For newly appointed chief of critical care, the ICU is the heart of the hospital.

“Critical care is the heart of the hospital,” says Dr. Francesca Rubulotta, who was recently appointed the first chair of the newly created Department of Critical Care Medicine at the MUHC. “The intensive care unit is where really sick patients from all corners of the hospital come to receive immediate, life-saving care.”

Dr. Francesca Rubulotta
Dr. Francesca Rubulotta

Dr. Rubulotta brings to her new role decades of international experience in critical care medicine, anesthesia and surgery. She looks forward to making the intensive care unit (ICU) a more open space for students. “There are misconceptions about the critical care setting as being intimidating. I want to more students seeking a profession in healthcare to come to our unit; it is not so scary,” she says. One of her goals is to welcome a greater number of international students to train at the MUHC while at the same time creating more fellowship opportunities.

A native of Italy, Dr. Rubulotta moved to Montreal to take on this new role. Despite the advancements women have made in the medical field, critical care remains a sector where men outnumber women. Dr. Rubulotta believes that in order to create greater equity in areas that are lacking, women need more sponsorship rather than mentorship. “We need more ‘he for she’, she explains. “My name was put forward for this position by my colleague Dr. Sheldon Madger, and that is what we need more of.”

Innovation, diversity, equality, advocacy and leadership

Her passion for critical care does not stop at her professional duties. In 2020, Dr. Rubulotta launched a non-profit called International Women in Intensive and Critical Care Network (iWinn), which promotes innovation, diversity, equality, advocacy and leadership. “The goal is for women from all over the world to network so that they can pull for each other in the profession of critical care,” she says. The second annual conference will be held in Catania, Italy on June 24 and 25, 2022.

During her time in Europe, Dr. Rubulotta campaigned to become the president of the European Society of Critical Care Medicine. While campaigning, she was told by a colleague that she would have better chances of being elected if she did not wear high heels while rounding. “Ha! The way anyone chooses to dress is not an indicator of their intelligence or capabilities,” she says. “So now, I make sure to wear my heels!”

from left to right: Maryam Tarshi, respiratory therapist, Chantal Piche, respiratory therapist, Dr. Francesca Rubulotta, Aasmine Kaur, clinical research coordinator, and Nawaporn Assanangkornchai, medical resident.
From left to right: Maryam Tarshi, respiratory therapist, Chantal Piche, respiratory therapist, Dr. Francesca Rubulotta, Aasmine Kaur, clinical research coordinator, and Nawaporn Assanangkornchai, medical resident.