After graduating as a nurse in the ACT and working in various clinical positions in Australia and internationally, Karen worked in community health in urban and remote settings in the NT where she has lived for thirty years. This includes forensic nursing at Berrimah, as a midwifery educator, and as a child and maternal health nurse.
Karen commenced working for the Centre for Remote Health, based in the Blue Building of CDU, in 2003 and was part of the PHCRED NT program. She worked on a number of evaluations for community-based organisations and co-hosted, with Fay Johnston, a health promotion segment on community radio.
In 2010, Karen joined the teaching team delivering the Responding to Child Abuse and Neglect (RCAN) workshop to primary health care practitioners in several locations across the Northern Territory. In 2012, Karen, and Kylie Stothers presented findings from the ongoing evaluation of this workshop at the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN) conference in Istanbul, Turkey.
For many years Karen has been the topic coordinator for Remote and Indigenous Primary Health Care (a core the first and only post graduate course specialising in Remote Health Practice in Australia) and has also delivered PHC workshops in the NT, QLD and WA. Karen has continued to develop and refine topics in the Remote Health Practice program and has mentored remote health professionals to move into academia. Her dedication and passion to support health practitioners to develop skills, confidence and understanding of working in the remote context has been acknowledged and appreciated by the many nursing, medical and allied health professionals who have completed the Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma of Remote Health Practice, and the Master Remote Indigenous Health.
Karen has been on the panel for the NT Administrator’s Primary Health Care Medals for three years, actively participating in the development and refinement of the judging criteria.
In 2016, Karen added further teaching positions, working with the NT Medical Program. These included the co-ordination of the Advanced Studies program (the compulsory research topic) and facilitating the topic Health, Professions and Society (HPS), themes which include Ethics, Law, Aboriginal studies and in particular Public Health. The Public Health topic was developed with Dr Robert Hall, and all students were inspired to make public health fundamental and applicable to their practice (borne out by the events of 2020). “Meet a local researcher” was a local initiative developed by Karen. These informal lunchtime meetings allowed students to meet young researchers, to hear about the different pathways into research and to hear about research being done locally. Students were also invited to participate in a number of “nursing skills” workshops (NTDT/priming etc). It served to emphasise the need for health professionals to work as part of teams and the value of intradisciplinary working and learning especially relevant for practice in remote and rural Australia.
“I feel very privileged to have worked across the Centre of Remote Health and the NTMP for so many years. I have been lucky to have had both “online” and “real” students, beginners to very experienced remote area health professionals. Topics have all been practical and relevant across a number of contexts. However, most of all, I have had the pleasure of working with many inspired, dedicated and caring colleagues. Not the best time for travel, but time to set sail!”