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Introducing CRANAplus Board Member, Ann Aitken

7 Apr 2023

Dr Ann Aitken PhD was appointed to the CRANAplus Board in October 2022, alongside Danielle Causer whom we introduced in CRANA Magazine edition #127. Ann is Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Facility Manager Atherton Hospital, FNQ, and brings more than 43 years of experience and extensive credentials in remote health to CRANAplus. Here, she shares her enthusiasm about her new position and joining a diverse and experienced team.

In 1980, after try­ing a few oth­er career paths, Ann decid­ed to give nurs­ing a go. 

Her ear­ly days at the Roy­al Bris­bane train­ing hos­pi­tal were affirm­ing; at last, Ann thought, a career that made her feel as though she had gone home”. 

Yet it was quite a shift from the white­coats at the Roy­al Bris­bane to khakis of the Roy­al Cooktown. 

Our Med Super, I thought he was the gar­den­er! He looked like The Croc­o­dile Hunter,” laughs Ann, reflect­ing on a fond, but sur­pris­ing start to her remote career. 

It was quite dif­fer­ent, but again, I loved it from the moment I got there,” she says.

Left to right: Ann, Amelia (Ann’s daugh­ter) 6th year med­ical stu­dent on place­ment, and Dr Liz Hawkin, Direc­tor of Med­ical Ser­vices Ather­ton Hospital.

It is where my love for rur­al and remote liv­ing, as well as work, real­ly kicked off.” 

In 1994, Ann moved to Ather­ton, FNQ tak­ing on var­i­ous roles in and around the region. 

Now, as the Direc­tor of Nurs­ing, Mid­wifery and Facil­i­ty Man­ag­er at Ather­ton Hos­pi­tal for the past 18 years, Ann shares her antic­i­pa­tion for a new hos­pi­tal under devel­op­ment at time of writing.

We’ve been able to build a new com­mu­ni­ty health build­ing and a new three-storey clin­i­cal ser­vices build­ing, which is real­ly excit­ing,” she says. 

It’s a real­ly nice thing to be able to say that I was a part of this.

I’ve been offline a cou­ple of years doing mod­els of care and get­ting ready for us to move. 

It’s actu­al­ly rein­vig­o­rat­ed my love for clin­i­cal prac­tice. I’m think­ing that I’ll prob­a­bly go back into a clin­i­cal role at the end of this project.” 

Though for the last 21 years, Ann has kept up her clin­i­cal skills through week­end work in com­mu­ni­ty nurs­ing, where she is also able to con­tin­ue her pas­sion for sup­port­ing pal­lia­tive patients and their families. 

For me, that’s the essence of pri­ma­ry health care, hav­ing that real­ly nice con­ti­nu­ity of care with our patients, and being able to sup­port them in their own homes,” says Ann.

Con­nect­ed to CRANAplus 

Ann describes a light­bulb moment” hear­ing inci­vil­i­ty research pre­sent­ed by the Bush Sup­port Line team at a CRANAplus Con­fer­ence: an idea that went on to influ­ence her research for her Mas­ters Degree in Con­flict Man­age­ment and Resolution.

Long inter­wo­ven with CRANAplus, Ann became a CRANAplus Fel­low in 2017.

In 2016, Ann com­plet­ed a PhD with her the­sis explor­ing the lived expe­ri­ence of rur­al and remote nurs­es work­ing in Queens­land who cared for peo­ple with can­cer who had died. Ann also holds a Mas­ters Degree in Rur­al and Remote Health; is an accred­it­ed medi­a­tor; has com­plet­ed her rur­al and iso­lat­ed nurs­ing endorse­ment in 2001 (RIPRN) and is an Immu­ni­sa­tion Pro­gram Nurse.

When asked why CRANAplus?”, Ann answered that it had to do with the qual­i­ty and rel­e­vance of our edu­ca­tion and ser­vices to remote health workers.

The great thing about CRANA is that it knows its stuff, it knows its audi­ence, and it knows the sit­u­a­tions that our nurs­es find them­selves in.”

On being on the Board 

Thrilled to be appoint­ed, Ann believes it’s the diver­si­ty and breadth of tal­ent that gives the CRANAplus Board its real strength. 

Spend­ing her career in Queens­land, Ann is look­ing for­ward to col­lab­o­rat­ing with fel­low Board Mem­bers to gain a greater under­stand­ing of the needs and chal­lenges of the remote Aus­tralian health workforce.

As a Board Mem­ber I will sup­port CRANA to con­tin­ue to do that good work.”

That good work, that is so rel­e­vant in mak­ing sure that our [remote] work­force has the skills and knowl­edge, and the sup­port that it needs to be able to do its work safe­ly, and for the ben­e­fit of our patients.”

Learn more about CRANAplus’ Board Mem­bers includ­ing Danielle Causer who was also vot­ed in, Octo­ber 2022.