Exploring Occupational Therapy Beyond the City: Ella's Journey in Hervey Bay

24 March 2024

Ella Micalizzi, an Occupational Therapist with a passion for adventure, found herself embarking on a unique professional journey after completing her degree.

Ella Micalizzi, an Occupational Therapist with a passion for adventure, found herself embarking on a unique professional journey after completing her degree.

Enticed by the prospect of a six-month placement in Hervey Bay, Queensland, Ella seized the opportunity to explore a different side of healthcare at St Stephen's Hospital.

The Wesley Hospital, where Ella initially sought employment, offered its Occupational Therapists a chance to broaden their horizons through rotations at another UnitingCare Hospital.

For Ella, this meant immersing herself in the regional healthcare setting of Hervey Bay, a decision she describes as one of the best experiences of her career.

"One of the things that drew me to this role was the opportunity to work in a different hospital environment," Ella explains. "Being able to spend six months in Hervey Bay was like a holiday away from home."

Her time in Hervey Bay was not just professionally enriching; it was a personal adventure as well. The hospital provided accommodation overlooking the waterfront, affording Ella the luxury of morning runs along the beach.

Beyond work, Ella found herself embraced by the tight-knit community, finding a local church to attend, going to gym classes and forging friendships that endure to this day.

"Working in a smaller hospital meant tighter teamwork and a greater sense of camaraderie with the Allied Health Team," Ella reflects. "We would share lunches, engage in team-building activities, and explore the beauty of Hervey Bay together."

Professional growth in Hervey Bay came in unexpected ways. With a patient demographic of older people and fewer resources compared to urban settings, Ella found herself challenged to think creatively and problem-solve effectively.

"The experience broadened my perspective on patient care," Ella remarks. "Navigating the unique challenges of a regional healthcare setting honed my skills as an Occupational Therapist."

Moreover, Ella's stint in Hervey Bay fostered a deeper understanding of patient needs, particularly those transferred to The Wesley Hospital from regional areas. Armed with firsthand knowledge of the community's resources and dynamics, Ella developed a rapport with these patients that transcended clinical boundaries.

"Having walked in their shoes, so to speak, I can better tailor my approach to meet their needs," Ella asserts. "It's about bridging the gap between healthcare settings and ensuring continuity of care."

Beyond the professional realm, Ella's time in Hervey Bay was filled with memorable experiences—trivia nights, horseback riding excursions, and even a thrilling seaplane ride over Kgari (Fraser Island). These moments of leisure underscored the laid-back atmosphere and vibrant community spirit that define life in regional Queensland.

"Aside from the invaluable professional growth, Hervey Bay offered a lifestyle unlike any other," Ella enthuses. "It's a testament to the enriching opportunities awaiting healthcare professionals beyond the city limits."

Ella's journey serves as an inspiring testament to the rewards of stepping outside one's comfort zone and embracing new experiences. For aspiring Allied Health professionals, her story is a reminder of the vast possibilities that await beyond familiar horizons—a testament to the transformative power of exploration and dedication to patient care.


UnitingCare is currently accepting expressions of interest for Occupational Therapy roles across our network of hospitals in Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and Hervey Bay, if you would like to apply please contact Stacey.Johnson@uchealth.com.au for more information or you can stay up to date on current vacancies through our website Job opportunities | UnitingCare (unitingcareqld.com.au).

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