Meet our Community and Clinical Health students

Students in the Department of Community and Clinical Health are preparing for entry-level practice in the Australian health sector

Jessica Crngarov

Meet Jessica Crngarov (pictured above), a fourth-year student in the Bachelor of Applied Science/Master of Orthoptics degree.

“I fell into orthoptics,” says Crngarov. “I knew I wanted to do something health-related, but wasn’t sure what. Learning about eyes sounded interesting, so I decided to enrol in the Bachelor of Applied Science/Master of Orthoptics degree – and I love it.”

As part of accreditation, Crngarov has been undertaking placements, starting at the La Trobe University Orthoptic Eye Clinic.

“I worked with paediatric patients with diverse conditions,” she explains. “When I wasn’t seeing patients, my supervisor would encourage me to reflect on my experience so that I could refine my practice.”

Crngarov enjoyed honing valuable technical and professional skills. “I finished confident and prepared for my next placement, which was at the Royal Children’s Hospital,” she says.

“I love working with people. I am looking forward to graduating and making a difference to health in a clinic or hospital setting.”

Mairead O’Connor

Mairead O’Connor is a first-year student in our Master of Occupational Therapy Practice degree.

“During the pandemic, I had time to reassess my values and consider different career pathways,” says O’Connor. “I decided that studying occupational therapy was right for me because of its holistic and empowering approach to care.”

The course, O’Connor says, is setting her up for success both during her study and when she graduates.

“My teachers are highly-experienced, passionate, and have valuable clinical expertise,” O’Connor explains. “We also do a lot of scenario-based learning where we put the theory into practice, which helps us to hone our skills and prepare for practice.”

O’Connor hopes to work as a forensic occupational therapist, and support people living with a mental illness who have a history of, or are at risk of, criminal offending.

“The forensic population is often forgotten, vulnerable to mental illness and marginalised,” says O’Connor. “I want to improve their quality of life, and help to build safer and healthier communities.”

Kaari Pallandi

Kaari Pallandi is a second-year student in our Master of Clinical Audiology degree.

“After completing my undergraduate degree in social work, I began working in the disability field,” explains Pallandi. “It was during this time that I developed a keen interest in how hearing works. The effects of unaddressed hearing loss inspired me to make a career change.”

“I’m so pleased I chose to study at La Trobe,” she says. “The lecturers have significant expertise and bring a real enthusiasm for the content into the classroom. This, combined with the smaller cohort size, contributes to a supportive and motivating learning environment.”

Pallandi has had the opportunity to practice her clinical and professional skills in a range of placement settings. “The experience has been invaluable,” says Pallandi. “Next, I will be completing a six-week placement in Darwin where I can develop my skills in a remote community.”

“I love that this degree has exposed me to a range of pathways in audiology. I would love to work in a diagnostic setting when I graduate, but I’m excited about all the possibilities ahead of me!”

Kirty Phillips

Kirty Phillips is in her final year of her a Bachelor of Human Services/Master of Social Work degree and is also a recipient of the La Trobe Access Scholarship.

Phillips personal journey through the public health system has heightened her sense of social justice and drive. "During that time, I witnessed and experienced certain injustices that often left me feeling powerless and helpless as an individual," explained Phillips. "Knowing that I was not the only one feeling this way, I felt compelled to do something about it."

During her degree Phillips had the opportunity to put her learning into practice with a placement within a project team at Mental Health Victoria. "My placement provided me with insight into the current issues in the field and the career pathways available," says Phillips. "I now feel more confident knowing what skills I can offer in the workplace."

Following her graduation Phillips would like to transfer her skills and knowledge towards creating effective change in the mental health field.

Find out more about the Department of Community and Clinical Health on the website and LinkedIn.