Professor Nicola Spurrier PSM
Recipient of Distinguished Alumni Award 2022, a dual qualified medical specialist, public health physician and paediatrician, Professor Nicola Spurrier PSM is a staunch advocate for prevention and promoting health across the whole of community, using an equity lens. She has served the South Australian community as a medical professional for more than three decades.
Graduating with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery from the University of Adelaide in 1990, Nicola also completed her PhD at the University in 1999 under the supervision of Professor Michael Sawyer.
"I really am passionate about learning. I’m one of these lifelong learners, and I’m always looking for something new I can take up, some new skill," she said.
As South Australia’s Chief Public Health Officer, Nicola was instrumental in the state’s coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Central to her ethos is the view that prevention is better than a cure, and through her work she strives to ensure all South Australians have an equal chance of positive health outcomes.
“I think of the population as my patient, and all of the individuals in it," she said. "People like me, public health physicians, we want to make sure everybody has an equal chance of having the same health outcomes."
I’m always looking for something new I can take up, some new skill.Professor Nicola Spurrier
"We know that there are social and economic determinants to health, so the wealthier you are the healthier you are, and that’s not fair."
"Through policy or health promotion or vaccination, at that whole population level you can prevent people getting sick."
Nicola has been recognised extensively for her significant contributions to safeguarding and protecting the health of the South Australian community. In 2021, she was awarded a Public Service Medal for outstanding service to community health. In the same year, she also received the Office of the Commissioner for Public Sector Employment (OCPSE) Leader of the Year Award at the Women of the Year Awards; and was nominated for South Australian of the Year.
For the Chief Public Health Officer, career success isn’t measured in accolades, but rather in improving health outcomes in her home state. "For me, success is about the population and their health, whether that’s an actual health outcome or whether that’s one of those health determinants that we’ve been able to make a change in."