Articles and Case Studies

A Member Profile: Dr Catherine Engelke

03 Jun 2014

Nerissa Ferrie

by Ms Nerissa Ferrie

Stethoscope heart

The life of a doctor can be incredibly rewarding, but also very isolating if you don’t master the art of staying connected. Dr Catherine Engelke employs this concept in every facet of her life including family, work and culture.
DrEngelke2jpg

Growing up among the Kija people, Catherine’s early primary school education, although idyllic, was far from mainstream. Catherine recalls being called “dumb” for not meeting the standard testing criteria applied to her age group, and this false belief stayed with her for many years.

Recognising the importance of a good education, Catherine’s parents sent their children to a boarding school in Perth. At age 11, Catherine was separated from her “big, close family” in Halls Creek. “I understood why I was there, but I remember feeling homesick and just wanting to go home,” she recalls.

Catherine excelled academically and obtained her Nursing Degree, followed by a Graduate Degree in Community Health and Development and a Post Graduate Diploma in Clinical Midwifery. After working in Perth and the Kimberley, Catherine took up a three-month contract developing the WA Aboriginal Health Plan. It was here that she met Dr David Atkinson, the man she credits with reigniting her desire to study medicine.

The suggestion forced Catherine to confront her long-held belief that she wasn’t smart enough to be a doctor. She had always wanted to study medicine, and the encouragement she received from Dr Atkinson was enough to prompt her to raise the prospect with her husband, Jim, who was incredibly supportive of her dream.

Already a mother to two small children, it was a big decision to relocate the family to Perth – but with the support of her family and the School of Indigenous Studies, Catherine graduated from UWA in 2008.

Catherine was grateful for the peace and quiet of Shenton House and the opportunity to spend time with the other Indigenous mature age students who were also dealing with the guilt of leaving young children at home and not being able to contribute financially to the family budget.

She candidly acknowledges, “If I had realised how hard it was going to be, I may not have done it.” Catherine is clearly proud to be a role model for her children. “How could I tell them to follow their dreams if I didn’t follow mine?” she said.

It wasn’t long before the Engelke family returned to their cultural and spiritual home. With her focus now firmly on providing excellent medical care in the remote Kimberly region, Catherine was surprised and delighted to be invited by the RACGP to attend the GP12 on the Gold Coast as the GP Registrar of the Year for 2012.

The recognition Catherine has received from her peers and the College has made the sacrifice and hard work worthwhile.

 
Employment Essentials, General Practice
 

Library

My Career Journey with Dr Nick Coatsworth

Dr Nick Coatsworth is an expert in health policy, public administration and a practising infectious diseases physician. He held a national role in the Australian response to COVID-19 as Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Australia, becoming one of the most recognised medical spokespeople during the pandemic. Nick engaged the Australian community through a variety of media platforms most notably as the spearhead of the national COVID-19 vaccination campaign. Dr Micheal Gannon, Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, sits down with Dr Nick Coatsworth to discuss Nick's medical career journey, and what insights and advice he has for junior doctors. MDA National would like to acknowledge the contributions of MDA National staff, Members, friends and colleagues in the production of the podcast and note that this work is copyright. Apart from any use permitted under applicable copyright law, you may not reproduce the content of this podcast without the permission of MDA National. This podcast contains generic information only, is intended to stimulate thought and discussion, and doesn’t account for requirements of any particular individual. The content may contain opinions which are not necessarily those of MDA National. We recommend that you always contact your indemnity provider when you require specific advice in relation to your insurance policy or medico-legal matters. MDA National Members need to contact us for specific medico-legal advice on freecall 1800 011 255 or email advice@mdanational.com.au. We may also refer you to other professional services.

Podcasts

09 Jun 2022

Career complications and contending with uncertainty

Among the many challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic for junior doctors is how to respond to medical training impacts and career uncertainty. In this podcast, Dr Caroline Elton (a psychologist who specialises in helping doctors)and Dr Benjamin Veness (a Psychiatry registrar) share advice for coping with medical training and career delays, disruptions and unknowns.

Podcasts

10 Aug 2020