Connected Conversations | Rutger de Zoete

Being part of setting up a brand new school and physiotherapy program during a pandemic has definitely had its challenges for Dr Rutger de Zoete! Added to this, Rutger has not been able to relocate to Adelaide and meet his new colleagues in person. Despite the unusual start to his new role, Rutger has maintained his enthusiasm and productivity over the past few months. Read all about it in our latest instalment of Connected Conversations.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Dr Rutger de Zoete and I am a lecturer and researcher within the newly established School of Allied Health Science and Practice. I joined the allied health team in March to be part of a great opportunity to develop of a new physiotherapy program (and an entirely new school) at one of Australia’s leading universities. Prior to my current role, I completed my PhD in Newcastle and a postdoctoral fellowship in Brisbane.

From next year, I will be Course Coordinator for a couple of Bachelor of Physiotherapy (Honours) courses. Although we do not have students yet, our team is working very hard to have everything ready for the first cohort. Currently we have a relatively small team and our tasks are varied–it’s a very interesting phase and it feels a little bit like a start-up! My research focuses on chronic pain, in particular I investigate how the brain is involved, and how we can best treat people with pain. My ambition is to contribute to the development of improved management strategies for people with chronic pain.


The Return to Campus Roadmap is now in place. What are you most looking forward to about being back on campus?

As I only commenced in March this year and with the state border closures in place, unfortunately I haven’t been able to move (from Brisbane) to Adelaide yet. I have been working remotely, so I’m looking forward to finally moving and being able to explore the University campus, as well as Adelaide itself. It is going to be great to finally meet my colleagues properly and continue to work together closely (whilst adhering to social distancing regulations!).


How do you set boundaries when working at home between your work life and your home life?

My work hours have probably changed a little since I do not have to travel to and from work anymore. That saves time that can be spent on work or other activities. I generally start a little earlier which gives me a couple of hours to work independently before Zoom meetings start. I haven’t found the Zoom meetings to be bothersome as it has enabled us to have focused discussions. Although there is always plenty of work to do and it feels like you can work around the clock, having a dog ensures you get out of the house a couple of times a day.


Is there anything from the past few months you would like to see implemented on a permanent basis?

Whilst inconvenient in some ways, working from home has allowed me to get stuck into work and be very productive–especially in preparing course materials and writing up research papers. Instead of always being available, perhaps taking some of this flexibility in to the future could help us in ensuring some of our ‘own time’ to work independently.


What is the one thing you are most looking forward to doing or seeing when you are back on campus?

Having the opportunity to meet my colleagues and explore the campus. I look forward to getting to know the new environment–including the students!


All things considered; what good things have you discovered or learned during this time?

It has been a challenging time for our team establishing a new school and developing three new degrees whilst working remotely. I think it is great to see how everyone can adapt to new circumstances so quickly and work as a team.


Name three things you won’t miss about this current moment in time.

I only have two! Limited social interactions and not being able to travel.


And the three things you won’t forget…

The unique way I started working in my new role.

The ability of our team to do incredible amounts of collaborative work whilst all working remotely.

We must appreciate the moments we have together, both in a professional and personal environment.

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