Growing up in Pittsburgh, Leon L. Haley Jr. (MD ’90) dreamed of becoming the first African American sportscaster on network television. “But that changed when I mixed basketball with a trampoline,” he says. Having missed a slam dunk, young Haley wound up with a torn meniscus—and an awakening fascination with medicine.
As a student at Pitt med, he completed a summer program working afternoon shifts at the emergency department at St. Margaret’s Hospital. The variety of injury and trauma cases that came through the door inspired him to pursue emergency medicine. He completed his residency at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Mich., followed by a master’s in health services administration from the University of Michigan.
From there, Haley moved to Atlanta, where he rose through the ranks to professor of emergency medicine at Emory, as well as the university’s executive associate dean for clinical affairs for Grady Memorial Hospital. During his tenure there, he implemented a rapid medical evaluation process that shortened emergency medicine patient waiting times by 45 minutes and reduced the length of stay for the patients with the least pressing cases by three hours. The process also drastically decreased the number of patients who left without receiving care—by 50 percent.
In September, Haley was named dean of the College of Medicine, professor of emergency medicine, and vice president for health affairs at the University of Florida–Jacksonville.
As he looks to the future, Haley says teaching clinicians how to function in a digital environment will be critical. He emphasizes analytics, economics, and a push toward preventive medicine.
Luckily, Haley didn’t always appreciate the latter. A bit of prevention in his basketball years might have been a game changer.
INTERVIEW BY KATE BENZ
Photo by Cami Mesa
Wondering how to build your child’s character? Have him take out the garbage, says family physician Deborah Gilboa (MD ’00), aka “Dr. G.” A mother of four boys ages 9–15, Gilboa practices at the Squirrel Hill Health Center in Pittsburgh, and she has gained national acclaim as an author, Good Morning America contributor, parenting and youth development expert, award-winning educator, and keynote speaker. Gilboa, a former stage manager for the Second City theater, even offers improv programs to help families. During her recent appearances, she talks about how parents need to “step back so their kids can step up.”
How does taking out the garbage build character?
It teaches kids that their contribution makes the family better. Not just by being. But by doing. It teaches that they’re a necessary member of the family, that they are not too special to do things that are gross that benefit the whole home. To never have to do for themselves or for the household what is unpleasant leaves kids shocked and betrayed by the real world.
What do household chores tell us about the state of the world?
Kids should be unconditionally loved no matter what. But kids have moved to the center in pretty much every metric. Our society is going to grow a generation that expects to be constant receivers and doesn’t understand their role as contributors.
How can parents step back so their kids can step up?
Two percent of the time, they need us to throw ourselves in front of them with our bodies, actions, and voices, because their lives are in danger, emotionally or physically. But 98 percent of the time, they need someone who’s genuinely interested to see what they will do. And that is the hardest work of parenting: to not fix it for them. If your child is growing—physically, emotionally, spiritually, character- wise—you’re doing your job.