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Introducing CRANAplus Board Member, Ann Aitken
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.
“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.