Professor Christine Kilpatrick

Citation for the Award of Doctor of Medical Science (Honoris Causa)

Professor Christine Kilpatrick is an outstanding leader who has built cultures of collaboration and excellence through a distinguished career spanning clinical and academic medicine and hospital administration.

After graduating MBBS from the Melbourne Medical School, Christine Kilpatrick specialised in neurology. She published 74 papers in refereed journals and four book chapters and earned a reputation for clinical and academic leadership that saw her appointed to establish, and then lead for eleven years, the epilepsy program at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. As inaugural chair of the Victorian Epilepsy Centres she also brought together epilepsy programs across Victoria to coordinate standards of care, and develop common guidelines and collaborative research and education programs. In subsequent years epilepsy has developed as an area of academic and clinical excellence and innovation in Melbourne, coordinated across a number of research and clinical partners, with the University of Melbourne as a common partner.

During this time Christine Kilpatrick also made transformational contributions to Victoria’s health services through her membership of the Women’s and Children’s Health Board and chairmanship of the Victorian Quality Council. She served on the Women’s and Children’s Health Board for four years, as Chair for its last six months. The Government’s acceptance of her advice to disaggregate the two hospitals has underpinned the subsequent success of the Royal Women’s and the Royal Children’s Hospitals as separate and complementary health services. As chair of the Victorian Quality Council, Christine Kilpatrick introduced a range of initiatives that have improved patient safety and the quality of patient care in Victoria’s hospital system. Her leadership and advocacy for the development of practice tools and resources that facilitate the translation of evidence based research into practice, has been highly influential in improving the health service delivery culture in the State.

Christine Kilpatrick’s career move from clinical and academic to organisational leadership began with her appointment as Executive Director of Medical Services and Chief Medical Officer at Melbourne Health, then as Executive Director at Melbourne Health. She took up leadership of the Royal Children’s Hospital soon after the Victorian Government had committed to a new hospital building. Her leadership successfully prosecuted the hospital’s vision for a building that delivered improved patient care and working conditions for staff, and a welcoming environment for families. The move to the new building in 2011, complete with royal opening ceremony, was accomplished without the usual public controversy that so often attends the completion of major projects.

The relationship between the University of Melbourne and the Royal Children’s Hospital reaches back to 1879 when medical students were first accepted by the hospital. The symbiotic nature of this relationship, however, has been markedly strengthened under Christine Kilpatrick as CEO of the hospital. The creation of the Melbourne Children’s Campus, with the University’s Department of Paediatrics and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute (MCRI), to facilitate cooperative research, clinical care and education, has crystallised the virtuous circle of alliance required to build excellence in these important precursors of public health. This philosophy also underpins the creation of a number of philanthropically funded University chairs working in the hospital and the MCRI.

Her leadership is founded on values and vision, focused on building resources enable and support progress and improvements, and seeks actively to engage others in a shared ambition to advance paediatric care that will fundamentally change children’s lives.