Be Your Best: championing rural allied health

Thursday, March 14, 2024 allied healthbe your bestcareers
Be Your Best: championing rural allied health
Narelle Dalley’s time in the healthcare system as a teen opened her eyes to a career in allied health.

As a schoolgirl, Narelle was diagnosed with an aggressive form of muscle and bone cancer which signalled the beginning of a challenging few years of multiple treatments and major surgeries.

“During my experience in the hospital system as a patient, I decided that physios had the best job," Narelle said.

Supporting rural healthcare has always been a driving factor in Narelle’s career.

“I come from a rural farming family, and at the time when I was 16-18 years old, we had to travel to Melbourne regularly for my treatment. Mum had to leave work for a period of time to accompany and care for me, while Dad looked after the farm,” she said.

Now, her role as Allied Health Operations Manager is to support clinicians with operational issues and ideas to do the best job that they can do.

“Even though I don’t deal directly with patients anymore, the decisions I make as a manager will impact the care the patient gets – decisions are made on values of patient-centred care,” she said.

Narelle has forged a rewarding career that has taken her to the UK twice, to New Zealand and eventually back to Australia, from 12 years in the private sector to more recently in April 2022, Narelle joined Bendigo Health as Allied Health Operations Manager.

When Narelle was looking to progress her career, she saw potential advantages in the public sector.

Specifically, it was the public health response to COVID and Bendigo Health’s provision of vaccination clinics and preparing the hospital for potential COVID wards that really impressed Narelle and she applied for the Allied Health Operations Manager Role at Bendigo Health.

“The professional development opportunities here are great. The staff are really well supported. There's lots of opportunities with respect to improving patient services through grants from the Department of Health within Bendigo Health, but also beyond in the community. There’s just so many avenues that you can go down,” she said.

There are diverse career pathways available in Allied Health, from Quality and Research, to Education, Management, and Clinical speciality roles. Narelle is a testament to this having moved from being a physiotherapy-specific clinician, to an Allied Health Manager.

“I think one of the things that public health do really well, is they're always pushing the boundary to improve care for patients and looking for innovative ideas to do that.”

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