Happy to be wearing a mortar board again
AFTER fitting thousands of University of Otago graduates with their pregraduation mortar boards, Rebecca Harding will wear one herself today when she graduates from the university.
Miss Harding, an assistant research fellow at the Otago department of women’s and children’s health, fitted all those mortar boards as a Federation of Graduate Women Otago branch volunteer over the past three years.
When she began, her fellow volunteers were strangers but, over the years, they became more like family members.
‘‘It’s nice to have the family back together.’’
And it was particularly meaningful when fellow volunteers helped to fit her for her own mortar board and regalia on Thursday evening.
The prospect of graduating again herself, with a PhD, was becoming real, and she felt ‘‘pure elation’’ about it.
She already has a BSc in psychology from Otago.
Had all that previous fitting work helped her own preparations?
‘‘I think it’s a little easier in a way because I know what it should feel like [wearing the mortar board and regalia]’’.
For some people less familiar with the process, some of the technicalities could make preparing for the big day ‘‘quite a bewildering experience’’.
Sometimes, she only saw a graduand for about 30 seconds, as their mortar board was being fitted, ‘‘but I feel as though I’ve been part of their journey’’.
For three hours yesterday, she continued fitting other graduands with their mortar boards, as usual.
When asked about her PhD, Miss Harding said diet, exercise and sleep were traditionally considered ‘‘the three pillars of health’’, but less research attention had been given to sleep than to the other ‘‘pillars’’.
Her PhD research had offered a ‘‘regional and a nationwide perspective’’ on the relationship between ‘‘sleep disordered breathing and academic performance’’ in New Zealand children.
‘‘A littleknown factor that may influence children’s learning is disturbed sleep, resulting from snoring or blocked airways during sleep, termed sleep disordered breathing (SDB),’’ she said.
A key message from her research was that when children presented with learning problems, screening and possible treatment for SDB should be considered.
THE latest graduating University of Otago medical students will this morning recite for the first time an updated oath which includes an undertaking they will attend to their own health as well as that of their patients.
Otago University has its own oath, which draws on several sources, including the Hippocratic Oath, which is recited at a ceremony on the morning of graduation.
The latest Otago oath for graduating MBChB students incorporates several updates, including an undertaking they will attend to their own health as well as that of the patient.
This selfprotective provision was adopted into the Declaration of Geneva—the modern version of the Hippocratic Oath— by the World Medical Association last year.
This provision has been promoted by former Otago medical student Dr Sam Hazledine in response to concerns about widespread burnout in the medical profession.
Last year Dr Hazledine, of Queenstown, successfully petitioned for a change to the Declaration of Geneva.
The petition was signed by more than 4500 Australasian doctors, and he said a large US study showed 87% of doctors were stressed or suffering from burnout.
There was a consultation process over the updating of the Otago oath, and students will recite it for the first time today.
On board . . . Rebecca Harding (27) is looking forward to wearing her own mortar board as she prepares to graduate from the University of Otago.