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Dr. Sarah Blissett: Driven by long-lasting relationships with her colleagues, supervisor and patients

Dr. Sarah Blissett got an early start in her health care career. Accepted into medical school before she completed her undergraduate degree, the sixth-year cardiology resident has gone above and beyond throughout her placement to create meaningful and long-lasting relationships with her colleagues, supervisors and patients.

Where were you born and raised?
I was born and raised in London, Ontario.

What degrees do you have, and from what universities?
I was accepted into medical school prior to completion of a Bachelor of Medical Sciences degree at Western University, and obtained a Doctor of Medicine from the University of Toronto.
I am currently enrolled in a primarily distanced-based Masters of Health Professions Education at Maastricht University.

What special interests or hobbies do you have?
I enjoy skating, biking and eating frozen yogurt.

Why did you choose to pursue your residency at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry?
Western has a fantastic cardiology subspecialty-training program. I was drawn to the close-knit group of residents and faculty, the large volume of complex patients seen at this tertiary care centre, and the opportunities for hands-on procedural experience. Additionally, the longstanding history of innovation in percutaneous coronary interventions, heart transplant, and electrophysiology made it clear that training in London would ensure my knowledge base parallel the state-of-the-art advances in care.

What inspires you in your work?
I would have to say it’s a combination of the patients and my supervisors. I was very fortunate to meet a mentor during my first rotation as an internal medicine resident that has continued to inspire me both as a cardiologist and as a medical educator.

What has been your greatest experience to date in your residency?
As a second-year internal medicine resident, I was involved in the care of a man transferred from Northern Ontario to the Coronary Care Unit (CCU) at Toronto General Hospital in cardiogenic shock from an ischemic cardiomyopathy. He was transferred to Toronto for a transplant assessment when I was on call. I spent a lot of time with him, understanding the fear of being away from his family and the upcoming decision regarding transplantation. On the last day of the rotation, his wife came from Thunder Bay to visit him and meet with the team. I moved on to my next rotation, never knowing what happened to the patient.

Fast forward three years, when I was on the heart failure rotation in London. There was a familiar name on the patient list — it was the patient from Toronto General Hospital, and he was doing extremely well two years after his heart transplant. I was touched that he and his wife remembered me from our previous encounter.

This experience made me recognize the long-lasting relationships we can form with patients at various stages of our careers and throughout their lives.

What do you do when you're not working?
I enjoy going for dinner with friends, travelling to warm places in the winter, staying active, and watching Netflix.