One of the biggest highlights of my experience with the University of Tasmania so far is being able to study my Polar Health units while sitting on the aft deck of a coast guard icebreaker at 70.7368° N, 117.7704° W in the Canadian Arctic.
Laura’s passion for an exciting challenge is no secret. Her goal which has been to improve her skills while working and studying in some of the world’s most extreme environments is a testament to this. It’s no wonder then, when Laura discovered the Remote and Polar stream in the University of Tasmania’s, Master of Public Health – she enrolled.
In addition to studying a program which provides an exciting “edge”, Laura also required a high level of diversity in the course and unit structure.
“In 2014, I was the Health Officer for an expedition in the Canadian Arctic which included among its duties, underwater archaeology. Following this experience and in order to be successful and reach my goals in this field I required a program that provided a wide variety of study areas, from medical
evacuation theory to creating emergency plans for remote sites, to understanding the unique needs of workers in remote areas.”
“This course has allowed me to deepen my understanding of complex systems and factors influencing health in remote environments while also providing me with the appropriate language and knowledge to advocate for change. I would also like to continue my work with expeditions, and this program I feel
is giving me the grounding I need to do so.”
Mixing study with work and attempting to balance all the competing interests in life can be challenging however Laura has successfully achieved this.
“I am currently working full-time however this does not impede my studies. I find that because my studies are so applicable to the work I am doing, it feeds, informs and enhances my work. So while studying and working can be a tough balance at times, the quality of my outcomes has improved.”
The University of Tasmania’s online learning environment has provided Laura with both a stimulating and supportive engagement platform. “I love the discussions that take place around the assignments – I find peer learning, the feedback and discussion with the tutors deepens my understanding of the content.”
Eager to see the outcomes of her efforts, Laura has been putting her field of study to work in remote environments. “I realised that providing health care in some of the most remote areas of the world was a passion of mine. So I am currently working on structuring support services for providing healthcare
in remote regions of British Columbia.”
But it’s not all work and study – with Laura’s spare time also involving exciting activities, alternating between fly fishing, white water rafting, skiing (to name a few) and even a creative outlet in embroidery where she chooses the best quotes from the hit TV show, The Walking Dead and recreates them
on throw pillows. These hobbies and activities reinforce Laura’s perspective on the word “Health” and what she believes it really means.
“Health is not simply the absence of disease: it is a state in which a person is able to function to their fullest potential mentally, physically and spiritually. My favourite quote on health is by John Muir, an author and naturalist born in 1838: ‘Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to
play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul’.”