One of America’s top surgeons moves to UNE

Published 28 April 2011

pmckeownProfessor Peter Philip McKeown, a respected senior surgeon with an international reputation, has been appointed as Professor and Head of the School of Rural Medicine at the University of New England. He will take up the position in September.

Peter McKeown received his medical school training at the University of Queensland before leaving for advanced training in the United States and Europe. His postgraduate training included posts at Stanford University, Emory University and Harley Street Clinic.  He holds an MBA degree from the University of South Florida and Master of Public Administration and Master of Public Health degrees from Harvard University. He is certified by the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Thoracic Surgery and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.

He currently holds a professorial clinical appointment and is a surgeon at The Heart Institute, Pikeville Medical Centre, Kentucky, and is a Consultant Staff Physician at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in the United States. He has held senior clinical and professorial positions at the Veterans Administration Medical Centre in Lexington (Kentucky) and Asheville (North Carolina), and the positions of Professor of Surgery at the University of South Florida and Consulting Professor of Surgery at Duke University, North Carolina.

Professor McKeown (pictured here) has had a long-term interest in rural medicine and has led or participated in humanitarian missions to Bolivia, Mongolia, Indonesia and Vietnam. In his current position at The Heart Institute he has been involved in developing a sophisticated cardiovascular and thoracic surgery program in a very rural and underserved part of America. His research interests include the use of simulation in medical and surgical education, the implementation of evidence-based medicine, and the use of technology to deliver high-quality care in the rural sector.

He has been involved in almost all aspects of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery, including transplants, ventricular assist devices, valve repairs, endovascular repair of aneurysms, video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery, and congenital cases. In the past two years, in his current position, he has introduced a range of innovative technologies including homograft root replacement and electromagnetic navigation bronchoscopy, and is currently involved in the process of designing a robotic minimally-invasive program. By developing an integrated team approach he has been able to significantly reduce operative mortality and postoperative length of stay.

Professor McKeown has been listed by the Consumers’ Research Council of America in its Guide to America’s Top Surgeons.

In announcing the appointment, Professor Victor Minichiello, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of UNE’s Faculty of The Professions, said that Professor McKeown had “a strong record in building teams, working collaboratively, and recruiting and retaining high-calibre faculty and staff to deliver clinical excellence”.

“Professor McKeown has a strong commitment to providing professional development for medical staff and students,” Professor Minichiello said. “These are important leadership qualities for us as we continue to develop the reputation of the School of Rural Medicine and demonstrate our capacity and contributions to the Joint Medical Program offered in conjunction with the University of Newcastle.  We are now well placed, with the support of both State and Federal Governments and the private health sector, to create a Centre of Excellence in Clinical Rural Education in Armidale and Tamworth – and the wider New England community – so that we can provide students in the Joint Medical Program with a first-class teaching and clinical education experience.”

In accepting his UNE appointment, Professor McKeown said he was “tremendously honoured” by it. “The Joint Medical Program with the University of Newcastle brings together the best of both the rural and urban aspects of medical care and training and offers enormous scope for curriculum development,” he continued. “And during my visits to the University of New England I was tremendously impressed by the enthusiasm of the medical students and the creativity of the academic leadership of the University.”

“While I am grateful for the many opportunities I have had overseas,” he said, “I have ‘always called Australia home’. So the chance to come home is a very welcome one.”