That’s what SHE said blog: Placement in the time of COVID-19

The ‘That’s what SHE said’ blog is written by SHE College student Mel. As an intern for the college of SHE and a Peer Learning Advisor, Mel is passionate about sharing ideas and highlighting the services available to you in order to make Uni life just a little easier.

When applying for my Master of Speech Pathology and reading about the practical placements we would experience, I was thrilled.  I immediately began getting my immunizations in order and considered enrolling in a first aid and CPR course.  I was excited and nervous about getting in and getting my hands dirty, so to speak.

Then COVID-19 arrived.  Now we all feel a little less trusting and more anxious (and have become experts in hand washing and coughing into our elbows!) Even just travelling to placements is complicated for many of us.  There are so many processes and boxes to tick.

As I sat through my orientation for the clinic I have been placed in, I did feel overwhelmed. I listened carefully as my Clinical Educators detailed the new processes they had put into place to ensure the safety of our clients, staff and students. But I was also happy to be progressing and that helped ease some of the nerves I was having around the new processes. I couldn’t help but think about the things I was learning and experiencing that a typical placement could never have provided.  I knew I was being given responsibility to be cautious and to remain diligent with the cleaning and sanitizing processes that keep our clients, staff and students safe. 

Can I still do this?

With the further changes announced as we headed into Stage 4 of lockdown in Melbourne, I began to reflect on what I was willing to participate in and why.  I had to decide if I was willing to continue clinic or if I needed to opt out. We do have a choice and it is important to recognize how you are feeling and to consider any personal health issues you have or within your family. I have chosen to opt in, and to remain flexible during this process.

We are learning, developing and practicing .

Flexibility

We must be ready to adapt as new rules come in at each stage of lock down.  Being flexible is challenging.  Researching, planning and detailing therapies we will conduct with our clients, knowing that we may not get the opportunity to deliver the plans until restrictions ease, is being flexible.  With this flexibility we are learning, developing and practicing our decision-making skills, choosing what and how we deliver evidence-based therapies.  This skill is certainly required in a workplace. We will often have our days planned out, lists ready to tick off, only to be thrown a curve ball that means all that must be put aside, and the new task embraced.

Resilience

I am the first to say there have been tears, there have been frustrations and I have called my Mum more than ever recently, but I am still progressing, still learning and still achieving. Remember, being resilient isn’t getting it all right and keeping it all together. It’s staying hopeful, getting up regardless and doing your best.

Considering others

This week especially I have seen the tired look in my educators’ eyes.  They are constantly reforming and reworking our courses for online delivery, all whilst developing new ways of conducting workshops and skills classes that are usually face to face.  Here’s what I want to say to them and I encourage you to do the same:

I don’t feel at all like I am missing out, or not getting the full placement experience. Instead I have the invaluable experience and skill development that only this experience brings.  Flexibility, resilience and a deeper empathy for clients and my Clinical Educators.

If like me you are on placement, good luck, stay safe, and look for the ways you are learning in this new environment.  Don’t forget to seek help if you need it and speak up if you are feeling overwhelmed. You can always drop into the eMentor meetups and talk to other students who are on placements like you. 

Dates for upcoming Meetups:

If you have any questions regarding these groups, check out the virtual event planner or contact Rita via email on r.manessis@latrobe.edu.au or find the event via the La Trobe Virtual Planner.