Passionate paramedic makes a career switch with postgrad study

24 January 2023

After working in the emergency and healthcare industry for over 20 years' Cathryn Jackson was excited to learn she could consolidate her professional and management experience with CQUniversity's range of graduate certificate options.

The passionate paramedic recently completed CQU's Graduate Certificate in Emergency and Health Services Management' before continuing into a second Graduate Certificate in Emergency and Disaster Management.

"These courses provide contemporary knowledge in a rapidly developing field of study and a great opportunity to broaden my skill set'" Cathryn said.

"To be able to discuss' plan and implement strategy from the course directly into my current role keeps me focused and provides direction for future planning' self-improvement' and engagement opportunities I had not considered before.

"By engaging in research projects and continuing with my academic journey' I will be able to reach my goal of working with humanitarian organisations to support improvements in health and disaster management literacy' in vulnerable communities"

With aspirations to transition her career into teaching and academia' Cathryn said the postgraduate study options would provide a pathway to her desired master's degree.

"Although my practical experience and informal learning across many years have provided excellent exposure on a front-line level' I was looking for a way to increase my academic capacity.

"Academic advancement is the key to me consolidating' collaborating' and growing confidence in my leadership abilities. Academic writing takes practice' and I feel I am slowly starting to grow in this space'" she said.

"Additionally' I have found that my completed units correspond with many other courses and will provide credit towards my future master's qualification.

"It has been an excellent choice to get back into studying coursework. I can complete my studies in bite-sized pieces and feel rewarded for my achievements as I go."

Cathryn said the Graduate Certificate options had proven to be an ideal fit for her busy life' helping her balance full time-employment' raise a young family' and complete her study goals without becoming overwhelmed.

"I had a few challenges' like everyone' during the onset and throughout the COVID-19 shutdown period' but the unit coordinators and CQUniversity were incredibly supportive'" Cathryn explained.

"Their support allowed me to complete some of the units and extend some assessment dates when I was quite ill."

As a Cairns-based student' Cathryn appreciated that the online study mode allowed her to complete her studies at home while collaborating with a variety of emergency response professionals across Australia.

"I dreaded the group assignment work; however' it provided a key opportunity to collaborate with other professionals enrolled in the courses.

"I worked with interstate managers and supervisors from various emergency' disaster management' and health management organisations as well as other industries that I had not been exposed to before."

Cathryn advocated for other professionals working in emergency response settings to consider upskilling and advancing their careers through postgraduate study.

"While at face value' the course work is aimed at the emergency services' health management' and disaster management industry' the individual units are relevant across many business and community organisations'" Cathryn explained.

"Anyone involved in planning or training for business continuity and support-service provision within the community would benefit from one or both courses. I found the public health' business management' and human resource-focused units complemented the disaster management unit well."

With a range of CQUniversity's short courses currently available for Commonwealth supported places through Australian Government's Job Ready Graduates funding package' eligible students are able to benefit from fee savings of up to 60 per cent.

"One of the benefits of completing the graduate certificates before my master's degree was the reduced cost of the units. Thanks to the government scheme' some students are eligible to pay a reduced student contribution fee.

"Being able to complete these units at a reduced cost helped to lessen the financial impact.

"In the long term' it will lower the cost of my master's qualification' helping make the juggle between family and personal development a little easier."