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Kellie Leitch

Orthopedic surgeon is the federal government's advisor on healthy children and youth

As a medical student, Kellie Leitch (MD 1994) noticed what she calls “the challenges that all Canadians see in the health-care system” – long waits for patients and financial pressures for caregivers. So while doing her residency in orthopedic surgery, Leitch took time out to learn about efficiency from the business world, by taking an MBA at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

Now she’s come full circle. Last fall, Leitch, 36, helped launch a new Health Sector MBA at the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario in London. The new business degree is tailored to health-care professionals – from doctors and nurses to health administrators and pharmacists. The aim is to impart leadership and management skills to both front-line workers and industry decision-makers. “We really need leaders in the system who understand the managerial side but also the clinical side of the equation,” says Leitch.

That description could apply to Leitch herself; besides serving as co-director of the Health Sector MBA, she’s the chair of pediatric surgery at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry and chief of pediatric surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Western Ontario. She joined the hospital after a one-year fellowship at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

“It cost Canadian taxpayers almost a million dollars to train me, so the least I could do was come home and take care of Canadian kids,” she says. To that end, in March, she signed on as the federal government’s new advisor on Healthy Children and Youth; she’ll present recommendations this summer. Even with all that juggling, Leitch makes sure to maintain her own clinic hours. “I’m very fortunate – I get to fix kids who can’t play on the playground, and let them go play.”

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