COVID-19 takes its toll on Peel students' work placements

With Peel students missing out on work placements due to COVID-19, many are unsure whether they can graduate this year. Photo: File image.
With Peel students missing out on work placements due to COVID-19, many are unsure whether they can graduate this year. Photo: File image.

As part of her final year as an allied health student, Grace Hutson had to complete 42 weeks of work placements to meet graduation requirements.

But as COVID-19 took its toll, placements were cancelled, leaving many students such as Grace concerned about their future.

Miss Hutson said she had one of her internships cut short and her other placements were cancelled.

"I was scheduled to be on a regional placement in Bunbury and Busselton for eight weeks but it was cut short to five weeks due to the regional borders closing," she said.

"I was scheduled to complete a placement at a child development service immediately after the regional placement, however, that was cancelled as a result of COVID-19 and a replacement has not been offered as of yet.

"I have no confirmed placement working with paediatric clients right now, which is a requirement for graduating."

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With her placements cut short, Miss Hutson said she had lost valuable experience.

"I have recently finished a placement on campus, which was once a week and ran for five instead of eight weeks," she said.

"I have definitely been cut short by at least a month's worth of experience that I was expecting to get.

"It didn't affect my grades, however this change in my placement schedule has prevented me from gaining valuable experience with telehealth services as well as prevented me from completing a component of my overall graduation requirement."

Noticing how many students would be impacted by cancelled work placements, PeelConnect's MACS coordinator Doreen Jones said she had students completing work experience at the organisation.

"A lot of places have been closed down for students on placements so we've got six students doing their time for work placement through MACS," she said.

"The team has been wonderful and staff even worked extra days so we could have these students here.

"This has been very valuable for the students to actually get that placement experience to complete their qualifications."

Despite organisations such as MACS taking on extra interns many students are still missing out on their placements.

With her paediatric placement cancelled, Miss Hutson is uncertain about whether she can graduate this year.

"I don't know if I can graduate yet but the uni is trying really hard to keep all prac students informed about what is happening," she said.