Samantha completed an undergraduate Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science before undertaking her Master of Clinical Exercise Physiology – the qualification needed to be employed as a Clinical Exercise Physiologist.
“I was really lucky with my placements. I got to go to Mount Isa twice, first in the undergraduate degree and more recently during my Masters. They were both very different experiences.
“The clinic we were placed in works mainly with Indigenous communities and we did so many different things like drug and alcohol rehab, falls prevention, we also did lots of community-based hydrotherapy programs.
“We did a lot of education sessions, so we talked about the role of exercise and how exercise affects diabetes, how it can strengthen your muscles to help with back pain.
“Having the opportunity to work really closely with the speech pathology students and the OT students was a bonus because in a practice that is the allied health team we’d be exposed to.”
Samantha was also able to hone her interest in neurological rehabilitation through a placement at Sporting Wheelies in Brisbane.
“Our main rehabilitation was working with people who had spinal cord injuries, that was such an amazing learning experience. We did a lot of gait re-training and locomotor training which exposed me to things that I’d never seen before and the equipment there was unbelievable,” Samantha said. “I’m very glad I got that opportunity to go to Brisbane and use some of the latest equipment.”
Rounding out her placement experience was a stint at Townsville’s Good Shepherd residential aged care facility where she focused on building strength and muscle memory among dementia patients.
“Exercise is really good for everyone, especially as we age. It was a controlled environment, very safe for them and I loved getting to know all the different residents.”
And although the all the placements involved lots of hard work and learning, there was also a time for fun and socializing. “Mount Isa especially was a lot of fun, because there are so many students from lots of different faculties. You end up becoming really good friends with them, so on the weekends we did a lot of exploring.”
As for what’s next? For now, Samantha is keen to learn as much as she can in her first exercise physiology role. She also hasn’t ruled out returning to Mount Isa or a regional area if the right opportunity came up in the future.
And she plans to keep absorbing as much knowledge as she can from the experts she’s exposed to in the years to come.
“A major take away from my placements is the importance of all the different practitioners working together, so the speech therapists, the OTs, the medical students all sharing their expertise. Having that kind of cohesive team environment really helps, I learnt so much from all of them.”