Rural Clinical School

Appointment of Dr Judi Parson as Research Doctoral Fellow

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The UTAS Rural Clinical School has welcomed the appointment of Dr Judi Parson as Post Doctoral Research Fellow.

With an objective of supporting health ageing in the community and effective integration of acute care access when and where required, Dr Judi Parson has commenced the new Research Fellowship based at the UTAS Rural Clinical School in Burnie.

A generous family donation of $250,000 has enabled the Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation (RHHRF) to fund the appointment for two years, with the third year funded by the UTAS School of Nursing and Midwifery.

Dr Parson said a vital first step of her fellowship will be to profile the current level of community care available for older North West residents.  "It will be importabt to identify the therapies currently available and to map access to other specialist services and clinics", she said.

Armed with that understanding, Dr Parson will drive a tailored research program which will have both an inter-professional and rural focus, responding to areas of need.

With the family's donation providing $30,000 for "seed funding" of these emerging projects, Dr Parson noted an anticipation that high calibre clinicians would be attracted to research these issues that impact upon ageing and acute care.  "These research team members will ad equally to our health service delivery through adoption of improved practices", she said.

RHHRF CEO, Heather Francis, said the appointment is aimed at building research experience and practice delivery, with a particular focus on the local North-West community.

She said that investment in this form of research provides several benefits for the area.  "Dr Parson's appointment as Research Fellow provides a focus on the needs of the region, with the research outcomes to provide valuable evidence around which to build upon existing models of care across the community - locally, nationally and internationally."

"The creation of this new role will drive what is known as a practice development research program, adding to a network of similar investifations occurring statewide.  While Dr Parson's support is aimed to deliver better health outcomes across Tasmania over the longer term, her appointment as a Research Fellow in this region also allows her to work with others in building research momentum and capacity," she said.

Dr Parson has enjoyed a clinically diverse nursing career through which she has practiced in various specialty fields including paediatrics, aged care, and radiology.  After extensive national and international experience, Dr Parson returned to her native home in order to complete her PhD while residing in Smithton in 2004.  Dr Parson's research interests include the psychological health of older Tasmanians and she is particularly eager to investigate the types of and access to therapeutic services currently available for older individuals in the North West region of Tasmania.

Her doctoral thesis was titled.  The results of her thesis titled "Integration of procedural play for children undergoing cystic fibrosis treatment:  A nursing perspective" led Judi to investigate further play therapy techniques that would be appropriate for nurses to use in rural and regional hospitals when hospital play specialists are unavailable.  She undertook a Master of Arts - Play Therapy course in London, UK to become a fully qualified play therapist and is actively involved in developing play therapy in Australia.

Dr Parson believes the humanistic person-centred approach found in play therapy is particularly relevant to the way that ageing populations are cared for.

She would like to see community and residential aged care facilities focus on promoting person-centred connections to their community and sense of place in order to reduce feelings of loneliness that some older people experience.  She sees practice development programs that incorporate animal assisted therapies, gardening activities, music, play, humour, art and children as important tools to achieve the desired outcomes.

Published on: 23 Jul 2012