Kate Patten

Kate Patten

Research Student

Dual Master of Public Health / Master of Health Management (MPH/MHM)

Mode of study: Online, Part-time

Country: Australia

Previous Education: Bachelor in Pubic Health

With a Bachelor’s degree in Public Health, Kate Patten has been working in public health research for the past 4 years. She is involved in various projects focusing on injury prevention and the social determinants of health. A research assistant at the School, Kate is pursuing a dual Master’s degree in Public Health/Health Management to increase her skills and knowledge in the evolving world of public health and health leadership. For the last 9 months, Kate has been working with NSW Health, supporting the state’s COVID response efforts.

When did your secondment to NSW Health begin and what is your role?

In early March 2020 I received a phone call from my UNSW Manager asking if I was interested in helping the NSW COVID-19 response. I immediately jumped at the opportunity to be part of the wider NSW Health response and within two days, was on the phone making calls to contacts in NSW who had been exposed to COVID-19 as part of the Close Contact Tracing Team. It was a fast paced and ever-changing environment the first few weeks – but I loved every second of it.  
The collaboration, commitment and efforts I have witnessed over the past months has been nothing short of amazing. The NSW COVID-19 Response has been an all of Government approach - and I could not be any prouder to be playing a small part in it. It has truly been an absolute whirlwind of a year, but coming into work each and everyday at NSW MOH has been one of the most rewarding, and at times, challenging things I have done – and I’m so grateful for the opportunity and everything I have learnt this year. 

Can you describe your work with NSW Health in COVID response in detail?

As cliché’ as it sounds – every day is truly different when working on the COVID-19 Response. My role has changed over the past months but as a guide, I originally started as a Project Officer in Close Contact Tracing where I was involved in building the systems and training the teams that are now integral for the smooth operation of the Close Contact Tracing Team.
I am now the Data Reporting Lead for the Close Contact Tracing Team where I work closely with the Data Quality Manager to ensure all the contact data that is received into the Close Contact Tracing Team is actioned appropriately.  I also provide public health advice and support to all members and teams in the Close Contact Tracing Team as we work together to navigate the different challenges faced while working on the COVID-19 response.

What draws you to population health and what are your future aspirations/goals?

I love working in population health and find large scale population health programs, policies and strategies really interesting. My goals over the next years is to continue to build my education and absorb as much information and experience as I possibly can and hopefully end up working in project management/health policy/strategy one day.  But that could change, I'm very flexible and open to new ideas!

What do you do when you are out of the office?

In non-COVID times, I have always enjoyed going to the gym where I stick my headphones in and listen to music for a good hour before starting my actual day. But these past months, I have been going on more and more early morning walks instead before heading into the office.  
It has been a huge year, so on my days off I go on a bit of a 'COVID detox'. Instead I tend to do a bit of study for my Master’s degree, catch up with friends or just watch Netflix and laze around to be honest… I also enjoy cooking!