Laura Drudi

Vascular Surgeon

Centre Hospitalier de l'Universite de Montreal

And - Space Medicine Researcher

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If you can dream it you can create it! Enjoy the journey as you build that future.

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WHAT DO YOU DO?

I am a Vascular Surgeon in Montreal. I treat patients with vascular disease and save lives and limbs with the goal to improve patient quality of life and care.

 

I completed a Diploma of Space Studies at the International Space University while pursuing clinical research with the Canadian Space Agency and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). I subsequently completed my medical degree at McGill University and went on to pursue postgraduate medical training in Vascular Surgery at McGill University. During my surgical training, my passions for clinical research led me to pursue and complete a Master’s of Science in Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Occupational Health at McGill University. Under the mentorship of Dr. Jonathan Afilalo, I designed and directed a prospective study evaluating frailty in vascular surgery, which was one of the first pilot studies to do so for vascular surgery. I received 6 grants, the most notable being the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) Canada Graduate Scholarship and the Fonds de recherche du Québec-Santé (FRQS) Master’s award. I have over 30 peer-reviewed publications, numerous conference abstracts, invited lectures, contributions to grants, correspondences with the media, as well as prestigious local, national, and international awards. My goal is to continue to build a platform for frailty research at the Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montreal (CHUM) and become a national and international leader.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS FIELD?

While in medical school, I shadowed a vascular surgeon in at the Jewish General Hospital. He took me under his wing and allowed me to assist in his operative cases. I was immediately hooked and started to pursue research with this surgeon. I immediately expressed an interest to follow in his footsteps and was lucky enough to train under his mentorship as a resident.

 

Vascular surgery allowed me to perform life and limb-salvaging procedures on a daily basis. The flip side to this, is that unfortunately certain limbs are not salvageable, and we must perform amputations. However, the support I give to my patients during their trials and tribulations is another aspect I value tremendously. By being present for my patients and hopefully enabling a better quality of life will be the cornerstone of how I will continue to practice medicine and surgery.

HOW DO/DID YOU TACKLE OBSTACLES?

The most challenging aspects are juggling work-life balance. The rates of burnout are one of the highest in vascular surgery. Integrating wellness activities and being present with family in a busy schedule is certainly a challenge. I am aware of these challenges and make a conscious effort to take care of my wellness so I may provide the best care to my patients.

 

I suffered burnout while in residency and this enabled me to subsequently speak openly about mental health with peers and colleagues and build a support network for residents. I became a leader in the Society for Vascular Surgery and was a member of the SVS Wellness Task Force assessing and addressing burnout in our membership. I am still engaged in this community as we continually face workforce challenges particularly around the COVID-19 pandemic.

WHAT DO YOU LOOK AT & THINK, "I WISH YOUNGER ME WOULD HAVE KNOWN THIS WAS POSSIBLE?"

It’s easy to constantly be on the hamster wheel and not realize the accomplishments we have achieved along the way. It is inherent in a Type-A personality to constantly be moving on to the next project and challenge. However, I wish I could tell my younger self - be present and enjoy the journey. I have always imagined a life of service and fulfillment by being a physician and surgeon. I don’t think I would have ever considered I would be pursuing the practice I am pursuing as a surgeon in Montreal. But everything and anything is possible with dedication and vision.

WHY DO YOU LOVE WORKING IN STEM?

I get to come to work and improve the lives of my patients every day! It is truly a blessing to be pursuing a life of service enabling better quality of life for vascular patients.

BEST ADVICE FOR NEXT GENERATION?

I would counsel all others considering pursuing their wildest dreams, that if you can dream it you can create it! Enjoy the journey as you build that future.

INSPIRATION

Shoot for the moon, because even if you miss, you will land among the stars

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