With more than 30 years’ experience in the public and private health sectors, in clinical and administrative roles, Karen Bradley knows health.
Originally training as a registered nurse, Karen completed her graduate year at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and, after an obligatory Aussie year of backpacking and working in Europe and Africa, settled into a nursing role at St John of God Hospital (SJOG) in Subiaco.
“I had great career development opportunities during my 13 years at SJOG and was ultimately appointed Deputy Director of Clinical Services,” Karen said.
“I’ve enjoyed a very busy and full career in healthcare, both in the private and public sector with experience at an executive level with four large and complex metropolitan and regional
healthcare services, most recently with the Western Australian Department of Health.
“My strong interest in professional and leadership development led me to serve as the Vice President, WA Branch of the Australasian College of Health Service Management where I’m also a Fellow and Certified Health Care Executive. The College is committed to supporting and developing leaders in all sectors and I personally enjoy coaching, mentoring, and hosting education
and networking opportunities.”
“I’ve always been interested in healthcare; however, most of my roles have been supporting and developing frontline healthcare professionals and teams to deliver the safest and most compassionate care possible, as well as drive improvements in the quality, timeliness and access to care for our community. This is what really motivates me to do what I do!”
Karen said her career highlights include being appointed the Chief Nurse and Midwifery Officer for WA, representing the WA Health Minister at a Nursing and Midwifery Conference in Tanzania,
and her role as WA Country Health Service’s Executive Director of Nursing Midwifery.
“Working with nurses and midwives across WA and representing the State and the professions at a national level was something I was very proud to do, and I learned a great deal from
my colleagues during this time,” she said.
“Meeting with professional peers and visiting the rural and remote health services in Tanzania was a great highlight of my career.
“Also, working for the WA Country Health Service as the Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery and being part of such a dedicated leadership team who work incredibly hard to ensure regional communities have access to appropriate healthcare services and promoting better health outcomes was very rewarding.”
Despite the complexity of her past roles, it was her most recent tenure leading the Health Operations team in the State Health Incident Coordination Centre as part of the State’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic that was Karen’s most challenging.
“This role was certainly one of the most challenging of my career in terms of the intensity and the need for relentless focus on addressing risks and issues as they arose within a very ambiguous,
uncertain, complex and volatile environment,” she said.
“I worked with a senior leadership team to support the preparation of health services and healthcare professionals for COVID admissions and was also responsible for the coordination of COVID testing services across WA, ensuring timely access to testing as it was required.
“The role involved working with a wide variety of stakeholders and colleagues from the public and private healthcare sectors, pathology providers, WA Police, quarantine services and
Government. Given the stress placed on our people and the system during this time, I learned how important it was to ensure my team developed respectful and supportive relationships, and
to share as much information as possible (despite not having all the answers).
“We were often faced with solving complex problems with very short timeframes, so I was really grateful for the incredible cooperation we received from colleagues around the system to make things happen, sometimes with very creative solutions.”
Karen recently stepped away from her role at the Western Australian Department of Health.
“I’ve moved to the South West of WA with my husband and Maggie, our Labrador retriever puppy,” Karen said.
“I’ve established my own consultancy, which will be a chance for me to diversify my working life, while still contributing to health and community care services.
Karen was appointed to the Rural Health West Board in October 2019, following a change in the Constitution to broaden the organisation’s membership base and Board composition to better
reflect the multidisciplinary nature of the rural health workforce.
If you are interested in becoming a Rural Health West member, contact [email protected]