For Pediatric Oncologist, It’s All About the Kids

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For the sixth year, our Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders is ranked in the U.S. News and World Report Best Children’s Hospitals Survey.

In honor of the most recent ranking, we are highlighting Patrick Leavey, M.D., Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Pediatric Oncologist.

Dr. Leavey has worked at Children’s for 15 years. He is the Associate Medical Director for Clinical Affairs of the Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders and the fellowship training director at the Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at UT Southwestern Medical Center Dallas.

Patrick Leavey, M.D., a physician at Children's Medical Center

Patrick Leavey, M.D.

After graduating from the Royal College of Surgeons in his native Ireland in 1986, and working in Ireland as a junior doctor, Dr. Leavey spent two years at Princess Margaret Hospital in Perth, Western Australia, as a pediatric registrar. He then moved to the U.S. for his pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship at The Children’s Hospital Colorado and the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.

During his post-graduate internship, Dr. Leavey discovered his passion for pediatric oncology, and what was meant to be a three-month rotation turned into a lifework.

“I enjoyed it so much that I went to the person that was to alternate with me – I was to do three months of general pediatrics, she was to do three months of oncology for the second half – and I said to her, ‘I really don’t want to leave this, can I just stay here?’ And that was really it,” recalls Dr. Leavey. “I immersed myself in clinical research and immersed myself in taking care of patients and published two papers from the six-month experience. There was no going back from there.”

Caring for Young Cancer Patients

Dr. Leavey remembers being a “Jack-of-all-trades in those days,” as he learned every aspect of caring for young cancer patients.

U.S. News & World Report
Cancer
2013-2014
Nurse-Patient Ratio
Center for Pediatric Urology at Children's RecognizedRanked “superior” for the ratio of full-time RNs to average daily number of inpatients.
Bone Marrow Transplant Services
Center for Pediatric Urology at Children's RecognizedRanked “superior” for availability of BMT services such as transplanting cells from unrelated donor.
Advanced Technologies
Center for Pediatric Urology at Children's RecognizedRanked in “all” including PET or PET/CT scanner, intraoperative MRI, 3-Tesla MRI, image-guided radiation therapy and intensity-modulated radiation therapy.
Specialized Clinics and Programs
Center for Pediatric Urology at Children's RecognizedRanked in “all” including programs for brain tumors, bone and soft tissue sarcomas, leukemia/lymphoma and limb-sparing surgery.
Commitment to Quality Improvement
Center for Pediatric Urology at Children's RecognizedRanked “superior” for participation in activities such as data collection and analysis to improve quality of care.
Adoption of Health Information Technology
Center for Pediatric Urology at Children's RecognizedRanked “superior” for use of electronic medical records and computerized physician order entry to improve patient safety and care.
Availability of Subspecialists
Center for Pediatric Urology at Children's RecognizedRanked “superior” for availability of full-time pediatric oncologists and hematologists.

“I administered chemotherapy. I took care of patients. I volunteered to go in every weekend to make up the chemotherapy because I wanted to make sure it was done correctly,” he says.

That attention to detail still holds true today in the care Dr. Leavey shows to his patients, the fellows he trains and doctors and nurses he works with at the Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, a group he says “has become a family.”

“This is the kind of place where physicians will stand in the hall and give each other a hug if they’re having a bad day,” he adds. “This is the kind of place where when decisions are made, I’ll sit with nurses for an hour to explain why I’m making those decisions.”

Keeping Standards High

Ask Dr. Leavey about his greatest accomplishment and he won’t list the awards and accolades he’s achieved over the years, though there are many – Best Pediatric Specialist in Dallas, D Magazine, 2011, 2010 and 2002; Faculty Teaching Award, 2009; and leading national research studies.

Without hesitation, Leavey says, “the kids I’ve taken care of” are his greatest accomplishment, and he lists the people he works with as one of his biggest points of pride about working at Children’s.

And why are accolades like our ranking in U.S News & World Report important? Dr. Leavey says that recognition on a national level not only raises our profile, but also reminds us to keep our standards high.

“It’s all toward a goal,” Dr. Leavey says. “The goal is to establish programs of absolute excellence where world-class care is standard of care, where research drives clinical decisions and where the motivation is alive.”

And after 15 years at Children’s, how does Dr. Leavey keep that motivation alive and thriving? Again, it all comes back to his focal point – the kids.

“It’s a pretty humbling career, and that keeps me motivated too,” Dr. Leavey says, quietly. “Who gets to walk into a room with a sick child and be welcomed?  Where does that privilege come from? It’s humbling to be allowed to explain things to people – to be a witness. There’s no agenda.”

“It’s all about the kids.”

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One Response to For Pediatric Oncologist, It’s All About the Kids

  1. Juliette Leavey September 20, 2013 at 8:12 am #

    Dad, you’re amazing! This is so fantastic, love you!

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