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How CMU-A helped Katie transition to a career in public policy

Posted 27th November 2020

Completing a Master’s Degree in Public Policy and Management with Carnegie Mellon University Australia (CMU-A) helped Adelaide resident Katie Bourke successfully transition from a clinical physiotherapist to a high-level public policy specialist.

Ms Bourke, who completed her degree with CMU-A last year, said her decision to transition into a public policy role came about because she wanted to take ‘the next step’ in her working life.

“I had reached the point where I wanted to expand my skills and training and came to the conclusion that I would either move into the research field, or the policy and management field,” Ms Bourke said.

“I had come from a clinical background as a physiotherapist and while I had a good knowledge of what was happening at the ‘coal face’ in health services, I was passionate about how policy settings impact on-the-ground work. I wanted to be able to help set the agenda and be a part of the bigger picture. This led me down the public policy path and to enrolment with CMU-A.”

Since completing her studies with CMU-A, Ms Bourke has started a new role with SA Health as a Principal Policy Officer in Intergovernmental Relations.

Katie Bourke with CMU-A Head Emil Bolongaita during the May 2019 graduation ceremony

My studies at CMU-A were an ideal preparation for my transition from working as a practicing professional, working as a physiotherapist, to public policy specialist.

“The grounding I received in the university’s technical policy curriculum has equipped me well for moving out of the clinician setting and working with policy and strategy specialists.

Ms Bourke said studying economics through the degree had been a particular benefit, allowing her to ‘speak the language’ with other professionals across government departments, while she also gained technical thinking and strategic writing skills.

“A key part of my role is being able to solve problems on your feet. There is also a lot of high-level strategic writing. CMU-A gave me a great grounding in these areas.

“There’s a lot of inter-governmental relations, working with a wide range of stakeholders and scanning the horizon, looking at what’s coming next and how we can deal with it. It really is ‘bigger picture’, and I’m enjoying it.”

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