Noelle Ollerton from Canada studying a Bachelor of Health Science at USC Sunshine Coast

My name is Noelle and I am a 3rd year Bachelor of Health Science (Prosthetics & Orthotics (P&O)) international student at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC). I chose to come to Australia to study due to my longingness to travel, thirst for adventure, and its phenomenal weather! – And I am never regretted my decision, even despite COVID and all… At times it has been hard being away from all my family back home in Canada, but living so close to the beach – my happy place – helped to ease any negative feelings. The staff and my fellow peers of the P&O program at USC have become more like family than school mates as the class is rather small in size so we all get to know each other quite well, especially when we had the opportunity to work literally alongside each other making prostheses and orthoses in the workshop. Although COVID put an end to these lab sessions, since we all got along so well when the change was made to all online ZOOM sessions, the four-hour meetings were more bearable as they were a little more fun and light-hearted.

     The courses of the P&O program I found most enjoyable were the ones where we had the opportunity to meet volunteer clients, chatting, casting, and fitting our fabricated devices to. It was a rewarding experience to get a better ‘taste’ as to what our futures as a Prosthetists/Orthotists would entail and I thoroughly enjoyed the challenges of problem solving and creative thinking involved to get a suitable, evidence based, and well-fitting result – dependent upon the task at hand. Days spent in the lab modifying plaster casts and fabricating devices were always such a treat too! Draping thermoplastic check sockets has come to be my favourite task – my peanut butter and jam man!

     Currently residing in Townsville QLD for both of my 8-wk long student placements, I am enjoying the sun, the surreal-ness of my placement locations, interacting with clients and P&O clinicians alike. My first placement was at the Townsville Hospital where I was exposed to the multidisciplinary team environment and how they work collaboratively and cohesively together to better serve patients and help them meet their health care and P&O treatment goals. Now on my second placement at SSS, a private P&O clinic, I am gaining much experience in learning how to assess patients, develop evidence-based reports to justify the chosen device prescription, how to fit and fine-tune devices, and how to develop a more long-term relationship with clients as you seek to help them achieve their treatment goals and improve their quality of life.

     All in all, my student experience at USC has been one of the most spectacular school engagements I have ever had! May I encourage you all to continue onward and upward in your journeys through academia – Never stop shining – It’s your time to rise and shine!