Occupational therapy placement experiences
Placements are an important part of studying the Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (Honours). “JCU organises placements so that you're working in the field for almost six months. You have two seven-week placements and one ten-week placement. In that time, you're almost working as an independent therapist, depending on the practice area,” she says.
Before JCU OT students go on placements in their third and fourth year of study, they can submit a preference list of specialisations they are interested in. Mignon requested a placement in the hand therapy clinic at the Cairns Hospital.
“I felt like I learned the most when my supervisor wasn't actually at the table. She was in the same room, and she made sure that the patient was someone that I had the capacity to treat. I learned so much in those moments, and I gained much more confidence. Going on these placements was a major boost for me,” she says.
During another placement in the older persons ward (OPERA) at Cairns Hospital, Mignon says she loved the degree of freedom that her supervisor gave her. “I was doing my rounds every morning, and I would retrain people to use a shower, for example. I was able to do that by myself, and then report back to my supervisor at lunchtime or in the afternoon.”
Finding a job after a successful placement experience
After gaining the experience she needed at three different placement sites, Mignon found it easy to find a job right after graduation. She also didn’t feel overwhelmed when she started work at Cairns Occupational Therapy as a graduate fresh out of uni. “When I first applied, they said the last thing they ever wanted was their co-workers feeling overwhelmed or stressed,” Mignon says.
“During my first few weeks of working there, we co-treated because hand therapy can be quite complicated. My employer wanted to make sure that I'm confident enough to make the best recommendations. They also wanted to be sure that I was able to deliver a service they were happy with.”
Mignon says that after a few months on the job, she was able to work without direct supervision. “At this point, I'm only getting coached when it's a really complex case. This is when we bounce ideas off each other. I am really happy to be able to work in such a supportive environment and then be as independent as possible as well.”
Continuing professional development activities are ongoing and will be lifelong. “There are always new skills to develop and areas of practice to up-skill in,” Mignon says.