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Charlottetown native selected to prestigious 2019 Presidential Leadership Scholars class

Charlottetown native Dr. Ajay Sahajpal says he is humbled and honoured to be among the 60 people selected to the Presidential Leadership Scholars program after a rigorous application and review process.
Charlottetown native Dr. Ajay Sahajpal says he is humbled and honoured to be among the 60 people selected to the Presidential Leadership Scholars program after a rigorous application and review process. - Contributed

A prominent transplant surgeon originally from P.E.I. has been selected to the fifth annual class of the prestigious Presidential Leadership Scholars (PSL).

Dr. Ajay Sahajpal is among the 60 scholars given the nod after a rigorous application and review process.

Scholars were chosen based on their leadership growth potential and their personal leadership projects aimed at improving civic engagement or social good by addressing a problem or need in their community, the U.S. or the world.

Sahajpal, 43, grew up in one of roughly 15 Indian families in Charlottetown at the time.

Since joining Aurora St. Luke’s Organ Transplant Team in Milwaukee in 2008, he has performed hundreds of liver, kidney and pancreas transplants. He also does plenty of cancer surgery at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Centre.

A few years ago, Sahajpal implemented a new surgical technique for patients who require both a kidney and liver. He was the first surgeon in the U.S. to utilize the technique called en bloc, where the kidney and liver are stitched together in the back-table preparation area and then implanted with a singular incision into a patient’s upper abdomen.

Sahajpal, who describes himself as a proud Islander and former paper boy, says he is humbled and honoured to be part of the PLS program and to have the opportunity to learn alongside a diverse group of committed leaders.

“As a first-generation immigrant from Canada, I'm pursuing my dream of being a physician and helping people and communities live healthier lives,’’ he told The Guardian.

“I’m grateful to my parents who inspired me to pursue my dreams, starting with my father who began his teaching career in Canada at a one-room school in Enmore, P.E.I., in 1967, and my mother for always being there for me. I’m looking forward to continuing to advocate for patients and communities on a national scale and having the opportunity to spread innovative health-care models across the nation that improve safety, quality and cost-effective care."

His leadership project, which relates to work he did outside his clinical practice, uses the electronic health record to screen populations for high acuity disease states, such as hepatitis C. His goal is to implement screening strategies nationally.

The PLS program serves as a catalyst for a diverse network of leaders brought together to collaborate and make a difference in the world as they learn about leadership through the lens of the presidential experiences of George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Lyndon B. Johnson.

Over the course of several months, scholars will travel to each participating presidential centre to learn from former presidents, key former administration officials, business and civic leaders and leading academics. They will study and put into practice varying approaches to leadership and exchange ideas to help strengthen their impact in their communities.

About the Presidential Leadership Scholars

  • The latest class joins an active network of 240 scholars applying lessons learned through the program to make a difference in the U.S. and around the world. Examples of these scholarled efforts include providing employment and mentorship to veterans, helping developing nations access safe anesthesia services for effective surgical care, empowering women with economic opportunity through clean energy in Africa and deploying much-needed resources in the wake of natural disasters.
  • Since the program began in 2015, scholars have consistently reported remarkable growth in skills, responsibilities, and opportunities for impact. For example, 95 per cent of scholars reported their sense of confidence or purpose as a leader changed since beginning PLS, and 68 per cent of scholars reported new responsibilities or a role change in their work or career since beginning PLS.

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