The ‘Benefits’ of a Pandemic

bonus student learnings during covid-19

How COVID-19 has value added to the student rural placement experience


2020 and 2021 have presented us all with enormous challenges, especially in the field of student clinical placements.  When challenges present themselves, there is such opportunity to think broadly, beyond the normal box, as the last two years have shown us.


In 2021 Going Rural Health was aiming to run face to face clinical placements in occupational therapy and physiotherapy with Disabled Wintersport Australia, providing students an opportunity to apply their university theoretical knowledge into a real-world context in the snow.  What better way to spend a clinical placement, than to apply assessment and intervention techniques into the world of adaptive sport.

With COVID presenting challenges of ski field closures, lockdowns and remote learning, our students were faced with adapting their face-to-face clinical placements mid-way to an online learning environment.  But with adaption and inventive thinking – these students completed tutorials setting up their home work-space into a make shift “sit ski”, interviewing participants via zoom and then watching videos of these people with disability skiing and boarding. 

COVID has presented many challenges to our lives, but along with it has come such opportunity for development of alternate options.  These students developed telehealth skills, virtual learning skills, skills in doing objective assessments via video link, team-work skills, and with a bit of luck some students also managed to get to the snow for at least a couple of days of face-to-face learning.

While the last two years have presented us with immense challenge, maybe there are a few things we have learned that we will keep, and continue to take into our future practice.  What challenging opportunities have you had in COVID times that will make you a better health professional?



Some Student Quotes:

“Thanks for the support received, especially contingencies.  This placement is good for setting student up for practice.” (OT Student 2021)

“Very beneficial placement, credit to all involved.” (PT Student 2021)

“I really enjoyed the placement, felt supported and it was rewarding to speak to participants of DWA and hopefully provide a resource that will allow them to continue growing as a company and providing amazing services to people with a disability” (PT Student 2020).


Please also see the videos below from participant students and DWA clients:


There’s a lesson in this for all of us – even in the hardest times something positive can be found. Just look for it!

Kylie Boscolo

Going Rural Health Wangaratta

Associate Lecturer, Rural Placement Education