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Maria van den Heuvel

The Commerce building

Maria van den Heuvel
Maria van den Heuvel

Clinical Nurse Specialist, Burwood Spinal Unit

Maria felt sure that the RTRU would be able to give her what she wanted, “I was aware the RTRU had a fantastic teaching staff committed to evidence-based rehabilitation.” She also adds, “I have been able to apply the new knowledge I have gained whilst studying into my practice.”

Maria qualified as an enrolled nurse in 1984 and since then has continued to pursue new knowledge and skills.

This began with an upgrade of her nursing qualification in 2003 when she graduated with a Bachelor of Nursing. Then in 2005 Maria graduated with a Postgraduate Certificate in Health Sciences (endorsed in Rehabilitation) and in 2008 graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Rehabilitation from the University of Otago, Wellington. And it doesn’t stop there: she has started her Masters by research in 2010, also with the Rehabilitation Teaching and Research Unit at UOW, to be submitted in 2012, Lived experience of managing paid personal care following spinal cord injury. An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA).

Of her study and career in rehabilitation, Maria says, “I am committed to a patient-centred approach and wanted to improve my practice in order to support individuals (particularly those with spinal cord injury).”

The new knowledge has had tangible results, with Maria being successful in obtaining a dedicated Clinical Nurse Specialist position to address sexuality rehabilitation. She believes that the skills she learnt in writing a business proposal were fundamental to the creation of this position.

Not only are there benefits for her workplace from study, but for herself as well. “I believe since studying in this area I have developed a more questioning approach to my own practice,” she explains.