Rural Osteopathy Internship Opportunity

BY TAYLOR JOHNSTONE

5th Year Osteopathy Student & Upcoming Graduate – Victoria University, 2021

The day started before sunrise, meeting Osteo Louise Bibby in Pascoe Vale to join her for her weekly commute north to Swan Hill. The four-hour drive was full of conversation with plenty of discussion around rural practice and what I would experience in the short few jam-packed days ahead.

I gained an understanding of the many different hats that Louise wears daily, not just an Advanced Sports Osteopath, but as a clinic owner, Sports Medicine Australia state council member, the leader of Murray Mallee Sports Trainers, and director of Osteo Sports Network. Not to mention, being a Western Bulldogs VFLW player too!

She introduced me to Bridgewater bakery and its delicious delights at the 2-hour halfway point. Honestly, the time flew by with mentoring, hearing about plans and different opportunities for Osteopaths throughout. I sat in on some calls where Louise organised various bits and pieces and before you knew it we arrived at the Kerang clinic to meet Osteo Lachlan, before it was on to Swan HIll to begin the first day.

“It’s amazing the amount of work Lou puts into developing Osteopathy. I’d seen a bit of it in my work with Osteo Sports Network (OSN) in sports training for the Airforce in early 2020, but really didn’t realise the magnitude of it all from the back-end and how much hard work is put in.”

After a quick introduction into the clinic, I was straight into the thick of it, treating Lou for a footy injury. Talk about intimidating starts to hands-on treatment, having the clinic owner in my hands, but it was made so much easier having shared the ride. Despite not getting cavitation on some attempted manips, we worked through each technique until success was achieved and we were really able to see what was going on for me to improve upon.

I met Osteo Jake and was lucky enough to sit in on an extended rehab session in the gym with Louise before spending the next few hours in the room with her.

The range of patients I was fortunate enough to meet was nothing short of amazing – from pregnancy, farmers, post operative rehab, sports injury, the most frail of elderly women, and a new patient with a complex past pain history. The variety was just incredible, and it was a bigger breadth of patients than I’d see in weeks at the university clinic – in just 3 hours!!

”I think what really shone for me was that every patient was treated as an individual and, their time at the clinic was never just restricted to being on the treatment table.”

I was also privileged to treat patients that the team had lined up for me. Starting to get hands-on, build confidence, treat a variety of patients, and see the benefits that I can provide as an osteopath is just so rewarding – especially when I can translate some of the skills that I learned earlier in the day.

We headed down to Tyntynder Football Netball Club for a quick chat with the footballers about establishing a player and sports trainer-driven injury management, player wellness monitoring, and injury prevention strategy revolving around enhanced sports trainer mentoring and access to an injury clinic at CMO.

A few more patients, and just because the day wasn’t long enough, last of all was an essential sports taping workshop hosted at the clinic. Not only is there mentoring of osteopaths and students, Louise and her team mentor current and emerging local sports trainers to enhance their skills and confidence. The collaborative effort was great to see amongst new and experienced trainers. A mentoring, education, and support network that is invaluable to the local community, its teams, and clubs.

Another early start had me off to Wycheproof with Osteo Jess the next day. The Osteos take in turns fortnightly heading out on Osteo Outreach to treat roughly 12-15 patients over fully booked days. Also visiting other towns such as Birchip, Robinvale, and Ouyen, Jess and I had some great chats on common conditions she’s experienced, and some of the difficulties she’s navigated in her first few months as an Osteo.

In Wycheproof, we set the portable table up in the community resource center with consults kicking off at 9:00 am. A range of patients came through the doors from near and far. I assisted over a busy day – note-taking, greeting patients, new patient forms and admin, taking payments, sending invoices, along with assisting with soft tissue work on patients. The day really allowed me to get a grasp of the back end of establishing an osteopathic outreach service, and the effort and responsibility required to look after a day in business without administration support. A lot more goes into running a business than simply treating patients!

I observed people with chronic conditions, on CDM plans and new injuries, and it set me up to see the scope of presentations in a small country town like Wycheproof. From farmers, teachers, the local postman, the publican, parents, and grandparents, I got a great spectrum of the town. It was also a bonus sneaking over to the bakery to refuel in the breaks. I would highly recommend the local Wycheproof bakery if you are ever passing through!

”It’s just a credit to the team to set up this outreach program that expands the reach of our profession and ensures that more people in pain and discomfort can access a health service that can really assist them. We had patients traveling over an hour to Wycheproof, and that’s on top of the hour we came from Swan Hill. It’s just incredible the impact that we can make on people as Osteopaths, and how by improving one area of a person’s life we can really set them up to thrive.”

Good Friday’s “crop drive” home to Melbourne with Lou was a chance to view some of the Mallee’s highlights. A walk along the Murray River, a trip across to Sea Lake, viewing various Silo Art murals, and a trip out to Lake Tyrrell to experience one of Australia’s biggest inland salt lakes, its “Sky Mirror” and some 0-horizon photos. Breathtaking views.

A stop by the family farm where the broadacre Bibby Farming team got me riding in the back of the ute to the paddock, and driving one of the biggest tractors I’ve ever seen. Getting to see first-hand where our produce comes from and the hard work that our farmers put in to ensure we can thrive.

All in all, the trip was an incredible way to up-skill in my final years of uni study. Not only did I see a huge amount of patients but I’ve learnt so much of what I can do with my skills as an osteopath outside the treatment room. This trip really opened my eyes to the true benefits of rural work and placement. I’d thoroughly recommend visiting the team here, or any other incredible osteopaths across regional Australia because my experience has been invaluable.

Many thanks to Lou and the team at Central Mallee Osteopathy, and to all the locals who supported me in my couple of days in Swan Hill. I’ll definitely be back.

To inquire about student and locum rural placement opportunities at CMO:
Please email: cmo.osteo@gmail.com

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