Focus on Students: Ashlee Edgell
A Q&A with clinical research fellow Ashlee Edgell
Photos By: Provided
Ashlee Edgell holds several roles in UC’s Department of Emergency Medicine. As a clinical research fellow, she works in both clinical and research settings: as a clinical studies assistant (CSA) and counselor in the Early Intervention Program (EIP) in the UC Health University Hospital Emergency Department and in a lab studying abdominal aortic aneurysms under the mentorship of Andra Blomkalns, MD.
A former varsity athlete and two-time Big East Conference champion swimmer, Edgell is applying to medical school. She says her career choice was inspired by her brother Justin and his experience with a form of dwarfism.
What does your role as a clinical research fellow entail?
“As part of the fellowship program, I was set up with a faculty mentor to guide me through the development of a research project.
“With the help of Jason McMullan, MD, I developed a protocol, implemented the study and presented my research at a national conference in December 2011. I am also presenting at the Society of Academic Emergency Medicine annual meeting. Publication of my manuscript will be under way in the coming months.
“As a CSA, I screen every patient that comes into the ED and determine eligibility for the departmental studies, from traumatic brain injuries to heart failure to skin infections. As an EIP counselor, I perform HIV testing and counseling to those presenting with risk factors associated with HIV. I also attend weekly Grand Rounds with the residents to gain more experience in evidence-based medicine.”
How did you come to UC?
“I attended the University of Notre Dame on a four-year swimming scholarship. After receiving my Bachelor of Science in 2010, and with plans to take a year to gain experience in the medical field prior to applying to medical school, I applied for the Clinical Research Fellowship.
“I learned of the program through a physician that I shadowed while I was still in undergrad. I have been blessed to stay with the program for a second year as I worked through the application process to medical school.”
What’s your favorite part of your work here?
“The most amazing part of the job is getting to work with extremely knowledgeable, talented and generous people. You get out of this job exactly what you want from it. I can say that I have taken full advantage of asking questions, observing procedures, understanding the behind-the-scenes work and developing strong relationships.
What led you to apply to medical school?
“My 30-year-old brother, Justin, is my hero. He was born with a very rare form of dwarfism. After going from doctor to doctor who offered few options and even less hope, my parents were referred to an orthopedic surgeon in Baltimore. It was that encounter with Dr. Kopits that changed my brother’s life, changed our family and is a big part of the reason I decided to go to medical school.
“During Justin’s hospitalizations, I remember there was a playroom that I would spend nearly every day and every night in. It was not an ordinary playroom. It was more like a mini-hospital with a vast array of medical supplies and a dummy doll on which a new friend and I could practice our doctoring skills.
“I was just a little girl, playing in what seemed like a “normal” setting. But I watched my brother suffer through numerous surgeries and struggle through years of rehabilitation. I witnessed first-hand how Dr. Kopits and other physicians improved his quality of life. They cared if Justin was suffering; they cared about what happened to him; they cared about my parents and me. It was this early exposure to the world of medicine that has significantly influenced my desire to become a doctor.
“Back then I thought it was about “fixing” people, like I “fixed” things in that playroom. But now I know there is much more to medicine than that. It is about making a difference. It is about having a purpose-driven and passion-driven life. It is about showing the same compassion for patients and their loved ones as Dr. Kopits showed my brother and our family. That is why I want to be a physician.”
Where do you live in Cincinnati? What kind of things do you do outside of UC?
“After graduation, I moved back in with my parents in the house in which I grew up. We live in Madeira, a place you really appreciate once you have been away and have come back. My brother is married to his high school sweetheart, and they live just down the road in Dillonvale. I have also taken on the role of older sister to the two most wonderful girls in the whole world, Abby and Izzy—the daughters of our close family friends.
“In my free time I love to train for triathlons. I am now training for a half-Ironman in Muncie, Ind., in July—this will be my second at that distance. Triathlons have been my outlet since I retired from my collegiate swimming career in February of 2010.
“When I am not working out, you can find me coaching local swim teams. I coach for both Madeira High School and Madeira Swim and Tennis Club. Coaching is my passion, and I hope that I can continue to do that for many years to come.”