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The silver lining of COVID-19 redeployment for an Oral Health Therapist

Published:20 May 2020

Liza's role in health has pivoted due to the pandemic.

Healthcare professionals with diverse skill sets have banded together in the fight against COVID-19, utilising staff redeployment to support critical service areas.

CQUniversity alumnus Liza Pretorius is one of these professionals who has made the transition after restrictions impacted on her duties as an Oral Health Therapist and she has embraced the experience as an unprecedented learning opportunity.

Originally appointed as a Loggist for the Health Emergency Operations Centre (HEOC) in Rockhampton, Liza was asked by the Central Queensland Hospital and Health Services Chief Operating Officer to join the Recovery Cell to assist the A/ Executive Director of Allied Health Workforce Development.

“I source and develop evidence-based documentation. This information is used to guide decisions on how the Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service should transition into the "new normal" post-COVID-19 landscape.”

With community and staff support through the pandemic of highest priority, her research for the Recovery Cell will be used to inform future policies and procedures.

“Due to the fluidity of the situation, requirements for evidence-based literature addressing the most pressing issue at a specific time changes continuously. I have collaborated on almost a dozen research pieces and written over 30,000 words spanning 80 pages on a vast number of topics.”

From justifying the order in which health services are reintroduced to health impacts from service reductions and psychological first aid, Liza explained how these new research areas increased her knowledge base along with her resilience working in unfamiliar fields.

“This is extremely different from my day to day in Oral health. I would usually be undertaking dental examinations, radiographs, treatment planning or providing restorative and preventive treatments for patients; however, my experience as a PhD student has been invaluable in my new role.

“Postgraduate study provided me with the ability to critically appraise a vast amount of literature – preparing grant applications, research proposals and draft papers for publication. I am accustomed to having my work scrutinised and questioned. I understand it is not a reflection on me as a person or the quality of my work, it is merely because there are still some gaps that need to be addressed and the ability for me to improve.”

She suggested that COVID-19 can be an opportunity to refresh your thinking and reinvent yourself amid uncertainty.

“Nobody knows exactly how long this situation is going to persist, but now that I am on the executive committee's radar it provides opportunities for future projects.

“Sometimes we need a little push to show us what we really are capable of. I hope we will all emerge from this with a bit more flexibility to adapt, more willing to assist in new areas, and less rigidity in our way of thinking so we can all work towards the greater good and a better future.”