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Penny’s Journey

Why did you became a psychologist?

I had no idea of what I wanted to do after finishing high school so I enrolled in a Bachelor of International Business and a Bachelor of Science. It took me one semester to decide that Business was not for me and that I wanted to major in Psychology. I found learning about human behaviour fascinating and wanted to understand more about why people do what they do.

I studied my undergraduate degree at the University of Otago in New Zealand and completed my Doctor of Psychology at the University of Queensland. My first ever placement was in a hospital multidisciplinary pain clinic. This sparked my interest in the overlap between the physical and psychological and 13 years later I am still working in the field of persistent pain. I currently work out of a country GP clinic. I feel privileged to do what I do and enjoy helping people to recognise some of the deeper issues that contribute to their experience of pain.

What motivated you to choose the program?

At the end of 2020, our family relocated from Brisbane to the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland. An exciting opportunity came up to work on a Queensland Health project that was aimed at delivering quality pain management interventions to people in rural and regional areas. I was able to witness first-hand the disparity in access to services between the city and the country. When I heard about the Local Pain Educator Program, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to continue upskilling local practitioners to provide much needed services for people in pain who would otherwise have to travel long distances or miss out altogether.

What/why are you excited to learn in the program?

A lot has changed in the past 15 years and I’m looking forward to updating my knowledge and discovering new ways of explaining key concepts to patients. I love the idea of being part of a network of practitioners who share a similar passion.

How do you feel the program will help your community?

I hope that by upskilling local health professionals in the treatment of persistent pain, those in the country will be able to access similar treatments to their city counterparts without having to travel. This will have a positive flow on effect for the whole community.

Is there anything else you would like to include?

If you haven’t visited the picturesque Atherton Tablelands, then put it on your bucket list. It is 1.5hrs southwest of Cairns and 700m above sea level. It is known for its fertile soils, fresh produce and comparably cooler climate. It is a beautiful natural environment that includes ancient rainforests, volcanic lakes, waterfalls, and wildlife. Come and visit!

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