- Role Model -
Name: Dawn Armstrong
Occupation: Medical Oncologist
Employer: Eastern Health
Education: BSC with Honours Dalhousie University, Doctor of Medicine Memorial University, Internal Medicine Residency Memorial University, Medical Oncology Residency University of Alberta
Hometown: Grand Falls-Windsor, NL
Current community of residency: Pouch Cove, NL
What does your typical work day involve?
I work primarily in an outpatient clinic setting, but also treat patients who are admitted to the hospital and teach medical students and residents at Memorial University. I am also involved in clinical trials testing new therapies. I work together in a large team of 9 other Medical Oncologist, GP Oncologists, Nurses, Pharmacists, Social workers and Dieticians.
What do you love most about your profession? Why did you choose this career?
I love the interaction with patients, and being able to support and help them during a very difficult time in their life. I also love the ongoing learning with new drugs and clinical trials. I choose this career after shadowing a Medical Oncologist when I was a Medical Student. This Oncologist is still a mentor of mine.
When did you realize you wanted to work in STEM?
Not until I finished my undergraduate degree which I did in both the arts and sciences. I also travelled the world for 3 years before deciding on Medical School. I think it is ok, and actually very important, to take time in your life to see what you like, and it’s also ok to change careers.
What were your favorite subjects in school?
Biology and Literature
What advice would you give girls, who are still in school, who might be considering a career like yours?
If you are interested in a career, get to know someone who is working in it now. Shadow them, spend time with them, as the career you picture, may not be what it is truly like. For example, I was very interested in pursuing Marine Biology, but after a work term, realized it was much more indoor work that I imagined.
Why do we need more women in skilled trades and STEM?
Diversity improves every team, and workplace.
Who was your role model? What about this person inspires you?
My Mom. She was a feminist before I knew what that was. She raised 3 strong daughters, and never let anything get in her way. She was always passionate about equality for all people. She was also in a leadership position when it was very rare for women to be leaders.
What do you do for fun? What are some of your hobbies/activities?
I love being active, outdoors if I can, with my husband, daughter and Husky. I have also fallen in love with weight lifting, and love the constant challenge (physically and mentally). Physical exercise is key to my mental health, as my job can be very tiring (emotionally and physically with very long hours).
What superhero do you relate to most? Why?
Deadpool!? Seriously I know very little about superheroes, but just recently watched Deadpool. It’s a strange answer I know, but I respected his humour in the face of obstacles. Sometimes, you just have to laugh.
Anything else you wish to share?
It’s so important to follow your heart and your gut when choosing a career, and not choose something just because you think you should. Life is short, and your career takes up so much of it, so take your time, and do something that gives you joy (at least most of the time!).
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