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Maddie Johnston is a graduate Occupational Therapist (OT) at Function Therapy Allied Health Services in Horsham. With a dedication to learning and keeping up to date with evidence-based practice, Maddie took up the opportunity to apply for a RWAV CPD for Allied Health Grant. Maddie utilised her grant by undertaking a pain management workshop so that she could support her clients that live with chronic pain. We spoke to Maddie to hear more about her background and what it’s like to work in a team of allied health professions in rural Victoria.

Can you tell me a bit about your background, and how you came to work at Function Therapy?

I finished school wanting to work within the health and disability area. I completed my Cert IV in Disability during my gap year after high school. I then moved to Geelong to complete my Bachelor of Occupational Therapy at Deakin University for four years. The majority of my placements were in community Occupational Therapy, which I loved. Coming out of uni[versity] in 2017, I was keen to work anywhere to gain experience, even if it meant moving away from my friends and family. I found an ad for a community OT position at Function Therapy and jumped at the opportunity! I’ve been at Function Therapy for about a year now.

You grew up in Traralgon in rural Victoria. Did you ever consider working in metro areas or have you always wanted to work rurally?

I have considered working in metro areas, although at this point in my career I have a lot to learn and I like the variety and opportunity that working in a rural area provides.

You were a recipient of the CPD for allied health grant. What did you use the grant for and how has it helped you in your current role?

I used the grant to complete a two day pain management workshop in Melbourne. This workshop was very beneficial to me as a lot of my clients experience pain secondary to their disability or health conditions. From this workshop, I now have a good understanding of how pain works and how to support people to participate in daily life activities while experiencing chronic pain.

What is it like to work in a regional allied health clinic?

Working in a regional allied health clinic has been a great learning experience. There is a lot of opportunity to work with people from a range of backgrounds, which allows me to implement and improve my skills in all areas of OT. Everyone within the clinic is passionate about meeting the needs of the community and trying new things. We also have regular, regional OT meetings, which is great for networking and discussing different avenues for the profession.

Would you recommend other allied health professionals to take up this grant?

This grant has allowed me to further explore my areas of interest and keep my clinical skills up to date without the financial stress.

If you are interested in undertaking a course to upskill like Maddie, consider applying for the CPD for Allied Health Grant. RWAV offers grants and scholarships to allied health professionals working in rural and regional Victoria. Find out more at: https://www.rwav.com.au/professional-development/grants/.

The CPD for Allied Health Practitioners Grant is an initiative of the Victorian Government Department of Health & Human Services administered by RWAV.

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