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A car accident left a Gold Coast mother-of-two with permanent injuries and unable to continue work as a beauty trainer, but it also steered her onto a new career path that she otherwise would never have known about.

Michelle Wirth spent months in rehabilitation after the accident and struggled with not being able to lead the active lifestyle she once had. It was this frustration that inspired her to become a Recreation Officer at Queensland Health and is now helping others on their own roads to recovery.

“I mentally struggled when I could no longer continue to play high impact sports or participate in my hobbies; I used to play volleyball weekly, go mountain biking as well as do various styles of gym workouts,” she said.

“I soon realised the positive benefits my hobbies and leisure interests brought to my life and the negative effect it was having on me not being able to engage in previous meaningful pursuits.”

The 43-year-old said she wanted to turn her personal experience into something positive by helping others enhance their own quality of life through facilitating hobbies and recreation after an injury.

After researching future employment opportunities and finding a trusted education provider that would give her the greatest chance of success, Michelle enrolled into the Certificate IV in Leisure and Health (CHC43415) at TAFE Queensland's Southport campus.

“I certainly feel studying leisure and health at TAFE Queensland is one of the most positive life steps I have ever accomplished. Now I get to live my career dreams every day by enhancing the quality of life for those who are faced with health challenges.”

In March 2020 amid a global pandemic and only five months after she started studying, Michelle gained employment as an Advanced Recreation Officer with Queensland Health working with brain injury patients.

“I work in the Rehabilitation Unit at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane providing emotional, spiritual, physical, cultural and mental support while people are rehabilitating from life-changing medical incidents,” she said.

“As a Recreation Officer I assess the physical, social, emotional and cognitive strengths and limitations of patients and then modify activities and hobbies of interest for them.”

According to her patients, Michelle does the ‘fun stuff’ and she reckons that is a wonderful thing to be known for.

“Seeing patient’s improve and then going home or moving on to more permanent accommodation is fantastic to see. Knowing I made their time in rehabilitation just that bit easier and more pleasant, is very satisfying,” she said.

To anyone thinking about a career in healthcare, Michelle said now's the perfect time to get started with TAFE Queensland.

“My studies at TAFE Queensland were instrumental in gaining my current employment; the teachers and trainers were invaluable with extensive industry experience themselves and they guided me to the best possible outcome of getting a job,” she said.

“You will learn alongside likeminded people who all come together to not only improve their lives but to improve others as well.”

 

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