A Career Full of Notable Achievements

Published: May 11th 2010
in News » Local

Dr. Robert M. Filler

Dr. Robert M. Filler’s career is filled with notable stories and achievements.


Having recently completed an extraordinary 18-year term as the surgeon-in-chief at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, he still finds the passion and commitment to be active in various causes, one of which is the Canadian Society of Telehealth, of which he is a founding member. 


Dr. Filler is currently Professor of Surgery and Pediatrics Emeritus at the University of Toronto and is also a recipient of the Order of Ontario, which he received in 1995.


Aside from biographical familiarity, I’ve known Dr. Filler on a personal and professional level for over 20 years.  In 1990, I was diagnosed with acute ulcerative colitis.  I was a patient at the Hospital for Sick Children where he was a surgeon and I was lucky enough to have been placed in his care.  Since then I have kept a close relationship with Dr. Filler, and I can attest to the fact that he is remarkable as both a surgeon and human being.


Shalom Life had a chance to chat with Dr. Filler regarding his career, thoughts on the Canadian health care system and then some: 


SL: Why did you choose your profession?


RF: I always wanted to be a doctor from the time I was a small boy. That thought never went away and it was always something I wanted to do.  How I got into pediatric surgery, which is a super specialty, happened mostly by chance.  Where I was, where I trained, the exposure I had to other individuals and teachers. Finally, after going past several career choice crossroads I ended up in pediatric surgery.  That whole process after medical school took eight years.




SL: Was serving as Surgeon-in-Chief always a goal or yours?


RF: As part of my training I was always in an academic centre. The individuals I respected most were the various Surgeons-in-Chief who were the top of the line medical leaders, like the Generals-in-Command of the department.  They didn’t tell surgeons what to do in treating individual patients, but they made sure they lived up to the standards set by the department.


They designed teams of people for various activities and made sure they were accomplished. They were responsible for the training of medical students, as well as residents, on how to become surgeons. They ensured that the department had an important research component, as well. I found these organizational issues to be very important and challenging. They were the reason for my wanting to be the head of my own department.




SL: Having served as Surgeon-in-Chief at the Hospital for Sick Children for 18 years, what do you think makes this hospital so unique that people from all over the world come specifically here?


RF: Much has to do with the culture of the hospital, which has always attempted to b e the best in the world in every aspect of healthcare for children and their families. It’s a unique institution; it’s a children’s hospital that has the finest facilities, offers all available medical services for children, has an outstanding staff of doctors, nurses and allied medical professionals, not to mention the large staff of medical researchers whose achievements are widely recognized.


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