At Independent Rehabilitation Services we offer an immersive student placement program, providing as much insight as possible into the life of a community neuro clinician. We really integrate students into our team – they are assigned a dedicated supervisor, IRS email and they complete a thorough induction. Their clinical work involves attending home visits, and assisting with treatment notes and report writing. Additionally, students get a real feel for the workplace culture, attending meetings, internal professional development and social events.

Mia La Rosa (pictured above with OT Team Leader, Shona Rudland), Occupational Therapy student from La Trobe University, spent 8 weeks on student placement with us. We caught up with her to learn how she found her experience.

Hi Mia, thanks for agreeing to share your reflections from your placement. Looking back on the past 8 weeks, tell us what your favourite moments were.

My favourite moment, clinically, was when working with a client who did not participate in many meaningful activities. We managed to liaise with a recreational specialist to organise the client to participate in an all abilities soccer group, as he is a really big soccer fan. My supervisor and I were able to attend his first session and it was so amazing to see a big smile on his face and him being really engaged in the session. It was so heartwarming to help provide him with this opportunity to have more purposeful and meaningful activities to look forward to in his week. 

In terms of the workplace culture, definitely my favourite moments were the Wednesday social lunches. This provided a great opportunity for the multidisciplinary team to catch up and get to know each other. Particularly the reverse charades game was so entertaining and a really great bonding experience for myself and the team.

What aspects of the placement did you find most valuable?

The placement as a whole was extremely valuable, particularly in having a variety between client contact and indirect client work. My supervisor allowed me to take the lead on a particular client throughout my placement which I found overtime gave me much greater confidence in the sessions and in myself, applying my OT skills. I was also able to help complete a few different reports for both NDIS and TAC, which greatly developed my understanding of both systems and the processes involved, which I hadn’t had much previous experience with.

Were there any challenges you faced during the placement?

I found the report writing a bit challenging at first, particularly with the NDIS and equipment reports. After completing a few, my supervisor would read through and clearly comment parts that she would change or add to, which really helped in identifying aspects I needed to improve on. My supervisor gave me lots of opportunities to practise and overcome this, which helped me feel more confident in my report writing and justification.

What kind of support did you find most helpful from your supervisor/colleagues?

I found it helpful from colleagues, when joining them on home visits, we would discuss everything I needed to know about the client and the purpose of the session prior so that I was prepared with all the necessary information to understand what was happening. Afterwards, we would debrief about how the session went, what are the next steps and answer any questions that I had. The IRS team as a whole provided such amazing support across my placement also, making me feel extremely welcomed. Everyone made me feel so supported and were always checking in on me and willing to take time out of their days to help me with anything I needed.

How has this placement experience influenced your career goals? 

This experience has shown me how amazing community neuro OT is. I had no prior experience in the community setting but have always been interested in neuro. In my whole 8 weeks there was not a single day that was the same. This placement opened my eyes to the large variety of work that we can do to help those in this space and how meaningful the role is in increasing function, independence and participation.

What advice would you give to another student who has been allocated a placement in community neuro OT?

To keep an open mind in sessions. There may be a lot of trial and error as well as reliance on observation in sessions however this is important to ensure you can provide the best outcome for the client in achieving their goals. I would also say to ask lots of questions of your supervisor and other colleagues as they all have amazing experience and approach situations in their own way which may help you with a certain task and give you ideas that might be relevant to your client.  

What was your overall impression of Independent Rehabilitation Services from your 8 weeks with us? 

IRS provided me with such an amazing placement experience, remaining true to their values and creating an incredible environment for me to develop my learning. They showed a large amount of support for their colleagues and myself through formal and informal supervision and had lots of professional development programs available to all and I was lucky enough to be able to join in on. Throughout the 8 weeks everyone was so kind and always checking in to see how I was going. My supervisor and the OT team leaders were always ensuring that I had as many opportunities for home visits and made sure I was able to observe/experience anything I was particularly interested in. 

Do you have any final reflections or comments?

I am so grateful to the entire IRS team for making me feel so welcomed and providing me with many opportunities to develop my learning. The team always valued my opinion and I felt so supported during my time. Thank you to everyone for making this such an amazing experience!

Thank you so much Mia, you’ve been such a valuable member of the team during your time with us. We wish you all the best with the remainder of your studies and we just know you’re going to be a fantastic OT!

If you’re interested in finding out more about the student placement program at Independent Rehabilitation Services, read about careers at IRS or get in touch with us at