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.