There are so many different experiences Australia has to offer and as International ACU Occupational Therapy student Kelly Kan learned, they don’t end in the city!
Most tourists and students only see the hustle and bustle of the capital cities but Kelly found that her clinical placement in a small country town taught her a lot about people, culture and building relationships with clients.
Kelly had her clinical placement in Nhill, a small country town in Victoria with a population of under 2500.
“I was so excited to work in the hospital in the country to see the difference between the people in city and the country,” Kelly says.
She would walk to the hospital each morning and she says there were no cars around – even at 5pm.
Her first taste of the country lifestyle was on her first weekend, when a nurse invited her to lunch on her parent’s farm where there were sheep, ducks and chickens.
“For lunch, the vegetables were from their farm and her father told me that he likes making sauce rather than buying it from supermarket. It was very fresh and I wouldn’t have had it in the city.
“It is very traditional and people that live in country tend to do everything themselves rather than purchasing (such as food or sauce).”
Kelly says even though she was busy every day, she was not stressed and the environment was much less stressful than working in the city.
She learnt a lot from her supervisors who were also supportive and happy to answer all her questions, even researching before they got back to her to ensure their answers were accurate.
“My supervisors provided a lot support to me and so did the staff in the hospital such as the nurses and physiotherapist.”
She enjoyed the laid-back lifestyle in Nhill, where people were relaxed, kind and supportive to each other.
“The people were affectionate and would smile or greet you when they saw you. They are friendly, polite, very welcoming and warm-hearted.”
Doing home visits and having school sessions were the things she enjoyed the most while on her clinical placement.
“I loved talking to the clients as I could get to know them to build up a relationship with them. The elderly people were so lovely and I felt warm and touched every time they thanked us.”
Kelly says the children were very grateful for the time she spent with them and they were always cheerful.
“For my last session with a child, he said ‘Kelly, thank you for teaching me and I enjoyed the time with you, wish you have a good holiday’, it was very touching.”
On weekends she experienced the country by walking around the lake and hiking with other students.
“It was a peaceful, safe, quiet and beautiful environment. I felt so relaxed and there were a few people who did walking and running there as well. I also did hiking on weekends as well with other students.”
She said she gained a lot from her clinical placement at Nhill’s hospital and would “definitely” recommend a rural placement to students.
“Even if you are not an OT student, I would highly recommend students to have placement there or a rural placement.
“You will see a lot in the country and learn a lot from the people that spend their whole life in the country,” she says.
“I found that people in city are more rushed and tend to do things quickly and focus more on the client’s needs rather than the whole person (e.g. client’s feeling). You will definitely learn a lot about different culture when talking to the clients.”