Liz Day, full-time Nursing Lecturer and Distance Postgraduate Student.
Balancing four children, a career and higher education is all in a day's work for Liz Day, whose distance study with University of Otago led to a new career as a full-time nursing lecturer.
Liz came to New Zealand from Britain to work as a clinical nurse in 2004, and quickly decided to dip her toes into postgraduate studies through University of Otago, Wellington. She took papers in Mental Health Issues in Primary Care Settings, Health Sciences Research Methods, Te Tuhauora Maori Health and NZ Contemporary Primary Health Care. This year she'll start her Masters in Primary Health Care.
While she was studying she fell upon her new-found career lecturing second-year nurses at Whitireia Community Polytechnic in Wellington.
"There was another Whitireia Polytechnic lecturer doing one of the same papers I was at the Otago. She heard me giving a presentation and she liked it, approaching me to ask if I would fill in casually at the Polytechnic.
"I gained the confidence to do it because of studying at Otago. I had a strong clinical focus before, but Otago's papers are more academic, they lift your vision to see the bigger picture.
"With having a broader understanding of all the issues in health care, you're able to problem-solve. It's applicable in teaching, management, clinical work and more.
Otago was not Liz's first taste of distance learning. But she has found Otago more supportive and accessible than her previous distance study experience with British institutions.
"Otago's distance-learning administration staff are fantastic and always, always accessible by email or phone. So are all the lecturers and course coordinators, even out of work hours. You never feel you are being a trouble to anyone.
"I enjoy the teleconferencing, where at no cost, at a prearranged time, you dial a number and there are the other members of your course. We have debates, guest speakers...I'm a big talker, so having contact with the other course members makes a big difference."
Liz found distance learning through Otago to be the perfect way to combine study with motherhood and work.
"Having four kids and full-time work, I didn't want to travel all the way to Dunedin, so having an Otago base in Wellington was great.
"I can have my resource folder with me when I take the kids swimming and study at the pool-side, or during lunch breaks at work.
"They also offer you 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."
Liz's next step is to complete her Masters' thesis, concentrating on nurses working in Māori health-care providers, which will open a new set of opportunities for her.
"If you want to go into research or another clinical area or service, these qualifications open up so many doors; it's up to you which ones you want to walk through."