Ashley DiPasquale

June 2022

University of Alberta

Tell us about yourself.
I am originally from New Brunswick and completed my medical school at Dalhousie University New Brunswick. During my residency, I completed a MSc in Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Why did you choose a career in general surgery?
I knew early on in medical school I had an interest in women’s health and surgical oncology. Breast surgical oncology combined both of those interests along with the many other interesting procedures general surgery offers. The program in Edmonton was welcoming and friendly. They made me feel right at home despite being miles away from my family.

What are you research or academic interests?
My main research interests are in breast cancer patient outcomes including quality of life measurement. I also have a strong interest in intimate partner violence education as it is something that all surgeons will see not just trauma surgeons. Unfortunately, IPV became even more common during the pandemic and often peaks at times of relationship stress such as a new cancer diagnosis.

What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned throughout your training?
Your colleagues are so important! Whether it’s studying, call coverage, or just having fun your colleagues can make such a difference in your quality of life! And, it is just as important to be a good colleague has it is to have good ones to rely on.

Do you have any call rituals?
I have a call bag I keep in my locker of duplicates of the things I would use at home at night. I also have a ton of snacks I keep at the hospital (I’m talking fudgsicles, cheese, cereal with milk, and much more. I am forever grateful to the program for having a full-size fridge in the lounge. One of the co-residents takes their own pillow and heated blanket haha. You need to do whatever makes 24+ hours with little sleep a little easier.

What do you do for fun?
I really enjoy getting to the mountains or the water as much as possible. Edmonton has a great food scene as well that I like to enjoy with the great group of friends I have made here during residency. Otherwise, I like spending time at home with my pets.

What are your career goals?
After residency, I will be completing a breast oncoplastic surgery fellowship. Then, I am planning a career in breast surgical oncology after that.

If you could go back and give advice to yourself in medical school what would it be?
Figure out what you like! Don’t worry about what is competitive, what salary they get paid, or what the job market is. All those things are good to think about, but the priority is finding something that is engaging and rewarding to you. Residency is long and you will have a long career, so you should enjoy it after working this hard. I would also say to complete your USMLES. You might never need them, but it is the best time to do them, and it keeps all your options open for future fellowships.

If you could go back and give advice to yourself as a junior resident, what would it be?
I think it would be to trust in the process of residency. It is so easy to feel like you don’t know enough or haven’t had enough operate experience. But, by your chief year you realize how much you have learned and how much you are able to do technically. Also, I would tell myself there is usually enough time to at least grab a quick snack or drink even when you feel like you have a million places to be at once.