What an experience. My trip to the Mallee to do placement with Central Mallee Health and Outreach Osteo definitely lived up to my expectations.
It began on Sunday night when I picked up Lou in Melbourne and drove to her family farm in Berriwillock in the northern part of Victoria. The four hour drive, which Lou usually completes solo each week, left amazing time and space to receive plenty of life and career advice, filling some of the holes that were missing from university transitions.
When we arrived, I met her mother, a beautiful, hospitable woman who was kind enough to have a hearty farm dinner waiting. With an abundance of typical farm animals, I was particularly fond of their quirky farm cats, getting a warm and friendly welcome from “Black”. We hit the hay pretty quickly and woke up early the next day to head to Birchip for outreach.
Birchip is a quiet little town, and our outreach took place in a beautifully renovated country style building. A nervous start to the morning, I prepared myself well in advance and saw five patients in total for the day. My favourite client was an older woman with shoulder issues that had been recurring for quite some time. It was great to have some supervision and support, where I could be shown some rib and shoulder articulation techniques which I will definitely use in the future.
I also had a patient with some recurrent TMJ pain who needed a pterygoid release with an approach that involved treating inside the mouth. We refreshed this technique together in real time and I was able to perform it on the patient with more confidence. In between my patients, I observed Lou treat. My favourite part of that was hearing how she explained conditions to patients so seamlessly, and the willingness of the locals to assist my growth as a student intern.
After a big day at Birchip, we headed back to the farm. Again, Lou’s mum was kind enough to make us a really tasty dinner (she is an amazing cook!), and I met the other two farm cats, “Charlie & Simba”. As a cat person, I was in HEAVEN! (If you couldn’t tell!).
The next day we were up even earlier before the sun had even risen, and drove to the practice in Swan Hill, enjoying the Mallee sunrise on the way. The practice is a really calm, vibrant space. There are comfy couches and plenty of space for staff to relax and hang out. There is a rehab gym, and the treatment rooms are really nicely decorated and fitted out. The team are super lucky to have such an amazing place to turn up to work together each day!
The Central Mallee Health team are lovely and were all really happy to have me observe. They included me in the consult and encouraged my questions and thoughts. They all openly shared rehab and treatment techniques as well as their clinical reasoning with me. I spent the next two days at Swan Hill treating and observing. On top of all of that, Lou did a shoulder rehab tute for all of the staff. A great sequence that I will use with my own shoulder patients.
Overall, this is an experience I highly recommend. Lou was very generous, paying for petrol, practically all of my food, and supplying all accommodation. I was welcomed and treated like family. I can’t wait to go back in October
By Monica Bruce
Source (with photos): https://www.outreachosteo.com.au/stories/transition-to-practice