Find out students reasons for undertaking distance study and how their learning has been applied in their workplace:
Postgraduate Diploma in Health Informatics
Being the only person in New Zealand looking after computer systems for the Safe Staffing in Healthy Workplaces Unit is a big responsibility. However, the Postgraduate Diploma in Health Informatics – a joint diploma between Otago’s Business School and Division of Health Sciences – is giving Nelson-based Rebecca Oakes the qualification to help her do her job.
Rebecca, a registered nurse, is a programme consultant for the Safe Staffing in Healthy Workplaces Unit, a joint initiative by the District Health Boards of New Zealand and the New Zealand Nurses’ Organisation. Her job involves standardising the use of patient acuity and nursing workload management tools (TrendCare) so that organisations have robust data on which to base staffing and resourcing decisions.
This role combines her previous experience as a nurse educator with her passion for making meaningful use of data and making it accessible to all. Rebecca hopes to complete her diploma by the end of the year and says the course has been “excellent”. Read more...
Postgraduate Diploma in Primary Health Care
John Kristiansen’s Postgraduate Diploma in Primary Health Care offered from the University of Otago, Wellington not only boosted his CV, but dove-tailed into his existing job.
A qualified pharmacist, John holds two positions within the Waitemata District Health Board’s Funding and Planning team: a project manager for the Quality Use of Medicines team, and as the Pharmacy Portfolio Manager.
Happy as he is in his career, he felt the need to add another qualification to his CV and also to study in an area that was broader than pharmacy, but still relevant to his career. The Primary Health Care qualification he recently completed, in which he focused on long-term conditions management, meant he could study at his own pace. For him this meant a paper a year and several opportunities for residential courses in Wellington. “The beauty of it was I was able to include quite a lot of the assignments, even project work, within my work.”
Tools he has been instrumental in developing, such as patient guides for saferx.co.nz – a website which contains medicines’ information for primary care – were developed as part of his diploma. Read more...
Master of Health Science (Sports Medicine)
Far away is never far from Otago: Podiatrist Catherine Willett jumped straight into postgraduate studies after her undergraduate degree, tackling a Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Medicine at Otago. It was her first taste of distance learning, and when she moved to outback Queensland she decided to continue with her studies to upgrade her qualificaton to a Masters degree.
Continuing with study is an important way Catherine can keep in touch with her clinical knowledge and skills. “Working in remote areas, you often feel out of touch with what’s going on in the cities. We don't have the opportunity to attend conferences and workshops readily so there’s a stigma that remote practitioners aren't as good or as well qualified as those on the coast. So I decided to enrol in a Masters of Health Science to keep up-to-date.” Read more ......
Certificate in Health Sciences (Radiation Therapy Advanced Practice)
Co-worker and fellow student keeps him motivated... I’m originally from Portugal. I finished my bachelor's degree in Radiation Therapy in 2006 and I have been working since 2010 for the Auckland District Health Board.Every year students spend time in our department hoping we can work magic and help them qualify. As a foreigner, I felt I needed to understand the way Radiation Therapy is taught in New Zealand in order to do a better job teaching them. Plus this further qualification might open some doors and help me progress in my career.
Staying motivated is definitely the biggest challenge when you’re learning via distance … after eight hours of work the last thing I want to do is shut myself in a room in front of the computer! However, my co-worker Amie Bryant is studying with me, so we keep each other motivated over a packet of ginger nuts and cups of tea.
The lecturers are all very helpful and supportive, and are available via e-mail and mobile phone. Read more ….
Master of Health Sciences endorsed in Aeromedical Retrieval and Transport
"I chose Otago because it is well-known in aero-medical care circles as the only university offering top quality graduate studies". Flight paramedic/rescue swimmer for the United Arab Emirates Air Force, Eddie is a part of the team responsible for all ICU transfer flights in the UAE Military, plus crews the helicopter for anything requiring Search and Rescue. His team also crews the Airforce medical flights in times of disaster, such as the Pakistan Earthquake, to repatriate victims.
"The course is well-structured and a fantastic entry into the field of aero-medical care. The course notes are of a high standard and the lecturers are readily available and truly committed to their students’ requirements". Read more...
Postgraduate Diploma in Occupational Medicine
How I found time to update my qualifications whilst working in several locations around the world... I'm involved in helping to maintain and set up occupational medical support in various industrial sectors. When I started my studies at Otago, I was working in several locations around the world, so my work involved intensive travelling interspersed occasionally with about two weeks of leave. This was when I had time to update my medical qualifications. The timeframe was virtually impossible for undertaking a postgraduate diploma, let alone embarking on a Master's degree. I came to meet doctor-students in different parts of the world who had similar challenges which Otago was able to help them meet.
The modular training at Otago is very appealing. With good time management, I'm usually able to keep up with the readings, and through some logistics planning I'm able to attend audio-conferences, submit homework on shedule and have even been able to attend the annual residential school in New Zealand. The facilitators are more than willing to assist with my queries as well as very helpful and understanding about the many times I encountered hurdles in my studies. Read more ...
Master of Health Sciences (Mental Health)
"The course was based around clinical work, so it was applicable and it helped me use my workplace for clinical learning".
Not long after Christchurch-based mental health nurse and addiction worker Claire Gilbert took up a position managing a clinic for women with addictions. Claire enrolled part-time in the distance-taught Postgraduate Certificate in Health Sciences while juggling full-time work and parenting. The certificate led to a diploma and later to a Master’s degree.
Throughout her studies Claire appreciated the integration of clinical and academic learning, and found this enabled the practical application of her learning. The lecturers were also readily available and promoted discussion, and they showed flexibility with deadlines – they really considered the realworld stresses that exist on students.” Read more ....
Master’s degree in Primary Health Care
The perfect way to combine study with motherhood and work: Balancing four children, a career and higher education is all in a day’s work for Liz Day, whose distance study with Otago University led to a new career as a full-time nursing lecturer. “... these qualifications open up so many doors; it’s up to you which ones you want to walk through.”
“Otago’s Distance Learning administration staff are fantastic and always accessible by email or phone. So are all the lecturers and course co-ordinators. You never feel you are being a trouble to anyone.” “There is also a course on improving your study habits, which really sets you up and teaches you the tools of the trade. It makes you think about your own learning style and what really works for you.”
Master of Teaching
Working in a secondary school inside a Youth Justice Facility brings its challenges, but it’s not why Nikki Hulton-Harrison is choosing to further her education.
As assistant principal at Te Maioha O Parekarangi, a division of Kingslea School which has schools in four Youth Justice Centres around New Zealand, Nikki works with students who have come from the court system.
Her papers in first a Postgraduate Diploma in Teaching, and now a Masters in Education, have been helpful with her work, but it was her own children she wanted to impress. “I have four children and two step-children and they have been talking about the qualifications they plan to get. I thought I wanted to be a role model for them and show them, I can do it. “It’s also about taking the next step to learn about my craft.”
Nikki and her fellow teachers have their students for as little as a week and up to a year. Their role is to continue, or in some cases kick-start again, education for the young people in their care. “It’s a very different way of teaching. Each of our students start with standard assessments to find out where they are at, and are then given individual programmes.” Read more...
Matiu Payne (Kāi Tahu, Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāti Kinohaku)
Master of Indigenous Studies
I chose postgraduate study via distance because I could fit it in with my work and family life.
I grew up in a rural Banks Peninsula community called Koukourarata (Port Levy). This was my pā, and base of my hapū Kāi Tūtehuarewa, of the Kāi Tahu people. I’m working full-time and the distance programme means most of my study is done after hours when the kids are asleep, or during work study time granted by my employer.
It was this specific course and the flexibility that wasn’t replicated anywhere else that made me choose Otago for my Masters degree. I also always loved Dunedin and my previous time at Otago when I started my undergraduate degree. My lecturers have been outstanding in terms of their knowledge and engagement online, and my supervisor is really supportive, even when his comments are challenging ideas I’ve put forward. This is part of the fun of it! Read more …
Master of Ministry
When Reverend John Ngalihesi returned to his homeland in Solomon Islands in 1999 after completing his undergraduate degree in Theology, he soon realised he wasn’t through with learning.
His country was disintegrating into a violent, ethnic-based conflict that would last several years, and John was appointed to a key role in co-ordinating the Melanesian Brotherhood – the largest Anglican community in the world and the only group of people who could move freely between the factions.
In the ensuing years he witnessed the atrocities of civil war and did what he could to intermediate between warring parties, local communities and the police while being chaplain and peace advisor to Prime Minister Sir Allan Kemakesa. The fighting ended in 2003 and John became the national co-ordinator for disarmament and an advisor to senior members of the Anglican Church of Melanesia and the government.
John felt strongly that he needed to reflect critically on what had happened and find a way forward through learning in order to help his country heal. In 2009 he was awarded a Church scholarship enabling him to travel to Auckland’s College of St John the Evangelist and undertake a Postgraduate Diploma in Theology via Otago’s distance learning programme. He completed this in 2010 and was offered the opportunity to progress to a Master of Ministry. His thesis records the peace-making efforts of the Melanesian Brotherhood, assesses the meaning of their martyrdom and surveys the legacy of peace they left behind. Read more ...
Master of Social Work
Putting whānau first: When Terri Caulcutt was in high school she was told the only job she should aspire to was typing. Now, as a mother of three, she has gained a Master of Social Work, having completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Social and Community Work at the University of Otago. That’s a long way from the typing pool, and her success is largely because of whānau support and the ability to study without having to leave home.
Terri is of Ngāti Maniapoto descent, and was brought up by her grandmother on a small farm near Piopio, in Te Rohe Potae. She completed a Bachelor of Social Sciences in 1998, later working with children and families at Child, Youth and Family in Hamilton. Here she recruits, assesses, supports and advocates for caregivers, reviews caregivers regularly and supports frontline social workers when whānau members want to become caregivers for their mokopuna.
Keen to gain full registration as a social worker, Terri enrolled in the Postgraduate Diploma programme offered via distance learning by the University of Otago’s Department of Social Work and Community Development. Terri received strong support from the Dunedin-based departmental staff, found the flexibility of distance learning helpful, and enjoyed participating in online discussions with colleagues.
The practical skills and knowledge Terri has gained from her studies so far will, in turn, help her to help other whānau. Read more ...
Doctor of Education
A medical man studying education: A paediatric surgeon and senior lecturer in surgery at the University’s Christchurch School of Medicine, he also found time to study for a Doctor of Education through Otago’s Distance Learning programme. While this might seem like an incongruous fit, Russell has a real interest in inter-disciplinary communication in the medical arena – in medical practice and in medical education – with a particular focus on the way inwhich personality influences communication style.
Almost as important as finding the right course, Russell needed to find a study option that he could fit around his already tight schedule. Otago’s Distance Learning programme offered him the flexibility he needed, as well as a sense of community that he also believes to be important.
“It suits my workplace situation – I have total flexibility and great support from administrative staff and lecturers. People are always there to call on via phone or email, or in person, and they always seem to be enthusiastic.
“The biggest challenge is fitting it all into an already busy life... Read more
Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Sciences (Textiles)
The combination of papers offered by the University of Otago, together with the quality and expertise of the staff attracted Trish Nugent-Lyne back to school – albeit by distance. Trish, Collection Manager at Whanganui Regional Museum, is working on her Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Sciences (Textiles).
Her day-to-day job entails looking after the objects in the museum’s collection, including negotiating with donors and vendors for new acquisitions, looking after storage and the database, and arranging for the loan of items. Part of the collection includes textiles, which were previously catalogued by “fantastic volunteers who knew all about them”.
When the volunteers were unable to assist any longer and personally seeking some extra stimulation (“it had been 20 years since I last studied”), Trish decided to do a qualification on the topic. Her background – an Otago undergraduate degree in History and Anthropology, and a PGDip in Museum Studies – didn’t cover textiles in any detail.
The combination of science and history which the Textiles PGDip covers has fuelled her interest and she now plans to undertake a master’s degree when her diploma is completed. Read more…
Postgraduate Certificate in Health Sciences (Hazard Assessment and Management
"The course coordinator was very supportive and the workshops were all well managed and relevant"
I’m currently working as the Compliance Officer in the Department of Physiology at Otago, having completed a degree in Pharmacology and a MSc in Toxicology. The Hazards Management qualification has given me a good background to local legislation regarding genetically modified organisms; plus a refresher on aspects of chemical Management, in New Zealand and globally.
Distance learning meant I could study at night, and when my son had an afternoon nap I could get a little bit of reading done — although when I had two children this became a bit harder!
The course coordinator was very supportive and the workshops were all well managed and relevant. They also gave you a chance to meet others who were part of the course. For the Environmental Hazards paper we went to the Green Island Landfill — who would have any idea how informative a trip to the rubbish dump could be! Read more…
Master of Consumer and Applied Sciences
Research leads to national award: The mother of four was awarded her distance-taught Master of Consumer and Applied Sciences in 2008. Her thesis involved researching the history behind an extensive collection of old garments and textiles held by the Nelson Provincial Museum. After her studies were complete, she s
et about creating an exhibition “Unpicking the Past", based on the collection. While this presented many challenges, Paula says the tools gained through her Otago studies, as well as a growing interest in the people behind the clothes, made it a labour of love and it went on to win the 2009 Museums Aotearoa Award for Exhibition Excellence, against some impressive competition.
Paula attributes much of her success to Otago’s Distance Learning programme. It allowed her to live in Nelson while taking advantage of all the University had to offer, through the use of the library service, online resources, extensive contact with her supervisors, conference calls and contact visits. Read more ...