Cathie Poliness graduated from the University of Melbourne 1989. She trained in general surgery at St Vincent's Hospital, including a period of research in Barrett’s Oesophagus and was awarded a Bachelor of Medical Science. She graduated as a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in the year 2000. Subsequently she undertook a Fellowship in Breast and Surgical Oncology at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in 2000.
In 2001 she worked as the Clinical Breast Fellow in the Edinburgh Breast Unit .She returned to Australia in 2002 to teach undergraduates at St Vincent's Clinical School and commenced work at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre specialising in breast surgery. Her particular interest is working with families at increased risk of developing breast cancer.
In 2014/2015 she was attached to The Royal Marsden Hospital as a clinical observer.