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Kelly Ogilvie

MPH Candidate

Getting practical about public health: aspiring to innovate emergency room health care


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Kelly Ogilvie - working abroad

By Christine Elie, October 2012

Kelly Ogilvie has travelled the world gaining amazing work experience in the field of healthcare. She has spent time in South Africa, India, and Honduras to name a few. Recently hired as a Staff Attending Physician at the University of Ottawa, Kelly Ogilvie is completing her Master’s of Public Health at Queen’s University. She plans to do her practicum in public health in Ottawa. Her journey to Queen’s saw Kelly travel extensively working for a variety of international agencies and hospitals.

What drove Kelly to enter into the MPH program was her affinity for emergency medicine in international settings. On the advice of her mentors at the University of Toronto, where she completed her MD, Kelly turned to the MPH program at Queen’s. Of her time at Queen’s, Kelly states “it was a new program, so they were extremely flexible to let me try and complete the program with full time semesters and a break in the middle so I could finish my residency at the same time.” It was this flexibility and assistance that drew Kelly to do her MPH in Kingston: “Queen’s said they would do anything to help be achieve my goals.”

“In undergrad you interact with people and think. Residency is a bit different, but in med school there is a lot of information that requires a lot of memorization as opposed to interpretation.” Because of this disjuncture, Kelly decided that doing her Master’s degree in Public Health was the best option. She says that she chose to do her Master’s to “assimilate this information.” Public Health was the obvious choice to her because “it’s something I find interesting and it offers a lot of practical experience and education.”

Kelly’s international experience helped create her drive to be involved in public health. One of the moments that struck a chord occurred during her time in South Africa. “I was working at a trauma hospital,” she explained, “to gain more exposure to trauma- of which there is high volume there. While I was there, I realized there were certain things that needed to change. A man entered after having been stabbed in the chest. They don’t have a triage system and so he stood in line with a sucking chest wound.” Kelly took the situation into her own hands to help the man. “I took him straight into the trauma room to treat him. I knew that this man needed care right away.” She saw the importance of the implementation of a triage system and believes that “these changes could be vital for patient care.”

Kelly’s experiences have helped her focus her attention on what she believes is a pressing issue at most hospitals: prevention. She aspires to foster communication between hospitals and encourage coordination to prevent and monitor outbreaks. “There are a lot of patients without family physicians and many use emergency as their only source of healthcare.” Kelly claims that this makes monitoring outbreaks incredibly difficult. “I don’t know when I am working if there are people with the same symptoms in other emergency rooms in Ottawa. I don’t know if this is something or nothing. Is there an outbreak?  This, right away, is something that needs coordination so that we can recognize potential outbreaks earlier.”

It is clear that Kelly Ogilvie aspires to innovate. Her desire to enhance public health systems whether they are in South Africa or in Ottawa is truly inspirational. With Kelly’s global experiences and desire to reform and enhance health care systems, it is no surprise that she hopes to work for the World Health Organization in communicable and infectious diseases. She will be returning to work in Honduras in February 2013 and will be spending time working in Nepal in 2014.

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