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Karen - Speech Therapist, Wellington

Hi everyone, my name is Karen, I am a Speech Therapist.  I came to NZ in April from the UK and the process to come to NZ took me approximately 3 months.

The easiest part of the process was getting a visa and a job.  The most challenging part of the process was tying up everything at home in 8 weeks and leaving everyone I know and love.

My first impressions of NZ were all the buildings are very square. And the sea is very blue.  

The best parts of NZ are the people are friendly, it's so easy to make friends, amazing landscapes and lots of culture and festivals going on in Wellington. I've met a great bunch of new friends through biking and been out exploring lots with them, and there are SO MANY festivals, events etc that are going on here.

What I miss the most is definitely the people from home and proper cups of tea.

My advice if you are planning to come to NZ is it feels a very long way from home, bring a few really cosy warm jumpers for winter time.

Anything else you would like to say?  I found it so easy to make friends here but settling in was difficult because of all the things and people I missed from home. Wellington is a great city for new people because there are always things happening and lots of people who want to get involved. Be prepared for some hard days as well as the good ones though!

Questions about your new workplace:

Are there any major differences between your current role in NZ and your previous roles in the UK?
The team is a lot smaller than my previous team yet the patients are just as diverse - which means that the whole team has to be a specialist in more areas - so the work is more varied as we see a wider range of patients. It's really great experience and is helping me brush up on skills I didn't get much experience in back home.

Also, the systems in the hospital where I work are much better in some ways (access to patient info) but can be quite frustrating in other ways - referrals are still paper and must be taken by hand to the other side of the hospital, lots of administration systems are still paper based which feels very slow compared to electronic systems I have been used to in the UK.

Are there any similarities that have helped you?
The patients are still much the same and many of the resources used are the same, but also there are new ones and it's great to become familiar with those.

Is there anything specifically done differently in NZ that has interested you and the way you practice your profession?
Supervision is done very differently - it is much more structured here than what I am used to with therapists traveling to other hospitals and teams for supervision whereas in my previous role it was done with someone I work very closely with. It's good because it enables you to talk a bit more freely if any difficulties do arise, but does take a lot more time away from clinical work.

There is a lot of multiculturalism here which is one of the things I love, and in our hospital there is a Maori Health service which is specifically to support families of Maori patients who are in hospital. The Maori Health unit support families with translation, big decisions, complex discharges and helps to inform hospital and community staff of any particular needs or wishes of the family. It's a really good way to make sure all the cultural needs of the patient are met and a service that I've never experienced before.

NZ PHOTOS:
1st photo is of me, US Speech Therapist Rachael (you can read her case study as well) and a group of friends at Tukino ski field.
2nd photo is of a group of us biking Redrocks in Wellington - there are people on the hill if you look closely at the middle of the picture - (we're having snacks)
3rd photo is of me and my friend Rosie at sunrise at Tukino Ski Field.