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Placement is a Roller Coaster!

By Kymberley Walker, JCU 3rd Year Occupational Therapy Student

You want to be an Occupational Therapist. You’ve enrolled at uni and spent two and a half years learning all the things. Now they want you to go and take all that knowledge you’ve gained and practice using it in the real world with real clients – wait, what?!

Pre-placement:  Things you need: blue card? Check. Student placement ID? Check. Ironed uniform? Check. Received a million emails about ensuring PPRs (pre-placement requirements) are all in order? CHECK. Finally, an email that you want to read, allocations have been released.  Login to InPlace… wait they changed it? What? Who do you ring? Okay found it, the supervisor’s name is Amanda and it’s a collaborative style. Do you know what that is? Check lecture notes – ahh collaborative means there’ll be another student with me. Google clinic. Hang on Amanda is an admin. Maybe JCU made a mistake?! Best to sit on it for a few days in case it’s a mistake... Nope definitely Amanda. Okay time to call… ohhh Amanda IS an admin and the OTs are the supervisors. Got it. Wonder who the other student is….

Day 1: One word: Nervous. What have you gotten yourself into? Google maps. Need to be there at 9. Is there time to get a coffee first… hmm best not, need to make sure you’re not late on the first day. Arrive at 8.55, perfect - not too early, not late. Ladies at the front desk are really helpful and walk you around to the clinic rooms. Holy moly, there’s people everywhere and, wait, the other student is already here. Hooray! Its someone you know, and they are awesome. Off to a good start. First up, Induction and finding out what my projects are.  Someone offers you a coffee. New. Best. Friend. Back to the list… how are you ever going to get this done. What information do you put in a timeline? Seven weeks seems like ages. Right everything will be done and submitted by week 5 – no worries.

Week 1 and 2: Two words. Learning plan. That is all.

Well, actually, there’s also DVA runs, paediatric clients, NDIS clients, learning systems, working out who to see about what, screenings, assessments, notes, doing a timeline for completing tasks. And did we mention, learning plan?! Okay it’s submitted. Phew. You quickly realise that admins are key to whole process and keep everything working.

Week 3: SPEF-R. Argh this thing is huge. Does it look bad if I score myself lower than the supervisors do? Probably not as bad as scoring yourself higher… Would not recommend completing late at night, brain function is at all-time low. Supervisors inquire about stress levels – you report that all is good, nil concerns.  Phone call from the uni. “How are you enjoying placement?” “Excellent, very interesting, no concerns.” You are starting to talk the way you write clinical notes…

Week 4 and 5: I’d like to change my answer. You know nothing. It feels like you need to improve at everything. Supervisor asks what you do well. The response? “umm... well, I managed to speak English with them…”  Write client notes. So many client notes. What do the abbreviations mean again? Ordering equipment. What even is that thing? Google. Coffee. You wonder if you can just get that latte by IV drip… So many questions. So much to learn. Prepare session plans. Write notes. Hand in student projects in draft. Feedback: “Writing is too academic.” Argh. Might be time to mention to the supervisors that stress levels are peaking…

Week 6: Only two weeks to go. How did that happen?! So much to do still. Need to work on… all the things and see clients. Also need more practice working with aged care clients. Go on a run to Ayr. So interesting to see how resilient rural towns are. Cross Burdekin River. Hard to imagine that it was over-flowing just a few months ago! OTs check that you have achieved everything in learning plan you wanted to because if not now is the time to do it. Need to revisit my learning plan. Actually, looks like you will get it all achieved. Starting to feel almost competent. Almost.

Week 7: This is it. Home stretch. Student in-service. Personal reflection. Final SPEF-R. Not this again. Should do it earlier this time... Hahaha. You can’t believe what you have achieved in 7 weeks but are even more amazed at how fast time has gone. Don’t want to leave… can I come back?! Start to get emails about next placement. Here we go again…

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