ECU pediatric surgeon Dr. Danielle Walsh accepts the SAGES Education and Research Foundation’s Excellence in Medical Leadership Award during the organization’s Surgical Spring Week conference in Nashville, Tennessee. (Contributed photo)

ECU surgeon recognized for excellence in leadership

May 21, 2015

By Amy Adams Ellis
ECU News Services

An East Carolina University pediatric surgeon has been named an outstanding medical leader by the international Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons.

Dr. Danielle Walsh, associate professor of surgery at the Brody School of Medicine, was recently recognized as the 2015 recipient of the society’s Education and Research Foundation’s Excellence in Medical Leadership Award. The award was formally presented in April during the group’s Surgical Spring Week conference in Nashville, Tennessee.

Through an educational grant funded by American manufacturing company W.L. Gore & Associates, the award includes a scholarship up to $8,000 for Walsh to attend a five-day leadership program of her choosing at a nationally recognized academic institution.

“This leadership award is a very competitive one, and the fact that this international organization recognized these leadership attributes and potential in Dr. Danielle Walsh is further validation of what we here at Brody have already recognized in her,” said Dr. Elizabeth Baxley, senior associate dean for academic affairs at Brody.

According to the SAGES website, the purpose of the scholarship is to “optimize the recipient’s impact in the medical industry so they can deliver sustainable results driven by their greatest capabilities and purpose as a leader.” The scholarship aims to do so “by exposing the recipient to the leading minds in leadership development, strategy, management and execution.”

Walsh has chosen a leadership development course offered later this year by the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston. It’s specifically geared toward physicians who work in academic health centers.

Walsh compared the transformative experience of a good leader to that of an “American Idol” finalist, recounting how thousands of people with raw talent and a passion for singing audition for the iconic show, but few receive a “golden ticket” to progress in the competition.

“For those who make it into the top 20, a team of professionals comes in to help them - voice coaches, mentors, stylists,” Walsh said. “Such a transformation occurs that the winner usually has polish and perfection that weren’t evident in their original audition.

“In the same way, people are born with varying degrees of natural leadership ability…Those fortunate enough to train with experts and refine their skills have the opportunity to do so much more for the greater good. This award is my ‘golden ticket.’”

Walsh has a medical degree from the University of South Florida College of Medicine in Tampa. She completed an internship and general surgery residency at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, followed by a fellowship in fetal surgery and research at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a fellowship in pediatric surgery at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Before joining ECU in 2011, Walsh practiced in Jacksonville, Florida, holding faculty appointments at the Mayo Medical Center and University of Florida. She served as the 2013-14 president of the international Association of Women Surgeons.

Her clinical and research interests are pediatric surgical disorders including birth defects, cancer, and abdominal and thoracic surgery as well as minimally invasive surgery.

In 2013 Walsh’s interest in quality and process improvement landed her on the project team for Brody’s REACH (Redesigning Education to Accelerate Change in Healthcare) initiative, funded through a $1 million, five-year grant from the American Medical Association aimed at reshaping how future doctors are trained.

As part of that initiative, Walsh heads up the university’s Teachers of Quality Academy, wherein selected health sciences faculty spend months immersed in the newest health system competencies, pioneering better ways to prepare upcoming medical professionals for practice in the team-based, patient-centered health care delivery systems of the future.