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Dallas 500

Meet the Dallas 500: Robert Walker, Scottish Rite for Children

The hospital president and CEO shares how he developed his work ethic, how he spends his free time, and what he sees in store for the health system.
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Robert Walker joined Scottish Rite for Children in 1979, serving as executive vice president and chief operating officer before being named president and CEO in 2012. The 33rd-degree Scottish Rite mason has guided Scottish Rite for Children to become one of the highest-ranked pediatric orthopedic centers in the world. He has held numerous board and leadership positions with the Texas Hospital Association and American Hospital Association, DFW Hospital Council, Shelton School, BMW Dallas Marathon, and more.

Scottish Rite was founded in 1921 when a group of masons approached one of Dallas’ first orthopedic surgeons, W.B. Carrell, about building a facility to care for children suffering from polio, regardless of their ability to pay. When the vaccine effectively eliminated polio in America, the hospital expanded to other conditions and today focuses on complex orthopedic cases and certain arthritic and neurological disorders like dyslexia. It treated all patients free of charge until 2012. In the fiscal year of 2023, the Dallas and Frisco campuses of the hospital hosted 79,211 outpatient clinic visits, 33,523 outpatient physical and occupational therapy visits, and performed 3,555 surgeries. U.S. News and World Report ranked Scottish Rite as No. 4 in the country for pediatric orthopedics.

Below, read about how Walker developed his work ethic, how he spends his free time, and what he sees in store for the health system.

Education: Trinity University (MHA), East Texas State University (BBA)

First Job: “My first job was with the City of Garland during high school. I worked in the street department and spent the majority of the day behind a patch truck patching potholes. I learned to appreciate and value the hard work that is done by our city street crews. I also learned the importance of air conditioning in the summer heat.”

Key Advice: “I was taught to respect the perspective of others even if they differ from yours and to apply the golden rule in life by treating others as you want to be treated.”

Hobbies: “For more than 40 years, I have been an avid runner and have run several marathons, including three Boston Marathons. I recently included the Peloton in my workout routine, which I really enjoy. I also greatly enjoy the outdoors and love to drive tractors.”

Biggest Success: “Over the past 12 months, the organization has continued to experience growth and treat significantly more patients at both the Dallas and Frisco campuses. Our mission is to give children back their childhood by providing exceptional care to children and their families. For many years, Scottish Rite for Children has received extremely high ratings for patient satisfaction by our patient families.”

Key Strategies: “Clear communication and transparency, building a leadership team of highly competent individuals, and instilling in the organization that every staff member is valued and plays an integral role in the organization’s mission.”

Future Forecast: “Scottish Rite has the opportunity, through research and innovation, to play a pivotal role in the advancement of pediatric orthopedic care worldwide, thus enabling the organization to impact the lives of many more children.”

Author

Will Maddox

Will Maddox

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Will is the senior writer for D CEO magazine and the editor of D CEO Healthcare. He's written about healthcare…

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