Gracemere mum Melissa Cameron used to work in rehab roles relating to case management, insurance and financial arrangements.
Now her kids are getting older, she's focused on returning to the rehabilitation workforce in a hospital setting, where she can be face-to-face with her clients.
"I'm keen to help people who are injured or ill more directly in a one-to-one capacity and help them walk or move again," Melissa says.
"Previously, I've only been able to let them know if their claim has been funded or not."
Melissa has chosen CQUniversity's Bachelor of Allied Health, because much of it can be completed online from home, except for residential schools and clinical placements.
As a bonus, the first year of the refreshed degree structure includes an embedded Certificate III in Allied Health Assistance.
This embedded qualification enables students to seek work as an Allied Health Assistant while completing the rest of their degree.
"I really enjoyed my recent clinical placement with the Rockhampton Hospital Rehabilitation Unit, who provided a great hands-on learning experience with a wide variety of rehab patients," Melissa says.
"I was able to see how the rehab multidisciplinary team members work together to help patients achieve their goals.
"It was inspiring to see how the hard work of the patients paid off and I was amazed by the gains they made in partnership with their rehab team."
CQUniversity Allied Health Head of Course Dr Melanie Hayman says that bachelor degree students can now gain the necessary qualifications to enter the workforce as recognised allied health professionals.
"As Allied Health Assistants, our students will be presented with the unique opportunity to further develop their knowledge, training and skills as well as to establish professional collaborations and relationships, all whilst they continue to study," Dr Hayman says.
"Our Allied Health graduates will, as a result of this novel work, be highly sought after as genuine work-ready graduates.
"The impact of this activity on this industry is also significant as we are now able to fill and service a current workforce shortage of allied health professionals."
CQUniversity has worked in partnership with the Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service (CQHHS) to support a strategy of articulation and integration of Allied Health students learning across the VET and higher education sectors.
Question: Can you tell us about your recent job swap?
Melissa Cameron: Sure, I have been a stay at home Mum since 2016 but prior to that had been working for the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) as a Rehabilitation Coordinator. I enjoyed my job but always felt like I wanted to be doing more to help people other than processing claims. When my husband and I moved our family to Queensland in 2017 I had to resign from my job as TAC in Victoria only. I had been thinking about getting into Allied Health for some time and recently had the opportunity through the course of my degree to participate in student work placement at the Rockhampton Base Hospital's rehab unit and I thoroughly enjoyed it. For the first time I was working face to face with people and was able to be a part of the recovery and contribute positively to this. Swapping roles has been amazing and I'm looking forward to working as an Allied Health Assistant in the future.
Question: What do you enjoy most about being face-to-face with your clients?
Melissa Cameron: I think seeing the strength and resilience of people. Being able to work with them to achieve their rehabilitation goals and seeing the incredible gains that they make. It's a great feeling.
Question: Why did you choose CQUniversity's Bachelor of Allied Health?
Melissa Cameron: I spent a great deal of time tossing up between physiotherapy and occupational therapy and just couldn't seem to decide which discipline I'd rather so I started looking at other options and that's when I found the Bachelor of Allied Health. It was perfect actually because it provides great foundations upon which one can build in later and there is the potential to transfer to more specific disciplines after the first year of study. It is online, which worked perfectly for our family as it allows me to study while still being able to care for our children and by the time the three year degree is completed my youngest child will be starting school so the timing will be perfect.
Question: How did your clinical placement help your studies?
Melissa Cameron: Clinical placement was fantastic, it really helps you to cement all of that theoretical knowledge and put it into real world practice. It's also very helpful for someone like myself who perhaps isn't sure of what specific discipline they would like to pursue as there is the potential to work among all of the Allied Health disciplines (physio, speech pathology, podiatry, occupational therapy, dietetics etc...) to really get a feel for them and see which ones you might best be suited to.
Question: What advice do you have for other aspiring health professionals?
Melissa Cameron: Just to go for it because it's so great to be able to help people get back on their feet after illness or injury. I can't imagine a more rewarding role.
Question: What's a typical day like, for you?
Melissa Cameron: Well a typical day for me is to get up and get my kids ready and then off to school, all except for my youngest son who is home with me four days a week and has 1 day of daycare a week. I come home and do a quick tidy of the house, put on some laundry and sit down to study. I study all day (a few breaks throughout to make food for my son) until it's time to pick the kids up from school. Once the kids get home I spend time with them all, make dinner, and then after they've showered and gone to bed I do more laundry and usually sit down to do some more studying before I go to bed.
Question: What's next, for you?
Melissa Cameron: Well I'm about to start the second year of my degree so what's next for me will just be more studying.
Interview by Brooke Hunter