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Rural placements ensuring diversity

Alexandra Fraser, a physiotherapy student from the Bendigo campus of La Trobe University, used her Rural Clinical Placement Grant to help fund her five-week placement in Wonthaggi.

The third-year student was assigned to Bass Coast Health, where she was able to get involved with the broad range of community programs that are available, one of the reasons she loved her placement so much. “I definitely think its somewhere I will apply to after I’ve done my fourth (year), mainly because I got to do a bit of everything. As a student, I still don’t know what I want to specialize in, so being able to go out into a rural community, you get such a wide variety of patients and areas that you can work in.”

Alexandra discussed how one of the most beneficial aspects of doing a rural placement, rather than one in a metropolitan area, was the varied opportunities she was offered. “Being my mixed placement, I wanted it to have diversity, but I got such a huge variety in the different demographics’ of patients that I don’t think I would have got in a city.”

The clinical placement in rural Victoria taught Alexandra many things related to Physiotherapy, but more importantly, she learned about the way a community organsiation works and the important role Physiotherapists play within the community. Alexandra began to develop a greater understanding of the difficulties people from regional areas have when accessing health care and how important it is for other people to develop this same understanding for there to be change. “People are travelling great distances to Melbourne and further to get the health assistance they need. Placing medical staff in these areas means patients won’t have to travel so far for what they need.”

Alexandra’s favorite aspect to her placement was the friendly and welcoming people. In a tight-knit community such as Wonthaggi where everyone knows everyone, she noticed how much people relied on one another. “They have lots of support networks in place where close bonds and friendships are formed; everyone was there to support each other.”
The helpful staff that enabled the students to try a range of different work in addition to allowing them to interact with so many patients were a very helpful facilitator, Alexandra discussed. “Then, of course, the patients were absolutely lovely and all very appreciative of all the help they could get.”

Alexandra spoke of how it was a great opportunity for any student, “It teaches you a lot of independence and responsibility. The experience of a rural placement gives students the opportunity to try new things and meet an assortment of different people that you otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to do in a large city.”

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