Catherine Murray visited HCA’s headquarters in Sydney last week to talk about her extensive nursing, coaching career and experience with HCA. We went to Starbucks to pick up a super-charged extra-large mochaccino (as you do in Starbucks) and sat down in the new Sydney office to talk about her inspirational nursing career.
Maria: I’m so intrigued by your lengthy resume Catherine; can you tell us about how you started your nursing career and the roles you have worked in?
Catherine: Well, I started at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne as soon as I got out of high school. This enabled me to practice nursing and learn the theory. I worked as an RN post grad for 18 months in the acute respiratory unit.
From there I moved to Sydney and worked at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH) in the Haematology/Bone Marrow Transplant Unit. I completed my midwifery training at The Royal Hospital for Women but decided to branch out of nursing, completing a Bachelor of Arts at Sydney University, with a major in Philosophy and Psychology and continued to work at the RPA part-time.
After I completed my degree, I decided to move into Palliative Care. I enjoyed working at the Sacred Heart Hospice where the end of life discussions with the patient and their family were a normal part of the care. Many patients were young men with HIV/AIDS and it was both intellectually and emotionally challenging.
I continued my study with a Masters in Clinical Nursing and worked as a Palliative Care Clinical Nurse Consultant at St George Hospital. I was part of a group of committed and energetic palliative nurses that started the Palliative Care Nurses Association (NSW), which became a part of the Australian College of Nursing (ACN), special interest groups.
I took up an After Hours role at Braeside when I had my first child, as it was flexible and then later was the Nurse Unit Manager at St Joseph’s hospital, when I had my second child. I continually wanted to challenge myself, so after this role, I moved back to the acute setting as a Senior Nurse Manager for Cancer Services at Liverpool Hospital.
Currently, I’m self- employed, sharing my time between agency nursing with HCA, working privately as a leadership coach, as well as being involved in coaching organisations and hospitals to improve their processes.
Maria: Wow, what an impressive career. I heard you were involved with The Chris O’Brien Life House. How did that begin?
Catherine: I met the lovely Chris O’Brien in 2006 when I was working as the Clinical Manager at the Sydney Cancer Centre, Royal Prince Alfred. This is when we started creating the business case for a new Sydney Cancer Centre, which was to become the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse. I was part of the team that briefed the architects, designed, built, commissioned and finally operated Lifehouse. Unfortunately, Chris became sick and passed away before Lifehouse was opened in his name in November 2013. It was an amazing and fulfilling 5-and-a-half-year journey!
Maria: That must have been a proud moment. Tell us about how you heard about HCA and the initial process of finding an agency?
Catherine: Caroline from the NSW Team introduced me to HCA, so it was very easy. I had heard good things about HCA when I was working at the Chris O’Brien Life House. The NSW Team took me through all the steps to get started as an agency nurse and the process was easy. I was excited to pick up a few shifts when I wanted to, so I could focus on my family and my coaching role.
Maria: Can you tell us more about your coaching role?
Catherine: I really enjoy coaching healthcare organisations to improve their processes, patient outcomes and employee engagement. I have been doing that with Studer Group, Australasia for the past 2 years and run my own coaching business (Catherine Murray, Leadership and Engagement Strategist). For coaching enquiries, please contact Catherine on:
(M) 0431 674 137
Maria: Tell me about a career highlight?
Catherine: I am proud of the work the clinical team did on the cancer care patient journey which articulated touch points where we could best support patients before, during and after treatment.
We used the co-design process to get healthcare professionals and patients together to talk about their experience of care. The co-design structure wasn’t unique to us but worked in this setting. We assessed the patient touchpoints and the services they required. This process started conversations amongst patients, families and clinicians. When the patients are involved and happy, the staff are happy and engaged too.
Maria: What advice would you give to new grad nurses starting out?
Catherine: Just enjoy yourself and the job, there are so many opportunities, including remaining in clinical care or moving to a speciality or education, research and senior management. Nursing can be a tough job ‚ you need physical and mental resilience, but when you have the support of your team, it’s the most fantastic career. I would recommend it to everyone.
If you would like to find about nursing in NSW, register your interest here or use the contact details below:
P: 1300 422 247