WSLHD Allied Health Leader of the Year, Caroline Cusack, on her career of education and empowerment

Western Sydney Local Health District’s (WSLHD) Caroline Cusack currently serves as the Acting Head of the Dietetics Department at Blacktown and Mount Druitt hospitals (BMDH) and was recently recognised as ‘Allied Health Leader of the Year’ at the WSLHD 2023 Allied Health Excellence Awards.

With a career focused on community wellbeing, Caroline shared her journey and passion for Allied Health with The Pulse.

She started her career with WSLHD in 2011, working at BMDH as a Clinical Educator in collaboration with the University of Newcastle.

Over the years, Caroline moved across a number of settings in the district, from generalist to senior positions – and remains just as passionate about her work as when she first started.

“I grew up down the South Coast of NSW with my favourite foods being fruit (any kind) and sweets from the corner shop,” Caroline said.

“I’d frequently stop at the corner shop on the way to school, the beach or the bus stop. I was so obsessed with sweets that when I was six years old, I bought 500 eucalyptus lollies from a $5 note that I ‘borrowed’ from my mum. It was my dream to own a sweet shop when I was older.

“During high school, I started to take a keen interest in health as my mum was a Registered Nurse, and Dietetics peaked my interest – my lifelong dream of owning sweets shops faded away.

“During my first job I had the opportunity to work with health professionals and was inspired by a Dietitian to seriously consider the profession. I’m now 18 years into my career as a Dietitian.”

This focus on education and empowerment echoes through Caroline’s work within the district, and she highlights her team’s dedication to community and patient health as one of the things she finds most rewarding about her role.

“I’m constantly proud of our Dietitian Assistants and Dietitians across BMDH,” she said.

“They treat people as they would like to be treated and provide 110% all of the time. This applies to all of the Allied Health team across all caseloads.

“I am very grateful to be working with such driven, enthusiastic and collaborative people.”

Caroline’s leadership was recognised at the recent WSLHD 2023 Allied Health Excellence Awards where Acting Director Allied Health, Luke Taylor, spoke of Caroline’s outstanding leadership.

Caroline strives to ensure that the Dietetics team continues to flourish in clinical excellence and leadership. She has developed a collaborative network of Dietitians across the district in which knowledge and skills are shared, which enhances patient care and shows genuine care for her staff’s wellbeing. She also actively encourages staff involvement in research.

Acting Director Allied Health, Luke Taylor