The CFMS–MD Financial Management Leadership Awards recognize passionate, dedicated and caring medical student leaders throughout Canada who have made innovative contributions to their schools and communities
To say that Frank Battaglia grew up with close family ties is an understatement—with 36 family members living just a few kilometers away from one another in the small town of Stoney Creek, ON, Frank was never far away from an aunt, uncle, second-cousin, or grandparent. “They’re your classic large, loud, Italian family,” Frank says.
He traces his interest in science all the way back to the time he spent playing in his grandmother’s house, exploring, conducting self-styled experiments. His interest in science bloomed in high school, where he attended science camp and connected with some passionate teachers. He soon found himself hooked on high school biology, where he says he fell in love with the human body. “I just loved the hands-on aspect of the sciences.”
In Grade 11, Frank travelled to the Dominican Republic with a student group to help build houses. But during his time there, he couldn’t help questioning the effectiveness of what he was there to do. “I thought it was strange that we were there to build houses when there were more qualified people right there on the island who could have done it.” Frank wondered why they weren’t doing something that the locals couldn’t do for themselves. “One day, I saw a boy whose arm had been cut open, and I watched him put honey and leaves on the wound to treat it. I immediately thought to myself: access to health care is something meaningful that we can bring to this place.”
In the following year, Frank partnered with International Service Learning to send a group of global health volunteers to the Dominican community of El Mangular, and he returned at the end of Grade 12 with a team of local doctors and translators to open a clinic that offered free health care.
This kind of proactive leadership might be rare in most high school kids. But not for Frank. He’s unabashed about his love for leading projects and initiatives, no matter how daunting they might be. “The secret to being a good leader is having a great team,” Frank says. “I always make sure I’m working with exceptionally qualified people – people who are team leaders themselves – and so far, I’ve been very lucky: every team I've worked with over the past six years has been amazing.”
Over Frank’s 3 years at McGill, he continued to balance medical sciences, altruism, and leadership through pursuing a degree in Physiology, performing research into the biochemical pathways of cancer metabolism, volunteering at the Montreal General Hospital, and representing his colleagues each year on the Physiology Student Council.
Today, Frank is a third-year medical student at the University of Ottawa, navigating his clerkship, and balancing the responsibilities of being Student Council President. He’s also deeply involved in research on medical education, cardiac surgery, emergency medicine, and gender disparity. And because he recognizes the importance of work/life balance, he plays intramural volleyball and manages to hit the gym 3-4 times a week. If all this seems like a lot for one student to manage…it is. But Frank works to master his time management. “My calendar is my life,” he laughs. “I use it religiously. It’s how I get through everything.” Planning ahead helps him accomplish all the different things he wants to do—even if it’s relaxing in front of the TV. “Yeah, I’ll schedule time to just sit and watch Netflix.”
Throughout all this, Frank has developed a powerful vision of what a doctor’s role should be in contemporary Canada. “Today, physicians need to be well-rounded—they need to be politicians, researchers, educators. They need to be leaders. We have a duty to be advocates…not just for our patients, but for all Canadians. That means understanding and identifying our position on issues that have national implications, like assisted suicide and resource allocation.” Since he was a teenager, Frank’s commitment to these principles has guided much of his success, and he’s looking forward to carrying those beliefs forward into his medical career. “It’s a shift from being internally focussed to externally focussed, and I’m excited to see it happening in my classmates and in myself.”
Frank is a 3rd year medical student from Stoney Creek, Ontario, studying medicine at the University of Ottawa. When not on the wards, this Italian-raised Canadian spends his time managing his team as Student Council President, developing his procedural skills medical education curriculum, volunteering at the Children’s Hospital, working on his cooking skills, and working out at the gym. He credits his position in medical school to the amazing supports of his loving family and amazing friends.
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