Health & Safety has already been described by those who know me as my passion and, truth be told, I could talk about it for hours. The ability to be a superhero and save a life as part of my job (although figuratively as opposed to literally) has always been a task that I have taken quite seriously.
The choice to complete the Graduate Diploma in Professional Practice (GDPP) was quite easy in the end. I didn’t have a formal education in health and safety despite having worked in the industry for many years. With the increased expectations for higher education from both employers and clients, I thought that it was time to review my options. The choice of a part-time Post Graduate Diploma didn’t appeal nor did the expensive intensive qualifications – I have two younger children and I needed to mindful of my own work/life/study balance.
The GDPP appealed firstly because of the time (a year in length) but perhaps mostly because I liked the concept of having to critically review myself and my own knowledge and look to address that in some way. The GDPP allowed me to identify my own room for improvement and let me use my time to constructively research an area that would have a large impact on not only my knowledge but my industry and my small business.
I identified my gap in knowledge as occupational health and decided to focus on a key area of my business with application to the agricultural sector. It took me a good seven months, after completing my initial two papers, to really get my teeth into researching the project and writing the 12,000 words. The topic was confronting for me and I had a large mix of emotion throughout the project. I recall when I started reading about the statistics of illness I was shocked by just how unwell we are making people just by the work they do, and it saddened me as I realised I know people who will eventually fall into those statistics. Later in the year, there were also a few media stories about workplace illness and rural suicides that really brought home to me that the wheels are turning too slowly in New Zealand regarding occupational health.
All in all, it has been a satisfying year of study for me. I have absolutely learnt something about myself and I have gained insight into an area where I knew was a gap in my knowledge. I can only hope that we start to see some of my recommendations come into fruition in the next 12-24 months in New Zealand. I would definitely recommend the GDPP to any NZISM practitioner who is looking to widen their knowledge and improve themselves in a time efficient manner.
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