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Diana Bowalgaha Ralalage
Diana Bowalgaha Ralalage
Postgraduate Diploma in Health Sciences endorsed in Musculoskeletal Management (2012)

Having previously studied in Dubai, Sri Lanka and Australia, it was natural for me to want to continue my studies when I moved to Christchurch, New Zealand as a new graduate nurse. I first started looking at postgraduate study options whilst I was a second year nursing student in Melbourne, though when I was about to complete my new grad year, I thought, “no more studies after all that!' It was with my husband's support and encouragement that I decided to embark on an exciting journey of postgraduate study with the University of Otago.

It was certainly a shaky start to say the least, when I began my Postgraduate Certificate in Health Sciences endorsed in Musculoskeletal Management. This was back in February 2011 with the Christchurch earthquakes and constant aftershocks! I remember having to rearrange all three of my bookshelves on three occasions when they had toppled over during the quakes and aftershocks. Anyway, it was an enriching, stimulating and challenging year, and I made it through and decided to move on to the Postgraduate Diploma in Health Sciences endorsed in Musculoskeletal Management.

2012 was an exciting year because I was looking forward to attaining the PGDipHealSc (MSMT) and attending graduation in Dunedin. I must admit that I love graduation! None of this would have been possible if it wasn't for the support and guidance that I received from the fantastic staff from the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery & Musculoskeletal Medicine, notably Mrs Veronica McGroggan, Dr Bronwyn Thompson and Dr Jim Borowczyk. A big 'thank you' to you guys for your patience, dedication and for making a difference.

I work as a general medicine nurse in Christchurch Hospital, and I wanted to pursue a further qualification as I hoped to go back to acute rehabilitation nursing one day (namely trauma and orthopaedics) as this was my background before commencing my new grad year. I learnt heaps whilst completing the musculoskeletal management papers, and it really opened my eyes to the concept of pain as I was able to understand better why a patient might be presenting the way they are, the concept of fear and avoidance, medical conditions that I see in my everyday practice such as gout, RA, OA, PMR, and using all this knowledge to empower my patients, and teaching what I've learnt to student nurses, new graduate nurses and my colleagues.

I remember I had to write ten reflective journal entries for one of the papers I was doing, and towards the end it made me realise that I loved working with palliative care patients and their families, as it became apparent to me that palliative care was a recurring theme in my reflections. It was then that I decided that palliative care nursing was my future, so I decided to embark on the Master of Health Sciences endorsed in Nursing (Clinical). I'm excited about where all this will lead me, and I encourage everyone to dip their toes in postgraduate studies if they can, as it is certainly very rewarding.

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