College of Healthcare Sciences

Publish Date

10 May 2019

The highs and lows of small town placements

Mason Rowley had options to go to towns like Charters Towers or Ingham for his fourth-year physiotherapy placement, but a desire to have a taste of true outback life drew Mason to a small, well-known town nine hours south west of Townsville by the name of Longreach.

“I wanted to really make sure that I went as rural as possible and so…Clinical Education Coordinator Carla Dyson put me out [at Longreach]” Mason says.

While the Qantas Founders Outback Museum and the Australian Stockman’s Hall of fame might lead the odd grey nomad to Longreach, Mason was after something a bit more experiential.

“I was quite interested in just a bit of a different experience,” he says. “I don’t know what I was looking for, maybe a bit of a different culture.”

Fortunately, the fourth year Physiotherapy student found all that and more in the small outback town on the Thompson River.

“The community was amazing and there were lots of things to do; they were really welcoming and I made a lot of new friends, which was awesome,” Mason says.

“It only has four physiotherapists there, three in the hospital and one private, so you see a broad range of presentations, which was really great.

“Muscle injuries, strains, and sporting injuries to ongoing rehabilitation services, amputations, all sorts of really interesting things.

“There were a lot of trauma incidents, which are really good to see for experience. One day we had a man come in to the hospital who had fallen off a large truck and had multiple fractures.”

Mason Rowley
Thompson River Queensland

Preparation for the real world

Experiences like these are what make JCU graduates so employable when they leave university, and it sets students like Mason up for success as their careers begin.

“I think it makes you a lot more rounded and gives you a better way of approaching all the situations, giving you a more in-depth look into the patient’s presentation,” he says.

That’s not to say Longreach wasn’t without its fair share of professional challenges, as Mason found out on the job.

“Trying to keep everything strict and confidential and professional in a small town and also the amount of knowledge that you needed to know was challenging,” he says.

Despite the challenges, Mason’s desire to go back to a rural area flourished in his time away from home, and it could reunite him with his own home town.

“I grew up in a place called Childers, very small. I’ve just always fancied the idea of going back there,” he says.

“I’ll be going metropolitan initially but I’m just enticed by the lifestyle.”

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