervisors at my workplace and also at university are extremely supportive, passionate and informative. As a result this makes me even more motivated to continue and do well in my studies.

Beck is extremely passionate about occupational therapy and is also working part time at a day centre and residential carer whilst completing her studies. The course has met all her expectations and more.

What would you recommend about Deakin?

Deakin has good facilities, including a women's room, computer labs and cafe; it is also a very supportive environment. Although I have not used them, I'm aware of the student services offered including counselling and academic skills learning. The university is smaller than most, making it friendly and welcoming


Natalie Endresz

Where did you undertake your placement?

At the Dorothy Thompson Day Program, in Norlane. My role was to assist with activities and be involved with the clients that attended the centre every Thursday. Clients generally had mental illnesses, dementia and were of low socio-economic status. There was no OT present, but I was able to observe and implement some first year OT theory by viewing my placement with occupational therapy lens.

What were the highlights of your placement?

I loved every minute of placement!! However, the main highlights were conducting several social profile interviews with new clients, providing the perfect opportunity to build repertoire and discover clients' interests and dislikes. I was able to run a Timed Up and Go activity and initiate a Brain Gym session, incorporating gentle physical exercises. The best moment was persuading one particular client to participate in all these activities, who never normally wants to try anything new and using this chance to find out about their past lives, experiences, family and stories!!!

What were the challenges of your placement?

One of the most difficult challenges was that once a client felt comfortable enough to talk freely with you, it was very hard not to get side-tracked and lose sight of the information you were trying to gain from them. It was invaluable experience to be able to practice guiding the conversation back without making the client feel like you don't have the time, don't care or are being to rude to listen to them!

What were the rewards of your placement?

Just the simple fact that every smile, every small gesture of kindness and every second of time spent talking to a client may have made their day, made them feel that someone cares and made them reminisce on a happy memory was definitely a huge reward of placement!! I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in such a great program!

Second year

Emily McClelland

Why did you undertake your course?

Emily chose occupational therapy because she had a desire to work with people and to work in healthcare. Occupational therapy allows Emily to work with a wide range of clients and in a variety of settings. Already Emily has undertaken fieldwork in a community health centre, inpatient rehabilitation centre and in factories. The aspect of fieldwork Emily enjoys most is interacting with clients. Through her fieldwork Emily has been able to see how occupational therapy can make a difference in the lives of people with an illness or disability. Emily says, "I can't wait until I'm out there", but realises that she still has a lot more to learn.

What did you enjoy about your course at Deakin?

The Bachelor of Occupational Therapy Course at Deakin was particularly attractive to Emily as it meant she could remain living with her family in Geelong. In addition, Emily liked Deakin's attitude toward fieldwork, allowing students to attend fieldwork one day per week from the beginning of first year. Emily also enjoys being able to undertake elective units in addition to core occupational therapy units. She has chosen electives in arts and psychology. Emily has fond memories of her first year anatomy lecturer who made his lectures stimulating by adding some of his own experiences as a sports trainer. The lecturers that Emily has had throughout her course have been enthusiastic about the topics they were teaching which have motivated Emily to learn.

When not studying, Emily is involved in clubs through the Deakin University Student Association (DUSA). She regularly attends the belly dancing club and Christian Union.

When Emily graduates she hopes to either work with children or to work in a rehabilitation centre. At the moment Emily is enjoying the 'hands-on' experiences she is gaining at university and through fieldwork.


Karen Nunn

Karen Nunn is a second year Occupational Therapy student.

Setting for practicum

The Warrnambool City Council has a strong commitment of community and empowerment towards the region that encompasses a population of 29,500. The services offered by the council are varied and diverse that range from health, tourism and town planning.

Role

Karen's practicum was a Rural Centre Placement (RCP) and took place in Warranambool during the first two weeks of the mid-semester break during semester one. Her role on the practicum was as a team member for the streetscape project that was overseen by an employee of the Warrnambool City Council who works in the area of Resident Services and Rural Access.

The project involved working as a team to gather and analyse data on the streetscapes of central Warrnambool and the smaller towns in neighbouring shires. The streetscape data was varied and diverse and included information on footpaths, pedestrian crossings and front shop access. This data was then assessed from a disability access point of view, whilst keeping in mind the value of accessible streetscapes to all members of the community.

Once the data was analysed, recommendations of change were formally presented to council members at the conclusion of the practicum. In addition to the project, all students undertaking their RCP participated in a one day cultural awareness program in Heywood.

Highlights

Karen experienced a variety of highlights during her practicum experience, especially the rural setting from a non-medical perspective. Karen also gained a greater awareness in how the features of both built and natural environments impact a person's ability to participate in everyday activities and be involved in their local community.

The practicum also gave Karen a sense of belonging that was achieved by working with other students and council members and also knowing that their research and work will be potentially used in an ongoing project to benefit all members of the community.

Communicating with local residents with disabilities also gave Karen a real-world insight into how the environment affects them personally and how they manage to overcome these obstacles in their day-to-day life.

The final highlight for Karen was the opportunity to attend the final presentation of a community and council project called WAVE (Warrnambool Action Vision for Everyone) that encourages residents to be empowered and supported by their council in order to address issues facing their local area.

Challenges

Karen experienced a variety of challenges during her practicum with the first obstacle of her placement learning her way around Warrnambool and the surrounding shires. The data collection also poised Karen another challenge as she had to figure out how to compile large amounts of data into a professional and interesting presentation.

As the presentation involved challenging existing ideas and identifying issues needing to be addressed, it was difficult to know how to present this information to professionals who worked in the field for many years.

Another challenge faced by Karen was her limited knowledge of the field of practice and access to related research which made it difficult in answering the questions of the professionals when they became defensive about previously implemented programs and completed work.

Rewards

Karen gained many personal and professional rewards during her practicum, particularly in communication and teamwork. She was also encouraged to take more initiative when approaching and dealing with both challenging and ordinary situations that assisted in developing a greater level of confidence in her abilities.

It also broadened her view of the value of occupational therapy and the potential areas an occupational therapist can work in and also supported Karen in a better understanding of the difficulties faced by many people in the community and how they may be supported.

The foundational knowledge relating to community access and inclusion for all people will assist Karen as a future occupational therapist.

Third year

Michelle Jackman

Why did you undertake your course?

I applied to occupational therapy because I wanted to be a health professional and learn more about the profession as I didn't know much about occupational therapy before starting the course. I also knew that occupational therapy is a growing field and I would be assured a job at the completion of the degree.

What did you enjoy about doing your course at Deakin?

The Deakin waterfront campus is in a great location being close to the sea and central business district. Waterfront is small, quiet and easy to find your way around. I have also enjoyed the social aspect of university life and have made a lot of great lifelong friends over the years I have been there.

What would you recommend about the occupational therapy course at Deakin?

The course is small which enables you to know lecturers on a first name basis. The lecturers are also very approachable and happy to take the time to answer any questions you may have and provide professional advice. Being a relatively new course Deakin has an innovative approach to learning with up to date teaching and learning strategies that are flexible to individual learning styles.

What would you recommend about the occupational therapy profession?

Occupational therapy is a rewarding and fulfilling profession that allows you to help clients maintain or increase their independence and ultimately increase their life satisfaction. Occupational therapy is also a very board profession that covers a diverse range of areas. Occupational therapists are also in very high demand which ensures employment at the completion of your studies. The profession is also internationally accredited allowing you to work anywhere in the world in both developing and industrialised countries.


Naomi Fink

Naomi Fink reflects on her time as an Occupational Therapy student, in unit HSO405.

Where did you undertake your placement and what was your role?

I completed my fourth year clinical placement at the Victorian Rehabilitation Centre, where I managed a caseload of complex patients within the Neuromedical and High Dependency Unit. Within this setting I worked closely with members of a multidisciplinary team, participating in regular team meetings, family meetings and case conferences to discuss each patient's current occupational performance and discharge plan. I provided individual patient care by completing; initial assessments, personal care assessments, upper limb assessments, cognitive assessments, community assessments, home visits, and equipment prescription and education. I also delivered care within a group setting, by administering breakfast groups, lunch groups and upper limb groups.

What were the highlights of your placement?

I especially enjoyed working within a multidisciplinary team and completing joint sessions with physiotherapists, speech therapists or even neuropsychologists. This collaborative environment enabled me to learn from numerous members of the allied health team, and I was able to better understand my role as the Occupational Therapist. My highlight was when I attended a team meeting, and the treating doctor asked my opinion as to whether the patient was safe to be discharged home. It was fantastic to learn that even as a fourth year student, you have the ability to make clinical decisions which are acknowledged by the allied health team.

What were the challenges of your placement?

I found that there was a large increase in expectations of fourth year students in regards to knowledge and skills. It was anticipated that as a fourth year student I would be a practicing Occupational Therapists by the end of the year, therefore I received less guidance and support than I expected. I had a thirty minute orientation session on my first day, and soon after began seeing complex patients with my supervisor. For at least the first four weeks of placement, it can be an extremely daunting and demanding experience.

What were the rewards of your placement?

Working within a rehabilitation setting offers the opportunity to work closely with patients and their families over an extended period of time. I worked with some patients in the immediate stages of recovery after their motor vehicle accident, and was able to work with them for the months ahead and observe their progress. It was an extremely fulfilling experience, and highlighted the impact Occupational Therapy can have on an individual's life.

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