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Dr. Robin S. McLeod, FRCSC: 2017 Recipient of the Royal College’s Duncan Graham Award for Outstanding Contribution to Medical Education

Robin McLeoud

“Dr. McLeod has had a major impact in Canada and beyond”

Dr. Robin S. McLeod, FRCSC

General and colorectal surgeon

2017 recipient of the Royal College’s Duncan Graham Award for Outstanding Contribution to Medical Education

  • Professor of surgery at the University of Toronto
  • Vice Chair, Quality and Best Practice, Department of Surgery, University of Toronto
  • Vice President, Clinical Programs and Quality Initiatives, Cancer Care Ontario
  • Staff surgeon at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto

Dr. McLeod has become a role model for being one of the first Canadian surgeon scientists trained in the field of clinical epidemiology and biostatistics. She holds the distinction of having been the first female president of the Canadian Association of General Surgeons.

A champion of evidence-based surgery

Not many doctors can say they have transformed the culture of their discipline. As far as we are concerned, Dr. Robin S. McLeod can, and that is why she is 2017 recipient of our Duncan Graham Award for Outstanding Contribution to Medical Education. Her particular combination of clinical work, research, mentorship and teaching has changed the culture of surgical practice to become evidence-based.

When your student becomes your teacher – the ultimate reward

“Dr. Robin McLeod, principled, unassuming, unpretentious and uncompromising, my student became my teacher — and the teacher of countless others,”said Dr. G. William N. Fitzgerald, FRCSC, who first met Dr. McLeod during his senior residency year when she was an intern at the Toronto General Hospital.

Thanks to Dr. McLeod, generations of surgery residents and practicing surgeons now have the tools to incorporate new knowledge from clinical research into practice. Two innovations really stand out over the course of her career due to the enormous impact they have made.

Group Photo

Dr. McLeod (front and centre) and her surgical colleagues at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Ont.

Novel journal club that bridges learning into practice

Motivated by a concern that surgeons in training acquire the critical appraisal skills essential to providing evidence-based care, Dr. McLeod initiated “Evidence-Based Reviews in Surgery” (EBRS). What began as a paper-based journal club has quickly evolved into something much more impactful. Today, EBRS is an online journal club accredited and sponsored by the Canadian Association of General Surgeons. During the academic year, residents and practicing surgeons in general and colorectal surgery are presented a clinical article and asked to critique its methodology and clinical relevance in an online discussion forum with experts. Currently 1,000 surgeons formally participate and countless others observe on the website. The efficacy of the program has also been upheld in two randomized trials.

Dr. McLeod and colleagues

Dr. McLeod (fourth from left) stands beside Deb Matthews (then Ontario’s Minister of Health and Long-term Care) and colleagues from the “enhanced recovery after surgery” group after receiving a grant from the Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario.

Innovative best-practice program standardizes surgical care

Dr. McLeod’s other great innovation has been to standardize evidence-based care through her “Best Practice in General Surgery” initiative. She was motivated by a desire to ensure that surgical patient care in teaching hospitals is standardized and based on best evidence. She led the development of several management guidelines on surgical topics, such as prevention of surgical site infections, management of intra-abdominal infection and enhanced recovery after surgery. She engaged hospital leaders to champion the concept and implement the guidelines in their respective institutions. One of these guidelines — enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) — has undergone an interdisciplinary trial in 15 teaching hospitals in Ontario. They reported good compliance, high patient satisfaction and improved post-operative recovery with a reduction in length of stay.

“I have been very lucky to have had wonderful teachers and mentors throughout my career, such as Bernie Langer and the late David Sackett and his colleagues at McMaster, who instilled in me the belief that care should be based on best evidence,” said Dr. McLeod. “I also want to acknowledge the many residents and research fellows that I have worked with, and how much I have gained from all of them.”

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Melissa Nisbett
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