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Why Give | Impact stories

Donors join together for innovation in emergency care

Dr. Walls and Dr. Jim Christenson share a vision to further develop emergency medicine in B.C.

A former head of UBC’s Division of Emergency Medicine and Vancouver General Hospital’s Department of Emergency Medicine, Dr. Walls keeps deep roots in British Columbia. He and Dr. Jim Christenson, Professor and Head of the Department of Emergency Medicine, share a vision to further develop emergency medicine in B.C.

“Emergency physicians have the broadest view of the health care system. We look after patients from the community who are experiencing anything from deterioration of a chronic illness to a sudden event like a heart attack or an injury from an accident or mass-casualty incident. We save lives in the first hour, but also look after every kind of disease and organ system,” says Dr. Christenson, who notes half of all hospital admissions come through B.C. emergency departments. “We need strong leadership in planning the future of emergency care and health care more broadly.”

Together, Dr. Christenson and Dr. Walls established the UBC-Brigham and Women’s Hospital Fellowship in Emergency Medicine to create opportunities for B.C. physicians to expand their leadership abilities and innovative thinking. The fellows continue working in leadership roles in B.C. and periodically travel to Boston for experience at the high-performing emergency department at Brigham, official leadership training at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and participation in a network of emergency leaders from around the world.

So far, five donors have contributed a total of $96,561 to create a fellowship fund in the UBC Faculty of Medicine, making it possible for the first B.C. emergency physician to participate in a two-year fellowship from 2017 to 2019. Additional support is needed to offer the fellowship again in future years.

The first fellow, Dr. Chad A. Kim Sing was the Department Head and Medical Director of Emergency Medicine for Vancouver General Hospital and UBC Hospital and is now Associate Vice-President of Medicine, Quality and Safety for Vancouver Coastal Health.

“Physician leadership is vastly different than the clinical decision-making and technical skills we learn in medical school and residency,” says Dr. Kim Sing. “But leadership is equally important, especially for the changes in health care we must see to remain innovative and sustainable.”

Since witnessing the entrepreneurial mindset in Boston and talented staff at Brigham, Dr. Kim Sing is working to improve the integration of technologies into emergency care and to develop a leadership program for emergency medical staff across Vancouver Coastal Health.

“I believe the opportunity to pursue education and training in leadership will allow continued, immense benefits and system improvement over time,” says Dr. Kim Sing. “I remain so thankful for this opportunity and the philanthropists that supported the fellowship and myself.”