Dr Karin Fisher

Brief Profile

Having qualified as a nurse over 25 years ago, I have worked in various areas of public hospitals and community health services. My clinical expertise in relation to access to health services for sexual health issues led me to undertake my PhD studies.

The focus of this work was to understand why syphilis is still present in a rural area of New South Wales as well as to explore how an individual’s construction of rurality shapes the way in which he or she accesses health services for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). This work showed the significance of rurality as a marker for affecting health and shaping different experiences, especially the changes in the meanings associated with STIs.

Following the completion of my PhD I moved from my clinical position in public health to undertake part time work with the University of Newcastle Rural Department of Health. Since my appointment to the University of Newcastle, I have been involved in a number of research projects. Dr Fisher utilises a range of qualitative research methodologies such as grounded theory, philosophical hermeneutics, realist reviews, and mixed methods to explore a range of health related, population and equity health issues. She has published 22 journal articles, 4 book chapters, and has received grants worth $176K.


Research Interests

Qualitative research exploring the following areas:

  • Population health
  • Public health
  • Health services access
  • Workforce
  • Interprofessional
  • Nursing


Why did you get into research?

Working in the hospital system as a registered nurse in a rural community I was constantly distressed about the preventable conditions that people in rural communities were admitted with and the difficulties that they expressed in gaining access to healthcare locally.

Then I discovered research. I found it was the best way for me to be able to talk to people about their experiences and perceptions to discover ways that work for rural communities.


What would be the ultimate goal for your research?

If I could wave a magic wand, everyone in a rural community would have their own personal medical and health team available to for consultation within 24 hours.

As that is unlikely to happen, I will settle for engaging in conversations with rural people to explore what works and what we can do more of.


Future Focus

We all need to access healthcare at some point in our lives. By exploring how rurality shapes our experiences, perceptions and conversations we can understand what works and what we need to more of.

Specialised/Technical Skills

  • Use of a range qualitative methodologies such as grounded theory, philosophical hermeneutics, realist reviews,
  • Interpretive reviews of the literature
  • PhD, Masters and Honours supervision