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Realizing life-long dream with local residency

For Dr. Andrew Brigden, pursuing his residency at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry is a dream come true. After meeting with Drs. Burke and Montaleone he knew it would be a perfect fit and was enthusiastic to come back home to continue his medical training.

Where were you born and raised and what is your educational background?

I was born in Leamington at the former Leamington District Memorial Hospital now Erie Shores Health Care. I grew up living in Kingsville, and I attended public and high school in Kingsville before starting post-secondary education in the Paramedic Program at St. Clair College in Windsor. I then completed an aeromedical course to certify in flight medicine and upgraded my skill set at Georgian College in the Advance Care Paramedic program.

From there I enrolled in a BHSc Degree in Paramedicine through Victoria University in Australia and then enrolled in the University of Science Arts and Technology to complete my Doctor of Medicine, which led me home to Western University where I am a PGY 1 in Psychiatry.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in medicine?

From a young age I was inspired by helping others.  I was involved early on with the Red Cross, firefighting and paramedics and I seemed to excel at the patient care.

I have always looked for ways to improve myself with the end goal to be the best that I can be for patients. I just kept working away as life-long learner.

I have had many mentors throughout my learning and the first was John Lassaline, a professor of paramedicine. He instilled academic medicine into my life and pushed me to reach my limits.

I’ve also been blessed with positive role models in psychiatry including Drs. Montaleone, Villella and Cortese. My number one mentor is my wife; without her my becoming a physician would not be possible.

Why did you choose Psychiatry?

Most people assumed that with my background in pre-hospital medicine I would end up in emergency medicine. However, throughout the didactic years of my medical training, I was very intrigued with psychiatry and mental health. As a paramedic, we were provided with very limited training for mental health so it was something new and exciting. This was confirmed after my my clerkship years, and I quickly began building my resume for residency application in CaRMS and ERAS. It is fascinating work, with lots of great research, technology and funding the future looks very bright and I am excited for my part in it.

Why did you choose to pursue your residency at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry?

Residency at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry is a dream come true. My family and my wife’s family are from the Windsor area. My wife works at Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare, and we have many life-long friends in the community; it is home. Having met with Dr. Brian Burke, the Program Director, and with positive feedback from Dr. Montaleone, who then was in his final year of residency, it seemed like the best fit for my future academic training.

What is the greatest lesson you have learned from your patients so far?

Humility. I'm constantly learning new lessons from patients - everyone has a story to share and it is amazing what we can learn when we listen.

What about your day-to-day work makes you most excited/the most anxious?

Excitement comes easy with the education, patient care, and satisfaction of a long day's work.     

My life as a psychiatry resident is very fulfilling and gratifying. I can feel anxious with the responsibility of it all.
It’s a 24/7 vocation and it can be difficult to balance being part-student, part-teacher, and providing service to the community.

What would your fellow residents find most surprising about you?

Endurance sports. I’ve raced in Ironman triathlons.

If you could have one super power, what would it be and why?

Teleportation. I could save so much time if I could teleport anywhere in the world on command.

Which famous person, alive or dead, would you like to have lunch with? Why?

That would be Elon Musk. I am a huge supporter of his companies. He is a visionary, who takes on great challenges with logic using principles of physics, which to me is very inspiring.