OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST: Hayley Cuzins returned to Dalby after getting an education in Brisbane.
OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST: Hayley Cuzins returned to Dalby after getting an education in Brisbane. Ebony Graveur

Coming home with a new skill

FOR many young graduates, moving to the country is a rite of passage from university to career.

But, for 22-year-old Hayley Cuzens, living in Dalby was nothing she hadn't done before so, when the newly-graduated occupational therapist was offered a position at Dalby Allied Health, she took it in a heartbeat.

"I grew up and went to school in Dalby and then went to the University of Queensland in Brisbane,” she said.

She said working in a rural area provided an opportunity to learn things she'd otherwise miss if she continued to work in the city.

After six months working in aged care in Brisbane, she made the move back to where she'd grown up.

"I think by working in a rural area you get a broad range of experience. Every person who comes through the door needs help in a different way.

"I think it's because rural areas don't have specialist healthcare. Everyone comes to the one place because there's only a couple of options available,” she said.

Ms Cuzens, who's worked at Dalby Allied Health for about six months, describes her job as challenging but rewarding.

"Being in a rural area is the first challenge. Because I'm a new grad and I've just started off in my career, and because my caseload has such a variety, I feel like I have to know all about different types of disabilities and disorders and know how to treat them in the best way possible.”

She said she didn't have any qualms in going rural after city living and that moving to Brisbane in the first place was more of a commitment than moving to her job in the country.

"The move from Dalby to Brisbane was scary at the start.”

While moving back to Dalby made sense to Ms Cuzens for more than one reason, she said she missed her friends from uni.

"It's taken a little time to adjust, to be honest. But I still have some friends I went to school with in Dalby and I go to Brisbane to catch up with uni friends. Brisbane's not too far to drive to.”

Ms Cuzens said having her family around her made the move less daunting.

She said she always knew she wanted to pursue a career in health.

"I found I was interested in OT because it seemed very unique to me but to be honest I didn't know much about it.

"What they really reiterated at uni was that we look at the person holistically. Not just looking at their injury but looking at other factors like their lifestyle or environmental factors.”

Ms Cuzens said she loved the job and that she had support not only from her family in Dalby but also the staff.

"Everyone's really friendly and supportive,” she said.

"Liz Forbes, the other OT, has been an amazing mentor to me.

"She's really knowledgeable and always happy to help me as is my boss.”

While she's happy with her current role, she said she wanted to specialise in the future.

"In a rural community, the role is very broad; you see lots of different clients. But I think in the future I'd like to focus on one area,” she said.

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