Personnel Image

Written By

Tianna Killoran

College

College of Healthcare Sciences

Publish Date

11 August 2022

Placed on a path to occupational therapy

After deciding to study Occupational Therapy, JCU Alumni Dominique Di Marzio says that her placements set her up for success in her career. Now two years since graduating, Dominique says that she loves working as a paediatrics OT in the small town of Bowen and bringing smiles to the children and families that she helps.

Dominique says it was her placements during her years of study that really cemented her skills and the direction for her career as an occupational therapist.

“I did my first placement at the Ayr Hospital, which was a really good introduction to what Occupational Therapists (OTs) do in a hospital setting,” she says. “I feel like I truly became an OT in this placement because I could start to see everything that I had learned in the classroom come to life and I was able to use those skills practically.”

But it was Dominique’s subsequent placements that set her on the course to specialising as a paediatric OT, an area for children’s care. “It was through my second placement in Townsville at PaediaTricKs that I really decided paediatrics and working with kids was the area I wanted to specialise in,” she says. “I had so much fun on this placement and got to see really meaningful progress in the kids and families I was working with.”

Dominique says her final-year placement solidified a lot of her skills. “I was placed in Mount Isa at North and West Remote Health where I worked with a mixture of children and adult clients throughout that region,” she says.

“Doing outreach work on that placement gave me a whole other skillset around efficiency and time management. When we would travel to other locations such as Cloncurry or Camooweal, there was only so much you could fit in the car. I had to make sure every resource we brought was functional, efficient, and supported by clinical reasoning because the office was a few hours back down the road.”

“My placements throughout my studies really confirmed that OT was the right choice for me,” Dominique says.

JCU Alumni and Occupational Therapist Dominique Di Marzio smiles while sitting on a swing holding a small stuffed animal.
Two people jumping on small trampolines smiling and with their arms in the air surrounded by occupational therapy resources.
Left: Occupational therapist and JCU Alumni Dominique Di Marzio. Right: Dominique with another team member at OT4You in Bowen. Supplied by Dominique Di Marzio.

Small towns and sunny support

While finishing up her studies, Dominique applied for a job in Bowen and was excited to work in a rural or regional area. “I grew up in the small town of Ayr and loved being part of a smaller community. So, after studying in Townsville I knew I wanted to end up somewhere similar,” she says.

“I love swimming and spending time at the beach, so it made sense for me to look for jobs around Bowen,” Dominique says. “A supervisor from a previous placement told me a little about Bowen and set me up with a contact there. So, I went for a chat during my fourth year and left with a job!”

Now in her second year working in Bowen at OT4You, Dominique says she loves working in paediatrics as part of a team of allied health professionals who provide care to those in rural areas.

“I work within a multidisciplinary team of allied health professionals and we have multiple locations throughout Queensland; I work from Bowen, but we also have clinics in Moranbah and Clermont,” Dominique says. “Our team has a mix of occupational therapists, speech therapists and dietitians. I really love being able to learn what the other professionals do and we often have time to collaborate.”

“We’re often working together and have liaison meetings so we can provide the best support to our clients. Sometimes we have joint sessions with clients,” she says. “Most of the clients come to visit us, but we also do outreach to places like Collinsville. It’s great to be involved in the community there and get to see the clients.”

“My boss, Kristy, has done a really great job with the business. She makes sure we are well resourced and able to provide the highest quality service to people in rural communities throughout our region.”

“The community and parents are always so appreciative and grateful for my work as an OT and the other allied health professionals I work with. It’s a reality for many people living in rural areas that they often have to travel hours just to access health services and it means kids are often missing school. As an occupational therapist in this area, your service means they don’t have to do that.”

JCU Alumni Dominique Di Marzio

A group of eight team members at the OT4You clinic sitting and standing together and smiling while holding a purple shirt up to a small stuffed animal.
A young child balances on coloured buckets while holding the hand of a JCU occupational therapist wearing a light blue shirt and black pants.
Left: The team at OT4You with Dominique at front left. Supplied by Dominique Di Marzio. Right: Occupational therapy at JCU gives you the placements and experience to specialise in an area of expertise such as paediatrics. Supplied by JCU Marketing.

The beaches are better in Bowen

Dominique says that working as an OT in a small community like Bowen comes with many rewards. “Bowen is really beautiful with its beaches and there’s nothing quite like the sunrises and sunsets here,” she says. “There’s always something fun to do, whether it is swimming and snorkelling on the weekends, going up the Mother Beddock Walking Track or doing musical bingo down at the pub one night of the week.”

Finding friends in a small town is also really important. “My best piece of advice for anyone going to work in a small town is to just put yourself out there because it really does pay off,” Dominique says. “I did that and now have a wonderful group of friends; we have all been a massive support to each other. They are a mix of health professionals, teachers and other people all around my age,” she says.

Connecting with the broader community is also one of the highlights of working in Bowen for Dominique. “Working in a small community, it is lovely to be really connected to the people and families you are helping. You get to see the kids who are your clients succeeding and enjoying life; you know that you helped them get there,” she says.

“For some kids, you might hear about the things they’re up to, like going to the show, starting to play a team sport or developing their social skills. You know what it took for them to get to that point. It’s really rewarding and heart-warming to hear about their achievements,” Dominique says.

“My favourite part about being an occupational therapist is getting to see the growth and progress of the children you work with. You get to see them smile when they do something that they’d previously thought they’d never do,” Dominique says. “Occupational therapy is a career that gives me variety, the chance to be creative and I’m never bored because you’re always learning.”

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