Bond University has expanded its health and medicine faculty, with the launch of a Masters of Occupational Therapy aimed at filling the shortage for one of Australia's fastest growing health professions.
The new occupational therapy program will be headed by highly experienced health administrator, practitioner and researcher, Professor Susan Brandis.
Bond University will accept its first intake of students in September 2016, with the Masters taking just two years full-time to complete, through its unique accelerated three-semesters-a-year program.
The private Gold Coast university becomes just the second university in Queensland to offer Occupational Therapy as a postgraduate qualification, with the new program to focus on practical on-the-job skills, together with business acumen and research.
Professor Brandis joins Bond University after 15 years in senior management at Queensland Health, including as the inaugural Director of Research for Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service.
During a 37-year career, she has held high profile positions including Manager of the National Falls Prevention Project for the Commonwealth and Executive Director of Allied Health at Gold Coast Health.
She has also worked in various roles in both the public and non-government sectors including Director of Occupational Therapy; Director of Allied Health, Geriatric and Rehabilitation Services; and Executive Officer Medical Aids Subsidy Scheme, and has been an adjunct lecturer at various universities in Queensland over almost two decades.
Her clinical interests include aged care, rehabilitation and palliative care, and she is involved in research projects looking at patient safety and quality, organisational culture and patient outcomes.
Professor Brandis said occupational therapy was a fast-growing area and the need for the profession would only continue to grow.
"There is increasing demand in the community for quality of care and the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme has further bolstered the need for occupational therapists," she said.
"The future is really bright for occupational therapy as a profession and there is huge potential in terms of research and how we better promote the independence of people living in the community.
"It is also a career for life. It is a profession where you can make a real difference to peoples' lives and there are so many different careers you can pursue, with the broad nature of the program ensuring opportunities to diversify into a range of management and leadership roles."
Professor Brandis said Bond University's Masters of Occupational Therapy was structured to meet both World Federation and National Occupational Therapy standards, meeting the requirements for direct registration with Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).
"The new program will include more than 1,000 clinical hours, ensuring our graduates have extensive hands-on experience upon graduation, which goes hand-in-hand with the intensive one-on-one support and mentorship they receive through Bond's small class sizes," she said.
Bond University Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine Dean, Professor Helen Chenery, said the introduction of the Masters of Occupational Therapy would add to the university's existing extensive health and medical offering.
Bond University already boasts a diverse range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses including medicine, biomedical science, physiotherapy, health science, nutrition and dietetics and a number of programs in sport and exercise science and sports management.
"The new program complements the suite of health and medical programs already on offer at Bond University and offers more opportunities for interdisciplinary education and inter-professional practice," said Professor Chenery.
"To provide occupational therapy alongside our very reputable medicine, physiotherapy, nutrition and dietetics and psychology programs, to name just a few, is of real benefit for students and provides a strong foundation for the new program.
"We welcome Professor Brandis to our expanding health and medical team and are confident her extensive and diverse experience will ensure we deliver a world-class occupational therapy program at Bond University."