Meet Dr. Caitlin Symonette, 37, plastic surgeon, London Health Sciences Centre, assistant professor, department of surgery, Western University, and one of our 20 Under 40 Class of 2021 recipients
SURGEON, PROFESSOR AND MOTHER to three children under the age of seven, Dr. Caitlin Symonette is blazing trails in the use of technology to gain insights into the rehabilitation journey. Through the development of a novel and innovative platform for extremity tele-rehabilitation, she is improving efficiencies for both hospitals and patients, and helping to put London on the map as a leader in the organizational restructuring of pediatric plastic surgery.
What would you call your biggest business achievement, and why?
My biggest professional achievement to date is the creation of ‘DIGITs’ through collaboration with my amazing team of talented frontline healthcare workers and engineers. DIGITs is a web app that allows for the remote assessment of finger range of motion, dexterity and swelling through the use of computer vision and augmented reality. The ability to capture clinically relevant data remotely has huge implications on the delivery of care and rehabilitation of patients with hand pathology.
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What about your biggest obstacle?
High clinical volume in an under-resourced environment is a challenge in our current healthcare system. Being part of an academic institution, there are also additional requirements of productivity with respect to teaching and research. Working to optimize time between clinical and academic responsibilities, which have been traditionally siloed, is an ongoing day-to-day challenge. Healthcare is a large, complex system with a workplace culture stretched to satisfy multiple unique stakeholders.
Who, or what, has been your biggest influence?
My biggest influences have been the individuals in my life, such as my husband, Radek, who challenges me to ‘think big, but start small’ and to embrace disruption of conventional approaches.
An old friend is coming to town — where are you eating?
One of my favorite restaurants in the city is Shiki Japanese Restaurant on Wellington Road. I went there on my first date with my husband, back in 2002, and over the past 20 years have enjoyed their great food and service.
If you weren’t in your current field, what would you be doing?