2010 Winner: Leaders of Tomorrow
Passionate Philanthropist Inspires Change in Medical Sector
When Peter Gill received one of 82 Rhodes Scholarships in 2009 he recognized how privileged he was. He thought of two things. One was how fortunate he was to have had the support and inspiration of his parents and his mentors. The other was that he must dedicate the opportunity to improving people’s lives.
“I think simple things are best and make the most difference,” says Mr. Gill, who is doing his PhD in Paediatrics and Primary Health at the University of Oxford. “I want to take what we have and make it better.”
Mr. Gill recognized a shortfall in the medical care of children and based his thesis, entitled Measuring the Quality of Care of UK General Practice, on finding a solution. His thesis focuses on developing and piloting “markers” of quality in paediatric care in routine general practice, much the same way as routine medical examinations act for adult patients in the UK.
“The most exciting thing is I can focus on thinking and asking big questions and finding answers that will lead to fundamental changes in how health care is delivered to children worldwide,” Mr. Gill says.
He sees advocacy as a critical role that he and his colleagues will play as physicians. While studying medicine at the University of Alberta, he was a member of the Canadian Federation of Medical Students Political Advocacy Committee. He spearheaded the first Alberta Political Action Day to make medical school more accessible for people from low-income backgrounds. The successful campaign directed at the provincial government resulted in increased loan ceilings for medical students from $95,000 to $150,000.
Mr. Gill is also a passionate philanthropist. He volunteered at a hospital in rural Uganda for one month, using the opportunity to bring joy to the lives of Ugandan children through sport. When he put out a call for donations of soccer equipment to fill a couple of duffel bags, he was overwhelmed with thousands of items weighing 540 kilos. He did last minute fundraising to get the unanticipated $4,000 required to ship an industrial-size crate of soccer equipment and pay import fees in land-locked Uganda.
Mr. Gill aspires to be an Alberta-based paediatrician, clinical scientist and medical doctor. He says he believes what he does here can have an impact on global medicine practices. His work locally on the website PedsCases.com is already influencing medical students worldwide. Mr. Gill recognized a gap in medical students’ education and developed innovative, interactive technology that allows medical students to fill in areas of the curriculum not covered by instructors. Students create the content, which is peer reviewed by faculty. Since its launch in 2008, PedsCases.com has had over 6,000 visitors from more than 114 countries and has received international recognition.
Still, Mr. Gill says it’s not technology that will create the most meaningful change in the future.
“We have lots of technology and published academic research. How do we make it meaningful and useful to people not directly involved?” asks Mr. Gill. “The next generation of physicians and scientists, which I am part of, will take what we already have and apply it on front lines. That’s the challenging bit.”