Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women: Patricia Birk
Professor and Head, Department of Pediatrics & Child Health, Provincial Specialty Lead, Pediatrics, Child Health, Shared Health Manitoba, Medical Director-Pediatric Kidney Program, Transplant Manitoba.
Dr. Patricia Birk has been named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women-Professionals Category.
Dr. Birk has led transformative change at every level of her professional career. Within five years of her recruitment to the University of Manitoba as a clinician-scientist, she developed an internationally-reknowned pediatric kidney transplant biopsy program which established new standards of post-transplant care. She has been an invited state-of-the-art speaker at numerous national and international scientific conferences.
Dr. Birk’s creative and collaborative approach to problem-solving led to her promotion to numerous executive roles within the university and provincial healthcare systems in Manitoba. During a time of multiple stressors on the provincial healthcare system and increasing medical and social complexity, she revitalized the clinical teaching units at Children’s Hospital. As the Provincial Specialty Lead for Child Health, Dr Birk is now charged with improving healthcare access and delivery for all children in Manitoba, regardless of where they live.
Within the first six months of her tenure as Department Head, Dr. Birk was faced with leading Children’s Hospital through the COVID-19 pandemic. She assembled an award-winning incident command team to navigate the myriad of urgent institutional changes necessitated by infection control and pivots to virtual care. She has embedded leadership and mentorship initiatives to support faculty and trainee wellness now and beyond the pandemic. She is a vocal proponent medical accountability and disclosure to improve patient safety. In recognition of her leadership accomplishments, she was awarded the prestigious Hedwig van Ameringem Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) Fellowship for medical women at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA. At the core of her leadership philosophy is inclusivity and inter-professional collaboration to enable empowerment and systems change.
Dr. Birk is widely acknowledged for her promotion of equity/diversity and inclusion. She appointed the first Indigenous Lead Physician within the Department of Pediatrics and Child Health. She is now co-leading faculty development for Indigenous cultural safety and anti-racism within the College of Medicine at the University of Manitoba. She was honored to be appointed an executive member of the Truth and Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group.
“When I think of the legacies of past winners of this award, I am truly humbled to be part of this group of trailblazing and visionary women leaders,” said Dr. Birk. “It is remarkable that three women from the Department of Pediatrics and Child Health received this distinction in the same year. That is a historic accomplishment both within the Max Rady College of Medicine and nationally. It is really a testament to the powerful women leaders who have mentored us and we must now pay it forward.”
This year seven UM community members have been named to the WXN Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada.
Research at the University of Manitoba is partially supported by funding from the Government of Canada Research Support Fund.