Professor Hannah McGee and Michael Dowling awarded RCSI Honorary Fellowships

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Honorary Fellowship recipients Professor Hannah McGee, RCSI Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs; and Michael Dowling, President and CEO of Northwell Health.

On Friday, 9 February, Professor Hannah McGee, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at RCSI and Michael J. Dowling, President and CEO of Northwell Health were awarded Honorary Fellowships of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland at the 2024 Charter Day Dinner.

Honorary Fellowship of RCSI is the highest distinction the College bestows, recognising outstanding achievement in surgery as well as outstanding achievements in other areas. 

Professor Hannah McGee has made an outstanding contribution to RCSI, holding roles as professor of psychology and later head of department. In 2010 she was appointed dean and since 2021 she has held the office of Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (DVCAA). In 2010, she led the team that secured independent degree-awarding status for RCSI. This landmark achievement in RCSI’s history led directly to RCSI being granted University status in 2019. Her achievements as dean and DVCAA include major curricular reform and establishment of a School of Population Health.  

Throughout her stellar research career exploring psychosocial aspects of health-related quality of life, Professor McGee published widely, is highly cited and has influenced national and international policy. Key achievements included her central role in establishment of the SPHeRE programme, a generational investment by the HRB in health services research, and her authorship of the SAVI report, which gave a voice to some of the most vulnerable individuals in our country and retains an enduring influence on Irish society.

She has held all key leadership roles in her discipline, including the presidencies of the Psychological Society of Ireland and the European Health Psychology Society. In recognition of her academic achievements, she was awarded a DSc from the National University of Ireland in 2015 and was elected to Membership of the Royal Irish Academy in 2021. 

In his role as President and CEO of Northwell Health, the largest healthcare provider in New York State, Michael Dowling has led the organisation to clinical, academic and research success over his 22-year tenure. Michael is a committed leader to 85,000 employees, who care for more than 2 million people annually through Northwell’s network of 21 hospitals, over 50 urgent-care centres and 220 primary-care practices.

Northwell’s research arm, the Feinstein Institute, houses 50 research labs, 3,000 clinical research trials and 5,000 scientists and staff. Academically, the graduate medical education program at Northwell is one of the largest in North America. When faced with a shortage of medical graduates, Michael took the initiative to fund a medical school, and he also founded a corporate university in 2002 to facilitate a culture of lifelong learning amongst all employees, not solely those in clinical care.   

Citation reader Professor Deborah McNamara, RCSI Vice-President; Honorary Fellowship recipient Professor Hannah McGee, RCSI Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs; and Professor Laura Viani, RCSI President.

Reading the citation for Professor McGee, Professor Deborah McNamara, Vice-President of RCSI said: “Professor McGee has made an outstanding contribution to RCSI. Her scholarship alone places her among RCSI’s top 20 researchers but the fact that this has been achieved while holding key leadership roles in our university is unparalleled. Perhaps her greatest contribution to health sciences is her commitment to developing future generations, our students and junior faculty.

“She has been a most distinguished servant of RCSI and in accepting this Fellowship, she does us the great honour of allowing RCSI to continue this association in perpetuity.” 

Citation reader Ms Margaret O’Donnell, RCSI Council Member;  Honorary Fellowship recipient Michael Dowling, President and CEO of Northwell Health;  and Professor Laura Viani, RCSI President

Ms Margaret O’Donnell, Council Member, RCSI, who read the citation for Michael Dowling said: “I have the honour of proposing one of the most influential people in healthcare in North America for an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

“An advocate for patient-focused care and a champion of quality and patient safety, and his refusal to accept that something can’t be done, meant that Northwell was uniquely prepared for the Covid pandemic, and had one of the most advanced, non-government emergency response systems in the States.”  

“Few of us here will influence the care and survival of more patients than Michael has done.

Speaking at the event, Professor Laura Viani, President of RCSI, said: “Please join me in congratulating our two new honorary fellows, Michael Dowling and Professor Hannah McGee on their Honorary Fellowships – the highest order we confer.” 

“We are delighted to have you both here this evening and to be able to acknowledge in person the enormous contribution each of you has made in the pursuit of excellence and innovation.”