Naturopath Anita Pierantozzi built on her Bachelor of Health Science degree with two postgraduate qualifications that helped her enter the conventional medicine industry with ease, landing the highly coveted role of Senior Medical Education Officer at Redcliffe Hospital. Since then Anita has injected her love of complementary therapies into the training she provides junior doctors to help the next generation of medical professionals embrace a more integrative approach to healthcare.
After returning to Endeavour to work as a tutor and eventually take on a Senior Lecturer role after graduating in 2006, Anita took on the considerable task of tackling two postgraduate qualifications at once. Progressing through a Masters of Public Health (Nutrition) and a Graduate Certificate of Education concurrently at the University of Queensland may have left Anita with a jam packed schedule, but in the end her efforts proved valuable in giving the natural health professional a career advantage.
“I could never have done the job I’m sitting in now or have published the papers I did without my degree and postgraduate qualifications. I’ve learned you can use your Bachelor of Health Science degree to get wherever you want to go – I’ve seen some of my fellow graduates go on to complete medical degrees. It really can be an incredible foundational point for people who wish to go on to specialise,” said Anita.
In Anita’s current role as a Senior Medical Education Officer at Gladstone Hospital, she is charged with supporting junior doctors to provide educational assistance, orientation and induction and career guidance and support to set them up for success by ensuring they are work ready.
“I love my job as I’m really an educator at heart. It gives me the chance to have my educational hat on as well as my complementary medicine hat, which I really enjoy,” said Anita.
Anita said the experience of working in a regional hospital taught her how different regional healthcare services were to their urban counterparts.
“You read about how different the set up is but it is another thing to experience it. There are typically greater workforce shortages, and patients don’t have access to the range of services they do in the city such as orthopedic surgeons or intensive care services,” said Anita.
Being a natural health practitioner has given Anita an opportunity to infuse a greater focus on complementary therapies into the training she gives up and coming doctors.
“My background has been treated as an asset in the hospital system, particularly given there is now widespread recognition that many doctors don’t receive specific training on complementary medicines during their degree. I’ve been able to empower junior doctors by giving them greater confidence when dealing with issues around the use of complementary medicines,” said Anita.
“To ensure your voice is heard by doctors I’ve learned you need to show how your information is clinically relevant, so I make sure to provide data around the use of natural therapies, outline the implications from a legal perspective which can arise from not asking patients about their usage, and some of the common interactions between medicines prescribed to help ensure patient safety.
“I really try to get across that it is in no one’s interest for the two sides of medicine to work in silos – we need to communicate more closely,” said Anita.
Anita said she has received a warm reception from the medical profession and encouraged other practitioners to approach conventional medicine professionals with their heads held high.
“I have found there is a great appetite for more knowledge about complementary therapies. The majority of people from the medical profession are very interested in my background and have so many questions for me. I’ve found they want to learn about us as much as we want to learn about them!”
Nutritionist Samantha Gemmell’s relationship with her mother Barbara has transformed over the years, from being a source of friction to the unbreakable bond it is today. Since nursing each other through cancer, now they are confidants, friends and roommates with a shared fascination of health and wellness and bold dreams for their future.
When budding naturopath Samantha Bennett was selected as one of 20 young social change makers as an ambassador for a revolutionary approach to development called Gross National Happiness (GNH), she began a quest to show the world why happiness is no laughing matter.