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Resident Spotlight: Dr. Christopher Del Balso, PGY4, Orthopaedic Surgery

Dr. Del Balso

From his appreciation of wine and great food, to his love for all things sports-related, Dr. Christopher Del Balso keeps himself busy in his spare time. But when he’s not off the clock, the fourth-year orthopaedic surgery resident brings the same energy and passion to his work with patients — something that inspires and encourages him to continue learning every day.

Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Toronto, Ontario. I was raised with three siblings in Vaughan, Ontario.

What degrees do you have, and from what universities?
I received my BSc (Hons) in Kinesiology and Health Science and my MSc in Neuromuscular Physiology from York University. I then completed my MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery) from the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia.

What special interests or hobbies do you have?
I have always been a sports enthusiast. I grew up playing hockey, soccer and golf, and continue to play hockey and golf when the opportunity arises. The excitement of attending live sporting events never seems to get old. I have been a lifelong Toronto Maple Leafs fan, and I also follow the Blue Jays, Raptors, Argonauts and Toronto FC. While in Australia for medical school, I gained an appreciation for cricket and rugby codes that I previously knew little about. I attended a number of matches and became a fan of the “Australian rules” football club, the Brisbane Lions (Australian Football League) and the Brisbane Broncos (National Rugby League) — I follow these teams to this day.

I have also long been interested in viticulture and vinification. I have previously been employed as a sommelier, and taught wine appreciation courses while living in Australia. I began cellaring wines a number of years ago, and continue to do so. Predictably intertwined with an appreciation of wine, is my love of great food. I know my way around a kitchen, and enjoy preparing meals for others. I can think of no better time spent than that with family and friends enjoying a well-prepared meal — naturally, with appropriate wine pairings. Having grown up in a home steeped in Italian tradition, there was a kind of inevitability in this.

Why did you choose to pursue your residency at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry?
The postgraduate training program in Orthopaedic Surgery at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry is an extraordinary residency program. The School has a long-standing reputation for producing some of the most proficient, knowledgeable and technically sound orthopaedic surgeons in the country. I am truly honoured to be a part of the ongoing tradition of excellence.

What inspires you in your work?
I really love what I do. My choice to pursue a career in orthopaedic surgery was not the result of a solitary event or sudden epiphany. Instead, my preference for orthopaedics can best be described as a natural progression following years of skill acquisition, observation and experience within the specialty. The opportunities that orthopaedic surgery provides is greatly appealing to me — I enjoy being able to use my knowledge of anatomy, form and function to diagnose pathology, help relieve pain and positively impact patients’ lives. I continue to be amazed by the functional restoration implicit to procedures such as total joint arthroplasty. I enjoy playing a part in providing people with improved quality of life. I don’t think of health as merely the absence of disease, but rather the ability to live life with vigour. Orthopaedic surgery offers me an opportunity to help people live their lives to the fullest — that is what inspires me.

What has been your greatest experience to date in your residency?
I certainly can’t pick just one. I’ve had hundreds of great experiences.

A surgical residency, regardless of specialty, can be a long and difficult road. Trying to meet service demands and at the same time acquire the knowledge and skills required to become a proficient surgeon can seem overwhelming. Orthopaedics in London is an especially busy surgical service, and yet I wake up each day excited to come into work. What makes it worthwhile and rewarding is the wonderful individuals I get to work with on a daily basis. I have a fantastic group of co-residents whom are hard-working, supportive and collegial. We function as a team, not merely a group of individuals. We benefit from working with a committed group of consultant orthopaedic surgeons whom genuinely believe resident education is a top priority. We are inspired and encouraged to continue learning by daily morning teaching sessions with these dedicated individuals. In essence, each day that I arrive at the hospital is a new great experience.

What do you do when you're not working?
When I’m not at work, I enjoy spending quality time with my family and friends in Toronto. I might go to a sports game, or spend an evening dining with my better half. I may be found maintaining the cleanliness of the interior and exterior of my motor vehicle, reading non-fiction, or searching out a new vintage to add to the wine collection.