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Three New Zealand Occupational Therapists are in the running to receive the inaugural Pearson ‘Always Learning’ award – a $5000 study grant aimed at acknowledging the important contribution Kiwi Occupational Therapists make to the community.
Private practitioners Glenda van de Ven-Long from Palmerston North and Catherine Fink from Christchurch, along with Otago Polytechnic Principal Lecturer Merrolee Penman, have been chosen by a panel of judges as the three finalists in line for the award.
The judges, made up of representatives from the New Zealand Association of Occupational Therapists and Pearson Clinical Assessment, were impressed by the diversity of the applications and how they reflected the broad areas of practice in which occupational therapists can play a role in helping people.
Glenda plans to use the Always Learning grant to attend advanced training and meet with expert Occupational Therapists who are working with people with a dual diagnosis, (where mental health illness, substance use disorders and /or brain injury collide and are seen as primary conditions).
“I would like to inspire other New Zealand Occupational Therapists to up-skill in the area of working with people who present with multiple and complex behaviours and needs,” she says.
Catherine, whose interest in promoting physical and mental wellness both at work and in the community was heightened by the Canterbury earthquakes and the effect they have had on people’s health, hopes to use the grant to help further the role of the Occupational Therapist in the area of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Having previously worked in a World Federation of Occupational Therapy (WFOT) Project to support the development of Chinese Occupational Therapy Educators knowledge of Occupational Therapy, Merrolee would like to use the prize winnings to join the first study tour to China organised by Otago Polytechnic.
“With this tour I would be able to meet some of the Occupational Therapy Educators I first met in the WFOT Project in 2011 to gain an understanding of their learning needs, and consider ways in which Otago Polytechnic may be able to assist these Educators to engage in the study opportunities we offer,” says Merrolee.
“There were a lot of interesting project ideas,” explains Pearson General Manager Anne Madden. “But one of the factors that helped distinguish the top three was that each finalist’s project aimed to develop an area of work that is not well established in the NZ occupational therapy community.”
Each finalist will now go through a rigorous interview process whereby judges will each rank the finalists then compare and discuss their rankings in order to decide on the overall winner and grant recipient.
The winner will be announced on Thursday 26 April and will be publicly acknowledged at the New Zealand Association of Occupational Therapists bi-annual conference in Hamilton in September. The prize is a $5,000 grant to support further study in the winner’s chosen area of interest.
Pearson Always Learning Award entrants were required to complete an application form outlining their existing experience in the area of practice related to the professional development activity, explaining how undertaking activity would impact on their clinical practice, improve the health and well-being of New Zealanders and benefit the wider Occupational Therapist community.
This is a new award offered by Pearson Clinical Assessment to recognise the great work of Occupational Therapists in New Zealand.
Pearson Clinical Assessment is a division of Pearson PLC – the world’s leading publisher and producer of materials that help educate millions of people worldwide.