Dr Catherine Crock AM - MBBS
Discovering a passion for improving the healthcare experience for patients, families and staff has shaped the career of Dr Catherine Crock AM over the past two decades.
An MBBS graduate of the 1981 class, Catherine began her career working in general medicine, haematology, paediatrics and adolescent health at a number of hospitals. After a stint in the UK, she returned to Melbourne to work at the Royal Children’s Hospital in haematology. It was here, providing lumbar punctures and bone marrow tests for children with cancer, which ignited her passion for patient and family-centred care.
“When we tap into the expertise of the patients and families we look after we can learn so much about how to provide the best possible care for that individual, including how to improve the safety of their care. My student experience at Monash encouraged me to think creatively about problem solving in the workplace. Together with patients and families we have been able to make numerous changes in the way procedures and tests are performed on patients by problem solving as a team. We improved pain management, waiting times, efficiency in theatre, patient and staff satisfaction and patient safety.”
One of Catherine’s key initiatives at the Royal Children’s Hospital was improving the environment in operating theatres, treatment rooms and waiting areas through the use of specially-composed music. Founding the Hush Foundation in 2000, Catherine’s music collections are now used around the world in children’s hospitals, palliative care and aged care settings to reduce the stress of patients and their families. Most recently, the Hush Foundation launched their newest album, ‘Hush 16’, a collaboration with three notable Australian musicians – Lior, The Idea of North and Elena Kats Chernin – inspired by the stories of young cancer patients and other children.
Catherine’s passion for improving the healthcare experience also extends to staff as “it is now well recognised that poor culture in healthcare leads to unsafe care for patients, worse outcomes of that care and negative impacts on staff”. Working with renowned playwright Alan Hopgood AM, the pair produced Hear Me, a play designed to “raise issues and spark discussion about staff behaviour, bullying, patient centred care, teamwork and patient safety”. To date, the play has been performed to close to 8,000 people at conferences, medical schools and in hospitals.
Catherine’s incredible work in patient-centred care has been formally recognised with a number of significant awards including being awarded the Royal Children’s Hospital Chairman’s medal (2004), named as one of Westpac’s 100 Women of Influence (2015) and made a Member of the Order of Australia (2015) for her contributions to improving patient and family care.
“In 5 years’ time I will still be enjoying my clinical work which gives me energy keeps me grounded in what matters for patients, families and my colleagues. I will be mentoring young medical students and junior doctors particularly about respect, trust and kindness between staff and towards patients and their families.”