On September 30, Doug Cochrane’s time as chair of the BC Patient Safety & Quality Council comes to an end. He has held the position since our organization was formed in 2008 and, needless to say, over the past 11 years he’s had a tremendous impact on our staff, our work and our province’s health care system. Leading up to September, we’ll be releasing a series of articles that highlight his time at the Council.

Jenna Smith-Forrester

Previous articles: Part 1: In the BeginningPart 2: Those Red Shoes

Doug has been teaching emerging leaders and future surgeons for almost four decades, first at the University of Calgary and then the University of British Columbia, where he is currently a Professor Emeritus within the department of surgery. During that time he built interactive teaching programs for parents whose children have brain tumours or congenital malformations of their skulls and brains, developed quality/risk assessment frameworks for surgical and medical care, and taught teamwork and non-technical skills in addition to pediatric neurosurgery.

Along the way he’s had a significant impact on students and teaching colleagues. For example, over the years Doug has strongly supported UBC’s chapter of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement Open School, a program which gives students training and practical opportunities in quality improvement.

Lawrence Yang

It was through the Open School that Doug, who recently retired from clinical practice as a pediatric neurosurgeon, met Jenna Smith-Forrester, the chapter’s past president. Jenna credits him with inspiring her to combine her passions for quality improvement, surgery and the neurosciences.

“Every so often someone’s influence gives you that extra motivation to pick yourself up and push your own limits, to see what you are really capable of achieving. For me, that was Doug,” Jenna said. “I start my neurosurgery residency on July 1 and could not be more grateful for mentors like Doug who so graciously reminded me that the only limits are the ones I place on myself.”

And do you remember Doug’s red shoes? Well they tend to stand out and when Lawrence Yang, a family doctor in Surrey who was also wearing red shoes at Quality Forum 2017, noticed Doug’s pair he knew they needed to connect. Doug took the time to support Lawrence’s growth as a physician and personal well-being.

“I’ll never forget the time he has taken to show care for me, encourage me to lean into my change agency and prioritize self-care for myself and my colleagues,” Lawrence added.

Lawrence later enrolled in our Clinician Quality Academy program, where Doug teaches about becoming a clinical leader in improvement work. Lawrence saw firsthand Doug’s “profound ability to lead and inspire others as he models deep listening, humility, optimism and powerful compassion for humanity.”

Dan Skarlicki

Doug’s impact also extends to hundreds of graduates of the Physician Leadership Program, which we proudly collaborate on with UBC’s Sauder School of Business and Faculty of Medicine, BC’s health authorities and Doctors of BC’s Special Services Committee. Doug is an Academic Program Lead and teaches participants about health care leadership.

“Doug personifies the qualities of the quintessential leader with his wisdom, generosity, humility and dedication to developing leadership in health care in BC,” said Daniel Skarlicki, the Edgar Kaiser Chair of Organizational Behaviour at the Sauder School of Business. “Doug has made and continues to make a tremendous impact not only on the program but on me personally.”