Top 20 Under 40: an exceptional trio from St. Joseph’s makes the list

The best young professionals in our community were celebrated this month as London’s top “20 Under 40”, and 15 per cent of them are part of the St. Joseph’s family.

They comprise an exceptional three between 33 and 39: Dr. Heather MacKenzie, a physician in the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, David Ross, Director of Finance and Health Information Management, and Lisa Walters, family lawyer and board member of the St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation.

They were recognized for exceeding the expectations of their roles, improving lives and creating opportunities for others to shine as well.

Headshots of the three St. Joseph's top 20 under 40 winners.
Dr. Heather MacKenzie, David Ross, and Lisa Walters.

More than 200 individuals nominated

The business magazine London Inc selected the 20 winners from more than 200 individuals nominated. The recipients were profiled in a special print and digital edition of the magazine, and celebrated at an awards gala in their honour. David Ross didn’t attend the gala, though his absence was for a reason as remarkable as the excellence that earned him the recognition in the first place.

In November, David jointly led a group of 19 young executive health care leaders from across the globe at the World Hospital Congress in Muscat, Oman. He helped present the findings of his group’s 6-month project examining the role of artificial intelligence, electronic health records, and tele-health technologies in health care delivery. David says collaborations like these are supporting health care leaders as they “leverage technology to help make the best decisions with patients at the centre.”

David has been connected to St. Joseph’s for most of his professional life, starting when he was a chartered professional accountant with KPMG doing an external audit of St. Joseph’s. Eventually, the opportunities and challenges that St. Joseph’s offered were too enticing to pass up, and he became the Director of Finance. His areas of accountability have grown ever since, from financial strategy to clinical documentation and data management.

Improving the care and safety of patients

David points to the health care record system “OneChart” as an example of how data can improve the care and safety of patients. “As OneChart is used more at St. Joseph’s, we’ll have more data and rich data to inform better decision making. That’s exciting for me!” he says, clearly invigorated by how his work enables clinical and support teams. “If I can go home at the end of the day knowing that I’ve made it easier for our clinical teams to deliver patient care, I’ve done my job.”

One of those clinicians is 20 Under 40 recipient Dr. Heather MacKenzie, selected for both her research and clinical work with patients who’ve suffered brain injuries. Her research is focusing on predicting outcomes after concussions and mild traumatic brain injury, and how to make early identification of the patients who will have a prolonged recovery.

“There’s so much to be encouraged about as we move forward with this,” she says. By pinpointing the factors that make some patients more likely to experience long-term effects, her research could lead to early intervention to shorten recovery times for patients like those in St. Joseph’s rehabilitation programs.

Heather has had a long relationship with St. Joseph’s, spending five years of residency training in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. They proved to be very formative years where she found inspiration for her research and professional growth through interdisciplinary team collaboration. “Those years shaped who I am today as a clinician.”

Passing on knowledge and experience

Her residency was also very valuable for the mentorship it offered. “I still look to mentors for guidance, not only in my clinical work but also in my work as a teacher and a researcher.”

Heather is now passing on her knowledge and experience to her own mentees. For those up and coming professionals, she hopes to inspire with a message that has proven valuable for her: “Don’t underestimate the potential you have to make a difference. Even if it seems small, it could make a huge difference for the people you’re collaborating with, or people in our community.”

Among those in the St. Joseph’s community is the dedicated volunteer Board of Directors of the St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation. One of those board members is 20 Under 40 recipient Lisa Walters, a partner with the Family Law Group. When Lisa was asked if she wanted to sit on the foundation board, she didn’t hesitate to say yes.

“I’ve been so happy with the care that either I or members of my family have received at St. Joseph’s,” she says. “Lawyering is my day job and that allows me to do what I really love – volunteering.”

Motivating volunteers to give time, energy

This year marks Lisa’s third year with the foundation. She cheerfully took on a role with the board that doesn’t often top the list of tasks that motivate volunteers to give their time and energy. “I’m the Chair of Governance and I love it!” Lisa admits that her enthusiasm for a role focused on processes and structure prompts some people to poke a little fun at her expense, but she’s truly excited by her part in facilitating the philanthropy that translates into specialized care and innovation at St. Joseph’s that would not otherwise be possible.

“At every meeting I learn more about what’s up and coming, and I’m always impressed with the breadth of what St. Joseph’s does. It’s such an amazing resource for London and our surrounding area,” she says. Some of her most memorable projects she’s seen get funding include the Zero Suicide Initiative, DocTalks, and the recently announced Gray Centre for Mobility and Activity at Parkwood Institute. “We’re so lucky to live in London and have all these specialties nearby.”

The commonality beyond youth and excellence in their fields among the St. Joseph’s showing on the 20 Under 40 list is enthusiasm, commitment to prioritizing the needs of patients, and an optimistic view to the future. Thanks to their contributions, the community can also look forward to more health care innovation that changes lives for the better.

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