Children's Mercy Names New Surgeon-In-Chief
They’re swapping offices, but other than that Dr. Whit Holcomb and Dr. Shawn St. Peter say they don’t anticipate big changes in the near term when Dr. Holcomb steps down as Surgeon-In-Chief and Chairman of the Department of Surgery and turns those duties over to Dr. St. Peter on July 1.
“I think it’s going to be a really good and easy transition,” said Dr. Holcomb, MD, MBA, The Katharine B. Richardson Endowed Chair in Pediatric Surgery, who has spent 18 years in the Surgery leadership role. “I’ve been thinking about this leadership change for a year-and-a-half or two years and we’ve been working on it for a year. I don’t see many changes occurring early on, and then as things need to change, Shawn will make those decisions.”
Dr. St. Peter, MD, agreed, saying, “I don’t foresee big change in the near future, either. I think that has to present itself as times change.” His current roles include Program Director-Pediatric Surgery Fellowship and Surgical Scholars Program; Director of Research, Department of Surgery; and Director-Center for Prospective Clinical Trial.
Dr. St. Peter will be only the fourth Surgeon-In-Chief in the history of Children’s Mercy. Dr. Raymond Amoury was the first, serving from 1975 to 1994; he was followed by Dr. Keith Ashcraft who served until 1999, when Dr. Holcomb began his tenure in the position.
“I would like to assure a smooth transition while maintaining a high-functioning, collaborative department that has grown so much under Dr. Holcomb’s leadership,” Dr. St. Peter said, adding that his vision is to, “Facilitate both surgical growth and raise our academic profile within all the sections/divisions, and continue to improve seamless workflow with Anesthesia, Perioperiative, Nursing and Surgery.” He also noted that the growth of subspecialization at CM requires more surgeon-to-surgeon collaboration.When Dr. Holcomb came to Children’s Mercy, only two surgeons were employed by the hospital; there were more private surgeons than employed surgeons. Today, the Department of Surgery has over 50 employed surgeons and another 20 who are contracted, and the department performed 20,000 surgeries last year. Under his leadership, the department also has become well-known for its use of minimally invasive surgery.
Dr. St. Peter has been at Children’s Mercy for 13 years: 11 as a staff member, and he completed a two-year fellowship here. His experience, plus the fact that Dr. Holcomb isn’t retiring, just shifting his focus, will maintain the continuity in leadership that the Department of Surgery has enjoyed over the years.“I came here from outside, from Vanderbilt, but Shawn’s had the opportunity to work alongside the administrative leadership of our department, have significant responsibilities and be part of the leadership team. He’s done a lot of work on his own and has led a number of key endeavors in the department, so I think he’ll be able to hit the ground running much faster than I was.”
Dr. Holcomb will focus much of his clinical practice at Children’s Mercy Hospital Kansas (CMHK) and will help lead the planning and implementation of the future of surgical services at CMHK. He will expand his academic work, having been selected recently to serve as Editor-In-Chief of the Journal of Pediatric Surgery, the premier journal in the field of pediatric surgery. He also will continue serving as one of the editors of the Seventh Edition of Ashcraft’s Pediatric Surgery, and will continue to give invited national and international lectures.
Dr. St. Peter said, “His continued presence and offering of guidance is going to be very important.”
Dr. St. Peter has earned national and international recognition for his comparative effectiveness research. He has published over 300 peer-reviewed publications and over 20 book chapters, in addition to being deeply engaged in CM’s perioperative Lean effort.
“I think this is the perfect time to make this transition and that Shawn’s the perfect person to be the next Surgeon-in-Chief,” Dr. Holcomb said. “Shawn is a superb surgeon, a very accomplished researcher, and everyone works well with him, so I think we’re in great shape.”
Learn more about the Department of Surgery at Children's Mercy.