Changemaker physio student puts heart into innovative health care

15 February 2022

CQUniversity Physiotherapy student Laura Rutherford started her degree determined to help people' and her passion for health care is already being recognised.

The determined 23-year-old recently received a NextGen Medics Scholarship' supporting her to experience rural health care with leaders in innovative delivery.

The Marmor student travelled through Emerald' Roma' Dalby and Theodore with Heart of Australia' a Queensland-based initiative taking frontline specialist medical services to Australians whose lives are threatened by distance from health care.

"I had an amazing time on my NextGen Medics Scholarship Program with Heart of Australia' and a very busy time placing 12 lead ECGs (electrocardiograms) and taking manual blood pressures for cardiologists'" Laura said.

"I also got to listen to some interesting heart murmurs and watch echocardiograms being done and interpreted' and I also spent a whole day with a private practice physiotherapist in Theodore."

Laura was one of just six students chosen nationally for the opportunity and completed three blocks of four-day training with Heart of Australia's life-saving Heart Trucks.

"It's been so exciting to learn through the program' and to witness some incredible social innovation in action. Not only that' these are towns I have family in' have spent time in and know people who have spent their whole lives there. Seeing the planning and logistical challenges involved has been incredibly insightful' and it's shown me a whole new side to these places I thought I knew'" she said.

The third-year student is no stranger to social innovation' taking on a leadership role as a CQUniversity Change Champ ambassador in 2021.

As part of the role' Laura helped design new ways of connecting CQU students with initiatives to transform their communities.

A volunteer firefighter and emergency services responder in her Central Queensland community' Laura is also the founder of The Rural Conversation' a social media platform to advocate for rural and remote Australian businesses' education' telecommunications and health care.

Last year' she also became CQU's Allied Health representative with Towards Rural and Outback Health Professionals in Queensland (TROHPIQ)' and a Youth Advocate with the Queensland Family and Child Commission.

Outside of her studies' Laura is also a passionate pole fitness instructor' and completed a Certificate III in Fitness with CQUniversity in 2020' as well as doing her Sports Trainer course and doing some strapping and injury management work with the local semi-professional football team for the upcoming season.

CQU Head of Course for Physiotherapy Sean Ledger said' "Laura shows a real passion and enthusiasm for the impact of healthcare on regional populations and her learning opportunities through the scholarship has highlighted the importance that these initiative have on regionally based young people who are studying in the area of allied health."