CQU's training has helped Kalie find many paths into Public Health

03 March 2022

Kalie Green's dedication to public health came via a series of study pathways and she's very glad that CQUniversity is still with her every step of her career.

The CQU alumnus said her first instinct after completing high school was to study psychology' but she was soon attracted to nursing.

"The nursing students seemed to be really liking their course' so I spent six months working in retail and enrolled into the Bachelor of Nursing the following year'" she said.

"I spent two years studying nursing and I absolutely loved the practical side of nursing' but not so much the theory. While I was studying nursing' new subjects were being introduced like Health Informatics' and then a new course started which was the Bachelor of Health (Health Promotion and Health Education).

"I had placements as a community nurse and in surgical wards and one of the roles I loved the most was health education as patients were discharged from hospital and how they would manage their conditions at home' as well as helping them to manage at home and support their families and connect them with services in the community.

"It seemed a no brainer at the time to change degrees again and move into a Bachelor of Health. As it turns out Health Promotion is a combination of those careers that I was considering – psychology (behaviour change)' nursing (health) and teaching. I am still in contact with' and collaborate with' some of those original cohort of Health Promotion students. We completed a lot of volunteer placements' which over time became job prospects."

Kalie has worked for more than three years in the Public Health Unit of the Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service (CQHHS) as Senior Project Officer for Smoking Cessation' but her career has also seen her work in areas including Young Women's Support Services' Hepatitis C Peer Education and BreastScreen.

"My CQU studies and volunteer work in Health Promotion have complimented all these roles – especially in building community capacity in chronic disease prevention and cancer screening in regional' rural and remote areas'" she said.

"I work with an amazing multidisciplinary team including epidemiologists' nurses' public health physicians' environmental health officers' and PhD students and I have a natural curiosity about their work' their research and gaps I can see between services' which are often overlooked by clinicians.

"In 2020 I wanted to build my research skills and I applied for and received a Destination Australia Scholarship to study a Graduate Certificate in Research' which I completed around working full-time and four children. I absolutely loved studying' and in 2021 completed a Graduate Certificate in Public Health with Distinction and received an invitation to join Golden Key International."

She said engaging with community stakeholders and learning from them and understanding their projects and goals' and knowing that she is making a positive difference to people's health was the driving force behind her work.

"I liken my role to a jigsaw puzzle and putting all the pieces together. Sometimes it is connecting people with similar personal or organisational goals' and other times it is taking a step back and thinking 'Why do we have that gap? What do we have in our community that can address it? What do we need to build it? What's holding people back from accessing it?

"In my smoking cessation program' I get a real buzz when I receive the Quitline reports on Central Queensland referrals and registrations' and knowing those numbers are individuals who have made an enormous step to address their smoking' and possibly that's more children growing up in a smoke free home – something I didn't have as a child.

"(CQU's training has) really given me a solid background to work in public health' and how the social determinants of health influence our risk of disease and wellbeing' and what change I can motivate at a local level. Writing academically has also helped in keeping up with my colleagues and understanding their research work as well.

"No two days are the same in public health. Look around you - public health is everywhere. Safe water' food safety' vaccinations' tobacco laws' bats' mosquitos' communicable diseases' increasing physical activity' chronic disease prevention' disease surveillance data' health promoting environments' community development. What's not exciting about all of that?"