Student gains top award at OT conference | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Student gains top award at OT conference

24 Nov 2016

A University of the Sunshine Coast student has already made a name for herself in the Occupational Therapy (OT) world, with her final-year research project being selected as the best overall paper at a major professional conference.

Buderim resident Amy Elson, 30, won the award for her research into how to determine an advanced OT practitioner, which she presented to an audience of industry representatives at the recent Northern Territory and Queensland Division OT Conference.

Amy’s project involved interviewing dozens of occupational therapists about the benefits and logistics of creating an industry-wide advanced practitioner grading, and set out a potential framework detailing the skills and knowledge that would be required.

Amy said that she was delighted to win the award in a field that contained highly experienced occupational therapists.

“Having this type of framework would improve the industry’s standing within the allied health field, and clients could also benefit, because someone with complex needs could be seen by a practitioner with more experience and advanced skills,” she said.

“I also investigated barriers to a framework, such as the time that accreditation would take – most OTs are female and may take time out of the workforce to have children.”

Amy, who grew up in Perth, enrolled in a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy at USC after spending four years working at resorts in Canada, Malaysia and the Caribbean.

USC Lecturer in Occupational Therapy Dr Kieran Broome said Amy’s research was the first rigorous investigation of an advanced OT framework worldwide and would have a major impact.

“It’s putting a picture to something that is really difficult for people to grasp,” he said. “The advanced grading is something that the industry wants to move on, but up until now there hasn’t been any proper research into it.

“Amy’s research will help bring the OT industry forward, and winning this award reflects on the dedication that she brought to the topic.”

Amy is now preparing to present her research paper to the National Professional and Practice Standards working group for OT – a high-level committee which includes senior managers of allied health in each state.

— Gen Kennedy

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