#139 IWD Member profile: Dr Catherine Crock AM

Dr Catherine Crock AM with daughter Michelle and grandson Deakin

6 March 2020

We are celebrating the achievements of AMA Victoria’s female members to mark International Women’s Day on Sunday 8 March. This year’s theme is #EachforEqual:

An equal world is an enabled world. Individually, we're all responsible for our own thoughts and actions - all day, every day. We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women's achievements. Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender equal world.

AMA Victoria strongly supports a gender equal world and medical profession. In our International Women’s Day profile series, we’re introducing you to some of our dedicated current and future medical leaders.


Introducing: Dr Catherine Crock AM

What is your current role in medicine?

I work part-time in paediatric haematology and neurology doing bone marrow and lumbar puncture procedures for children with cancer or spinal muscular atrophy. 

My other role is Chair of the Hush Foundation - www.hush.org.au - which is transforming healthcare culture through the arts. Hush works with composers and musicians in healthcare environments to produce new Australian music to reduce stress and anxiety for patients and staff. Hush collaborates with playwright Alan Hopgood AM and actors to produce plays we perform in hospitals to start discussion on issues such as staff culture and wellbeing, patient-centred care and patient safety. Hush is spearheading a movement the Gathering of Kindness - www.gatheringofkindness.org - to promote a kind health system for everyone. 

I am also a Professor at Deakin University, Faculty of Health, Centre for Social and Early Emotional Development.

Why did you choose to study medicine?

My dad and his identical twin were doctors and my mother is a doctor. From a young age I was curious about how the human body works and felt a need to know and understand more. The medical conversations around the dinner table and the interesting guests my parents invited always fascinated me. I would go on Saturday morning ward rounds with dad and loved watching his interactions with patients, their families and his colleagues. 

What is the best part about your work?

I work in a brilliant, kind team of health professionals who are supportive, are able to be vulnerable with each other, share challenges and successes and have a shared goal of being patient-centred. This team is the ideal environment for teaching and learning. I love teaching junior doctors technical skills of lumbar puncture and bone marrows, mixed in with discussion about a safe and supportive work culture as demonstrated by our team.

What is the hardest part about your work?

Witnessing poor communication and unkind behaviour amongst colleagues. I find it distressing to see people treat each other with disrespect. They seem unaware of the impact of their behaviour on the quality and safety of the care for patients and the harm they do to their team.

If you were Health Minister for a day, what changes would you make to the health system?

I would expand what we measure. Currently we assess our performance based on throughput, efficiency and financial data. We need to add new measures that assess communication, excellent staff and patient experience, safety and wellbeing.

Do you have any advice for others pursuing a career in medicine?

It’s a wonderful, rewarding and special career. Find work that brings you joy and satisfaction. Build a team with people who bring out the best in you. Share your ups and downs with people you can trust.

What do you enjoy doing away from medicine?

I enjoy time with my five children, husband and family above everything. I love farm work, rogaining, swimming, growing vegetables, bushwalking, music, dancing and mosaic art.

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