FTG 0064 – Adaptive Sports Medicine Care and Engineering with Physician Dr. Victoria Heasley ’14, ’18g

Episode 6 April 09, 2024 01:01:31
FTG 0064 – Adaptive Sports Medicine Care and Engineering with Physician Dr. Victoria Heasley ’14, ’18g
Following the Gong, a Podcast of the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State
FTG 0064 – Adaptive Sports Medicine Care and Engineering with Physician Dr. Victoria Heasley ’14, ’18g

Apr 09 2024 | 01:01:31


Hosted By

Sean Goheen

Show Notes


Dr. Victoria Heasley ’14 Engineering, ‘18g Medicine joins Following the Gong to discuss her story and career. Victoria is a physician, professor, and engineer at the University of Cincinnati, where she supports community members and UC athletes in need of adaptive sports medicine to leave fuller, happier, and healthier lives. She explains what this field is, how she got into it, and how her experiences at Penn State – both in the College of Engineering and at the College of Medicine through the Early Assurance Program – laid the foundation for her career so far. This includes out of the classroom involvement that influences community non-profit work that leverages her talents and her experience as a Disney World Cast Member. This episode is great for any Scholar, and especially those interested in athletics, engineering, and/or medicine. Victoria’s bio is available below along with chapter markers detailing the topics discussed. 

Guest Bio:

Dr. Victoria Heasley ’14 Eng, ‘18g Medicine is a physician at The University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati OH where she is an assistant professor in the departments of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, and Biomedical Engineering. She earned a BS in Biomedical Engineering with Honors from Penn State in 2014. She also earned her medical degree at Penn State Hershey Medical School. She is happy to speak further about her experiences in the fields of PM&R, Sports Medicine, Biomedical engineering, and her subspecialty of Adaptive Sports Medicine & Equipment. Please feel free to connect with her at her professional Instagram: @adaptivesportsdoc or via LinkedIn.

Episode Topic & Chapters:

0:00         Introductions

0:21         Choosing Penn State and the SHC

1:33         Choosing the biomedical engineering major

3:05         Out of the classroom involvement

5:10         Medical volunteerism before med school

7:44         The Honors Thesis

9:52         Working at Disney World before med school

14:35       Applying to the early assurance program at the College of Medicine

18:09       Advice for aspiring physicians for succeeding in med school

20:13       Making lifelong friendships at SHC

21:43       Third year rotations and finding a specialty for residency

23:52       Defining adaptive medicine and other terms

26:44       An "average" day as an adaptive medicine physician

29:27       Working with patients

31:17       Adding teaching into your skillset as a physician

33:54       Working with athletes and community members

37:25       Adaptive medical devices and sports equipment

40:10       Skills needed for working in adaptive medicine and devices

42:37       Volunteering in the community as an alumna and starting a non-profit

46:29       The future of adaptive sports medicine

48:28       Questions the host should have asked but did not

50:25       Reflecting on successes and mistakes

54:17       Thoughts on mentorship

56:05       Shoutouts

56:51       Victoria’s final advice

58:52       How to connect with Victoria

59:30       Which Creamery flavor Victoria would be

01:00:33   Wrap up and final thoughts


Schreyer Honors College Links: 





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Make a Gift to Benefit Schreyer Scholars 

Join the Penn State Alumni Association 


Credits & Notes:

This show is hosted, produced, and edited by Sean Goheen '11 Lib (Schreyer), '23g Bus.

The artwork was created by Tom Harrington, the College’s Web Developer. 

The sound effect is “Chinese Gong,” accessed via SoundBible used under Creative Commons License. 

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

[00:00:05] Sean: Joining me here today on following the gone all the way from Cincinnati, Ohio, is Dr. Victoria Heasley. Thanks for hopping on with us today. [00:00:14] Victoria: Thanks for having me. I'm excited. [00:00:17] Sean: I'm glad you were able to join us from the city of Waffles. If you don't know what I'm talking about, if you ever get to Cincinnati, make sure you try the waffles while you're, you know, we're not here to talk about waffles. We're here to talk about adaptive medicine and your story. But I always, like, know, ask our guests, how did you first come to Penn State and find your way to the honors college? [00:00:39] Victoria: Well, I actually grew up. I'm from Pennsylvania. I'm from around Pittsburgh area. And ironically, I grew up Penn State fan. My family had season football tickets, went there all the time. And I was actually convinced I wanted to go somewhere warmer for college. I was like, I'm not gong to Penn State. There's too much snow because I obviously grew up with lots of snow. And then I remember actually, when I was doing all the college tours around the country, I still fell in love with, like, the thing that really made it for me was actually being able to be a part of the honors college because I liked that kind of the smaller field, but in a big university with all the perks. And so that's really what sold it, even though I was convinced I wanted to go somewhere warmer. [00:01:26] Sean: Well, I mean, if you got to spend a summer here in Happy Valley, you can get some of the warmth and sunshine, but it's pretty much like May through August. So if you ever spend a summer session here, you may get to. But I'm glad that you ended up kind of taking that path, know, continuing the family tradition. But speaking of paths, what drew you? You were a biomedical engineering major. Did you always have designs on engineering or medicine? What was your academic interest? How did you find that? [00:01:59] Victoria: I think since I was like three years old, I actually always said I wanted to be a doctor. I was playing doctor with my stuffed animals or my toys. But then actually starting in high school, I loved building things. I always did as a kid, but in high school, I really loved math and physics. And I remember some mentors and teachers at that point said, you should really consider engineering as well. Also, my dad's an engineer, but I was trying to ignore that fact until he and some mentors told me to consider engineering. And so then it kind of started making sense to me because I started talking in high school, even that there are some physicians that work with engineers all the time, but they don't really speak the same language. And so to me, it kind of just made sense. I had this kind of click light bulb moment, like, oh, I could just do both. I could speak both languages. I could be an engineer and a physician and try to help with. Back then, what I was thinking really was, like, device development and kind of speak both languages. And so then when I was looking for colleges, I was mainly looking for biomedical engineering. [00:03:09] Sean: Well, you definitely picked the right place in Penn State for a program like that. Now, I know engineering is no matter which discipline you pick, it's pretty demanding. It takes up a lot of your time, but you still found time outside of the classroom to seek out opportunities for the C in our mission statement, creating opportunities for leadership and civic engagement. So tell us about life outside of the classroom for a bioengineering major. [00:03:35] Victoria: Yeah, I did spend some time outside classroom still working with the engineering college. I helped a lot of students. When they're coming in, they do, like, basically a big freshman orientation for engineering. And at the time, it was called, like, the engineering orientation network, or Eon. I don't think that's actually still a thing, but it was a huge undertaking as kind of working with a lot of upper class and engineers and helping prepare all year, basically, for when the new freshmen came and helping that, you know, definitely outside the classroom, but I still always stayed true and hung out with other engineers, I would say. But then I think a lot of other time was, I think what Penn State has great opportunities is know anything, right? That you can volunteer and you can find anything you're interested in to volunteer. But I spent some time volunteering at the hospital because I wanted to see if I liked that clinical component and liked helping out patients and things. So definitely, I know Schreyer has helped me get into that position as well, which I'm very thankful for. [00:04:44] Sean: Definitely a benefit of being in the honors college. Some of those connections and having that thing, it can open some doors. Doesn't always, it's not a guarantee, but it definitely can help open some doors for definitely. [00:04:56] Victoria: I honestly, I remember saying to people considering coming to Schreyer, I was like, I feel like you just have the opportunities, maybe that you wouldn't have other places, or you have opportunities at Penn State that other students wouldn't have because of all the connections. [00:05:14] Sean: Absolutely. Now, I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about what was your volunteer experience like, presuming that was at Mount Knitney Medical center. [00:05:21] Victoria: Yeah, I spent a lot of time in the emergency department there. And as an undergraduate, I literally would help transport patients from the emergency department to different parts of the hospital. And I feel like that actually gave me opportunities to, one just talk to patients. And I know that sounds crazy, but that's a skill that is very important, obviously, when you go to med school and everything, but just being able to talk and develop those skills. But I think what I actually remember liking and learning the most from was because I'd be volunteering there. And so a lot of the nurses and other physicians started to recognize me, know who I was. And so then if there was some downtime, they would pull me in and teach me things. So I think I got more than just transporting patients. I certainly got that experience and getting those kind of little bit of teaching moments from those staff. And I really do appreciate that because I think that helped me a lot from the clinical standpoint when I got to med school. Just having that little bit of edge. [00:06:26] Sean: I would say that's awesome. And Mount Nittany, hopefully, you haven't had to go there if you're a student here, but it's right around the corner from Beaver Stadium, so it's not like you're going very far at all. So it's right there over past the tailgate fields. Now, you said you were in the emergency department, and just to jump ahead a little bit, obviously you were in adaptive medicine, physical rehabilitation, that sort of thing. So how did that emergency department experience influence that decision later on? [00:06:57] Victoria: I think the emergency department was a great place for fonts hearing from the standpoint, I'd never been in a medical field at all. When I was obviously an undergrad, I didn't have any exposure to that. So it was really helpful to see a very broad patient population. Right. Anything from someone was in a car accident and had trauma to someone who had the worst headache of their life, really very vast types of patients. And so I think that was really just helpful to get that broad experience. Obviously, when you go to medical school, you get really thrown into so many different specialties, and that's really where you get to kind of figure out what type of doctor you want to, you know, I think mainly medical school is where I found the specialty that I wanted to be, which is the whole point. [00:07:43] Sean: Awesome. Well, we'll dive into that in a couple of minutes, but we're still at your Penn State part of the story here. And obviously, this is the Schreyer podcast, so we have to talk thesis. Tell us about your topic. How did you know, establish what you were going to research and then tell us about your project and how it's influenced your career so far. [00:08:03] Victoria: Yes. So when I was looking into research projects, I think I definitely started looking in my freshman year, and then sophomore year is when I got pretty involved in research. I got involved with synthetic biology or genetic engineering, and there was an undergraduate competition called IGEM, which is international genetic engineering machine is what it stands for. But it was really cool because there was about like four or five undergrads who would do, we did a whole summer research project. So we lived up in state college. We worked in one of the labs, and the professors and the PhD students and postdocs helped mentor us. And we worked on this project and then got to compete at this international competition to kind of present our research. But then I was able to take that and expand it into my thesis. So then I ended up working on that all the rest of my time at Penn State. And so it was a benchwork, research. And I think I can't say enough about how that opens a lot of doors, I would say even just from on my resume applying to medical school. But I think it just gave me such an experience that other students really don't have. I mean, I was working with amazing PhD students, and they're professors and postdocs, and I had this one on one mentorship, and they were teaching me these skills which were well beyond where I would have normally been as an undergraduate student. And so I can't say enough about that experience that I probably shouldn't have been getting right as an undergrad. But Shrier gave me that opportunity to have. And so I think it helped me also understand what research I liked, what research I maybe wanted to pursue later. And it gave you that, I think, that kind of insight. [00:09:57] Sean: Awesome. Now we're going to take a real hard left turn here. You shared that. Know, it was kind of that transition from Penn State undergrad to med school that you worked at Disney World. Is that right? How did that fit into the equation here? That feels like a real, very strange interlude between the two stages. [00:10:24] Victoria: Oh, my gosh, yes. So I grew up going to Disney, loved Walt Disney World, and I used to actually dance most of my, you know, I think back in high school, I was always like, oh, I would love to be a dancer, a performer at Disney World. But I remember auditioning to be a performer at Disney. But the way it worked was you had to sign at that time. I don't know how it works now, but at that time you had to sign, like, a year contract, and that would have made me delay college. And I was, you know, I kind of want to be an engineer and go to med school, so I probably shouldn't keep delaying school to be a performer, but I always wanted to work at Disney. And so then once I got into medical school, I had a summer available to me. And I remember one of my advisors said, it's totally fine to do something not scientific and not research and not medical volunteering and kind of just to have a little bit of diversified experience or fun, basically. And so then I worked at Disney between my junior and senior summer, and then I was able to stay a cast member. And so then I could work between my senior year and med school, and then I would kind of go down the Christmas break, and I'd pick up a couple of shifts or spring break, and it was just very fun. It was so different than anything I had done. And I have to say, the amount of customer relations that you get trained there and the experiences that you learn, I think have been really helpful to be a physician. And honestly, I think it was like two weeks, at least, of training of how to deal with people. And that's more than training I've had any other know. [00:12:16] Sean: I had a past guest. I think it was Dr. Eric Gibney, a past episode you can check out when you're done watching or listening to this, know that cast member experience of customer service. That's something Disney is known for, probably has positively impacted your bedside manner is kind of what you're alluding to, right? [00:12:35] Victoria: Definitely. I think it's just part of, again, honestly, I think looking back at, like, two weeks of training of just how to interact with people. Right. And when people are upset, maybe, or when people are asking difficult questions or that customer relation and how to work with customers and guests, but also how to work with your team members. I think that you can use that in any job, and I think it definitely helps in difficult situations from a medical side, too. And I remember I would definitely draw back on some of those experiences and teachings at times when people are asking me difficult questions and just having to just put a smile on your face. Right. And make the magic happen. [00:13:19] Sean: That's awesome. Yeah. I think you talked about being a dancer and was it your advisor was like, go do something not scientific. I think that helps make a more well rounded person. [00:13:31] Victoria: I would mean, because I chose to just do, like, Disney in the summers and things, I obviously couldn't perform because I just worked at Magic Kingdom and I worked on Main street, and it was totally different. I never worked anything like that. I worked in the store. The. So, you know, I'd never done anything like that before. And you met a lot of different people and a lot of people from around the world. And I think it's nice to kind of put yourself out of your comfort zone a little bit. [00:14:05] Sean: Absolutely. And if you're not familiar, that is like when you go to the magic kingdom, you have to go through Main street. There is no way around that. That is the entrance to the park. So you were seeing everybody? [00:14:16] Victoria: I was seeing everyone. And I think some of the fun part, too, was even just the other cast members. I mean, I remember getting close to some other cast members from England and Australia, and just learning about how they grew up was just really interesting and really unique. I don't think I would have met them great. [00:14:36] Sean: And, you know, so you're doing these during your summers, and concurrent to that, you have to figure out which med school you're going to go to, right. So you're taking these steps. You're volunteering over at Mount Knitney Medical center. You're also applying to med school. So walk us through your process of which schools you were applying to and ultimately how you decided which was the right one for you. So that current students who are in a similar place, whether it's med school, law school, or some other kind of post secondary education, so that they can think about the factors that are important to them in making a decision for another educational institution, whether that's Penn State continuing or somewhere else. [00:15:17] Victoria: So I was actually a little bit of a unique situation because I applied to Penn State Medical school as early acceptance. And so the way it worked was during my sophomore year, I actually applied to Penn State Medical School and interviewed and did the whole process where I visited the medical school, I interviewed with the physicians there and their college and deans and everything, and then I was offered a spot. And the way that that worked for me actually was. It was actually through Schreyer that they did this, like, early acceptance. I think only two people. There's two spots. I still had to take my MCAT test, so I had to get a certain score on that and I had to keep a certain GPA. But for me, it is different. It was different than some of my peers who were applying to a lot of different schools. I do have to say I was very excited and honored to have that early acceptance because it did take some of the stress away of having to apply to 2030 schools and interview. And obviously I liked Penn State medical school, so it was my first choice anyway. And that's why I did apply for the early acceptance. So I was very fortunate from that standpoint. [00:16:45] Sean: Awesome. So what advice do you have for aspiring med students to succeed? Whether they go elsewhere, but particularly if they end up staying kind of in the family, if you will, at the College of Medicine? [00:16:58] Victoria: Down in mean, I've kind of sat on different committees, right. With the application committee for students coming into medical school and then even online from medical school to residency, residency to fellowship. So I've seen the whole process. I've been on the other side and I've been through it. Obviously. I think one of the biggest things is staying true to yourself. I think there's so many things out there, whether it's on blogs or social media or people think that, oh, I have to do this to get into medical school, or I have to have this on my resume, or I have to complete this research and this and that. And I think as long as we can tell on your application that you're passionate about something, I think that says a lot. And so if you are passionate about, for example, volunteering at an animal shelter, that's fine, right? It's not volunteering at the hospital. But if we can tell that you're passionate about something and you've really committed to that and you're working towards something, I think that's one advice I would give. I don't think necessarily I was given that per se, but I think that can speak volumes about yourself and who you are. [00:18:14] Sean: Excellent. And what about once you make that decision, you get accepted? What are some strategies for making it through the rigors of med school that you would have for future doctors? [00:18:31] Victoria: Med school is tough. I think something that I would give advice for is when, say, you are interviewing for med school or you're trying to find your place, I think trying to find where you feel like you fit in because the people. So your med students, your other classmates, I think are what helped me get through med school is by having those friendships and having people support each other and not being competitive or cutthroat and instead being like, that's why I like Penn State med school, to be honest. But really that community feeling and everyone supporting each other. And I think my advice would be is to find that school where you feel like, hey, these feel like my people, or I feel like very comfortable here because I think that will help you feel like you fit in and find that group of friends and be able to study together. Right. And go take coffee breaks and asking each other questions when you get confused in class. And I think that's the thing that helped me get through. And my friends from medical school would say the same thing, but I think you have to have that camaraderie and that community, for sure. [00:19:44] Sean: Awesome. So same could be said for Schreyer here in undergrad and then for med school, or similarly for other post grad programs, or even just if you go straight into the world of work, finding that community outside. [00:19:58] Victoria: Absolutely. And I think, mean, one of my best friends is I met her in Shire, and we always talk about that. We feel like we helped each other, right, get through the rigors of engineering and stuff and through Schreyer, but we met each other and we found our people, right. And that, I think, makes the biggest difference. [00:20:18] Sean: If I can. Victoria, I would love if I think this was one of the stories that you shared in your questionnaire about how you became friends with this person. I laughed when I read it. If you want to share, it might be a good time since you brought it up. [00:20:31] Victoria: Perfect. Yeah. In freshman year, one of the honors classes that I took, I think was honors calculus. Maybe two, I think so it's really small. It's a small class, which is awesome for the honors class. And I sat next to this girl, her name is Sarah. And I had noticed. I saw her in my scissors class and my chem class. But then it was small enough in the calculus class that I sat down next to her and I literally said, I was like, hey, I'm Victoria. I've noticed you in a lot of our classes. I think we should be friends. And what's really funny about that is that she would say that she's very introverted, and she thought I was, like, crazy for saying this. And she's like, oh, I'll never see this girl again after this semester. And then, well, we've been friends ever since. I think we've made it at least a ten year mark of friendship, and she's still one of my best friends. She didn't shake me. [00:21:31] Sean: A common theme on this podcast is sometimes you just have to ask for things, and that can include friends. So I think that's a great story, Victoria. [00:21:41] Victoria: I love it. And every time she brings up, she's like, I really thought, oh, I'll never see this girl again after this semester. [00:21:48] Sean: So we're going to pivot back to med school, because I'm sure that's why a lot of folks are either watching or listening here. And so you're in med school, and obviously once you get to that third year, typically in most programs, you start doing your rotations so that you can start thinking about residency and specialties. So talk about that process. What was that like? What were the things you were looking for to help you identify which was the area that you wanted to pursue once you graduated from the College of Med at Hershey? [00:22:18] Victoria: Yes. So the first two years are mainly classwork and things, and you do get to do a lot of clinical in the first two years at Penn State, which is great. The third year are like your core rotations. So those are mainly like, we would call them the core specialties. So surgery, internal medicine, family medicine, pediatric ob guide, and then that's kind of your exposure. So you can kind of start narrowing down what you like, and then you basically have to know by the end of your third year because that's when you're applying your residency of what specialty you want to do. And what was really helpful is that we got electives at Penn State. And so I was trying to figure out what specialty I liked, and it kind of all goes back to I knew I wanted to do some sort of device development. I wanted to work as a physician and as an engineer, and I was trying to figure out what type of devices I liked. And I was getting really nervous because I wasn't liking anything so far. And then luckily, I found the field called physical medicine and rehabilitation. And I remember sitting in the office of the chair of the department, and I was kind of explaining, like, I have this vision of using my engineering background and using it as a doctor and being able to create devices. I just don't know what that looks like yet. And I remember him saying to me, he's like, you have to do this specialty. He's like, you can 100% do any sort of adaptive equipment or assistive devices and all within physical medicine. And so then they let me kind of change my schedule, and so I got to do an elective and fell in love with the field, and here we are. [00:23:57] Sean: So for those of us who are not medical professionals, we're going to dive into what exactly that is. But first, let's define what that is. You shared some different terms, like physical medicine, rehabilitation, adaptive medicine. So for us laypeople, can you define those? So that sets up the rest of our conversation here. [00:24:18] Victoria: Yeah, absolutely. So my specialty, what I did for residency, is the field of medicine called PMNR. So physical medicine and rehabilitation. We also are called physiatrists. It's a very special word there. It's a very unique specialty, and it's not very well known, I would say, unless you really need us. And so the field of medicine, PM R, takes care of any patient from someone who has a knee injury on a football field, all the way up to someone who has a stroke, traumatic brain injury, or spinal cord injury. So a huge variety. And what I like to think about the field is we really care and focus on quality of life for the patients. And so we want to make the patients as functional as possible, whether that's helping with equipment or pain or different procedures and things to help them be as functional and have an abundant life. And so, again, it's a very unique field, and most people don't know us because they don't need us. And then kind of branching into adaptive sports medicine. So I did fellowship then, in sports medicine, but my area of expertise, my super niche area, I would say, is adaptive sports medicine. And so the way I kind of think about this is sports medicine for people of all abilities, all functional abilities, and whether that means that maybe some in adaptive sports, maybe that means that people need to use equipment or modified rules. But again, we just want to make sure anyone, regardless of their abilities, can do a sport or recreation. [00:25:59] Sean: So, obviously, athletics is a big part of the culture here at Penn State. So how do you fit in with things like you see in the news, oh, XYZ athlete tore their ACL or they need Tommy John surgery or something. How does that relate to what your specialty is? [00:26:17] Victoria: Yeah, so, because I did my residency and then I did fellowship in sports medicine, I am one of those sports medicine physicians here at UC. So I'm on the sidelines of football and soccer or volleyball, any sport I'm on the sidelines of. So, yes, I see all of those college athletes all the time. And then in clinic as well, sometimes we'll have maybe past college level athletes or professional athletes. So, yes, that's my day to day basis. Exactly. [00:26:49] Sean: So let's start kind of in the clinical setting first. This is always a silly question, like, what's a typical day like, but what's like an average day in the hospital or in the offices for somebody in your specialty? [00:27:06] Victoria: Yeah. So, unfortunately, every single day of my week is very different, which I like, and that's partially why I kind of chose the position that I have when I am practicing. I'm normally an outpatient setting, so not in the hospital, just in the clinic settings. And I'm seeing anything from a patient who maybe fell and broke their wrist. Or I could see someone who had a spinal cord injury and has shoulder pain and needs a procedure on their shoulder, and I'll do the procedure. Or I'm seeing someone, maybe even with back pain who needs a back injection. Or I'm seeing a person who has a prosthetic leg and they're trying to become a better runner. And so it's very different. I would say anything in between there. I like it because it's very exciting. Right. Honestly, I could have a twelve year old coming in with hip pain and they're a basketball player. And then my next patient could be an 86 year old who's a swimmer and has shoulder pain. And then my next patient could be a 50 year old patient who had a stroke and wants to be able to fish again. So it's really very variety, and I really like that. [00:28:24] Sean: So you do a little bit of PT, physical therapy, kind of oriented things. It sounds like you have surgical responsibilities. Is that a fair understanding? [00:28:35] Victoria: Yeah. So we work with the physical therapists and occupational therapists a lot. They're part of our very core clinical team, the physical medicine and rehabilitation, sports medicine, physician side of things. We're doing a lot of the kind of diagnostics and procedure and even diagnostic procedures as well as treatments. And so that's kind of where we fit in, I would say. And so a lot of the times as well, I will be doing a procedure, and then if conservative measures, I'll do something. And then if someone needs a knee replacement, then one of my colleagues will do the knee. I don't do the actual surgery myself, but I do everything up into the surgery. So I'm in the orthopedics department as well. And so we work very closely with the surgeons, and they'll be like, hey, try this. Can you do this procedure for me? Ultrasound guided procedure or x ray guided, something like that. So I do a lot of those things. [00:29:32] Sean: So you said in the defining part of this is this is an area that a lot of folks don't necessarily think about until they need you. It's probably similar to things like oncology or other medicines where you don't need them until you need them. So how do you work with patients? And maybe drawing back on your Disney answers here, if they need you, they're definitely experiencing some kind of pain, some kind of setback physically. But there's also the emotional toll of dealing with your example of the 50 year old stroke victim who wants to fish again. It's probably important to them. How do you work with them on that side. And how does that impact your teaching and research as well? [00:30:12] Victoria: Actually it was a good point. You said bringing back to the Disney experience, right. In training. But I think something that I always really focus on when I'm talking to the patients again is know our specialty and myself is like, I want to help you get back to what you want to you. I don't want anyone saying like, this isn't possible or you can't do this. I hate saying that. I hate being told that. So it's like I'm very like, I want to help you get back to what you want to do and have your quality of life that you want and have the abundant life that you can have. And so I always kind of phrase it like that because like you're saying a lot of these patients have gone through something setback or even life altering. And it's really nice because I think we get to be able to build those relationships with the people, with our patients and help them see that maybe life is different now, but that doesn't mean that it's worse, maybe it's even better. And then really trying to build those relationships and then helping them get back to what they want to do or maybe even find something new to do and whatever they value in their life is what I want to help them get back to. [00:31:22] Sean: So I mentioned that you teach and you had that like your CV, you have teaching experience and responsibilities and I want to know how do you become a teaching physician? How does that work? How do you learn those skills to be able to help train? I think you work both with undergrad engineers as well as with med students at UC. So how did you learn that skill set on top of all of your medical. [00:31:56] Victoria: Mean? I don't think, I never had any classes per se or like formal education of how to be an educator. I do think from the standpoint of teaching medical students and now obviously I teach residents and I teach fellows. I think a lot of that is very experience based. And what I always try to ask them, especially the med students and the residents, like, hey, what are your learning preferences like? Are you a visual learner? Do you like to see videos or do you like more of an explanation and trying to understand what. Because they're all adult learners and those types of skills and those types of learners I think change. And so I always try to meet them where they're at and see what works for them and then I try my best to kind of alter and see where I can go from there. But I think it's really nice from the medical student and the resident fellow. A lot of it is they're learning clinically, and they're learning how to be the type of doctor they want to be. And so a lot of it is us just having discussions and me showing them sometimes how I do something and teaching them how to do it. And then a lot of the times they're doing it, and I'm just making sure that they're doing it correctly. So I think that's a very different type of teaching and type of being kind of more of a mentor, I would say, and teacher. And then from the standpoint. So part of my position is I help teach the capstone courses here for the biomedical engineering students who are the undergrad. And luckily, I had experience. Actually, when I was at Penn State med school, I helped teach with another professor and be one of the mentors for the Capstone projects there. And so I had that experience even as a med student. And then I kind of carried that forward and continued doing that here throughout my training of residency and everything. And then they hired me on to help more formally. And so I think that's still, obviously, I'm still learning and growing from that standpoint, but I absolutely love it. [00:33:59] Sean: You mentioned earlier in our conversation that you're on the sidelines at the know, volleyball, football, basketball. How do you approach your work with the athletes and UC athletics versus your clinical work with community members in the Cincinnati area? [00:34:19] Victoria: I think sometimes it's different. Regardless of if it's a student athlete or if it's someone in the community, a lot of it is understanding what their goals are. Right. Like, if someone has a knee injury and they're coming up on a really important game. Right. And it's like having those discussions of, like, okay, do you want to push through this? And if you do, is it safe for you? And having that kind of risk benefit kind of discussion and then pursuing options. Right. Can we treat this? Can we do an injection? Can we try to help you be the best athlete that you can be for whatever your goals are? And I think that I have the same type of the discussions with people who come into clinic because sometimes people will be like, hey, I have this foot pain, but I've been training to run the marathon, and it's coming up in a week, and I'm going to run this marathon regardless what you tell me. And so it's really just having to have those discussions with people and what their goals are. And I never want to just tell someone like you unless it's really dangerous, but I want to have those risk benefit discussions and having those patients having that informed decision making ability for themselves, but then me helping them become the best athlete that they can be and be safe. And so it's really a lot of discussions, I'll say that much. [00:35:38] Sean: And do you get to work, I'm assuming, with the coaches and the team trainers and things like that? How do you develop those relationships? Because maybe they want that player to play, but it's not in their best interest. How do you navigate those kind of relationships and dynamics? [00:35:53] Victoria: Yes. So the athletic trainers are incredible, and we work with them a lot because they're kind of our main point of contact a lot. And the athletes really trust them and have that relationship. They're seeing them every day and they're working with them. So a lot of times the communications will be with myself and the athletic trainer be like, hey, I need you to check out this athlete for their knee. And that's normally like our first point of contact. And based on the decision, a lot of the times it's the athlete, myself and the athletic trainer all kind of discussing. Sometimes the coaches will be involved, but they're not normally until the next step. The initial thing is from the medical side of things where the trainer, the athlete, myself, and then if we need to talk to the coach, if we need to have that discussion again, a lot of it is risk, benefit, and be like, I understand you really want them to play, but we need them to be better so they can play for the next step or the next phase. And so a lot of it, I think, is just building the relationships and having them trust you because they've gotten to know you and then just having that open communication and just being open and honest. And I always try to explain my reasoning and what is going through my mind because I feel like even if it's word vomit or even if it's just me spewing out words, at least they're understanding why I'm making those decisions or why I'm thinking this way. And I think that's worked for me in a lot of ways. But I think it's like if people can understand where I'm coming from and they can understand my thought process, I think that helps a lot. [00:37:30] Sean: Now, you talked also about devices and helping folks who maybe they're an amputee or they need some other kind of adaptive equipment in order to participate in sports or fishing or any other kind of physical activity. So what are the kind of things that you're working on in that space with the devices, because that's what drew you to medicine in the first place. So what's kind of on the horizon in that space that you can share? Obviously, we're not looking for proprietary things that aren't patented yet and all, but give us some exciting things that you're doing. [00:38:06] Victoria: That's exactly what you said. That's what kind of drew me to medicine, and I found that in medical school. But my real passion is definitely the adaptive sports equipment. I think the most exciting days for me are when I get to work with an adaptive athlete and when I could hand them a piece of equipment, and then they get to play their sport or do their activity, and they never thought that that was possible again. And I think that's just the most meaningful thing for me. And the most exciting thing and an example that really sticks out to me is I had a college age girl who unfortunately had a stroke and had weakness on her left side, and she came to me. But part of something else that I do is sometimes patients will come to me and say, like, hey, I would love to do this sport again. How can we do that? And so she wanted to play golf again. Her whole family golfed. It was something they all like to do. And so we basically worked with some other engineers and myself making a device that she could wear on her hands that could help grip the club. And then what was so exciting was giving it to her. And then she sent me a video of her swinging a golf club again and actually being able to hit a ball. And I think those are, like, the most exciting things for me is just seeing and again, using the engineering and using the teamwork from the physician side, but also the engineering side and giving something to someone and then just that smile. I think those are the days that I really live for. So exciting things that we're working on are kind of anything you can think of. Something now we're working on is for adaptive skiing. So we do adaptive skiing out here, and we're working on a device for people who can stand and ski. And so trying to work some of the engineering students that are working with me on that. And so hopefully, it's cold out right now, but there's no snow, but hopefully in the next couple of weeks, we can be out in the snow and start testing it. So there's a lot of things on the horizon, but I love it. That's my favorite part. [00:40:15] Sean: That's awesome. Now, Victoria, what stills could scholar who are interested in doing something similar to you, whether that's as an engineer, specifically as a physician or kind of in that orbit of sports medicine, rehabilitation. What can they be doing now as a Schreyer scholar to set themselves up for success 510 years down the road in this field? [00:40:37] Victoria: I think if you're interested in sports medicine, adaptive sports medicine, Penn State, they do have some adaptive sports teams up in the state college area. And I think even if you're just interested, just wanting to know what adaptive sports looks like, like sled hockey, for example. Some people who maybe have to sit to play hockey, that's called. They use sled hockey. I think that's up in state college, but there's a lot of different opportunities just to see it. Even if you just go to watch a game, it's really cool, and at least it gives you the exposure. But even if you're interested, a lot of those teams and adaptive sports need volunteers. And so I think that's just a way to get exposure. And I think if you're just interested in general in sports medicine, I think looking for big events, they always need volunteers, whether it's with working marathons. I know, like Cincinnati, for example, we have the big flying pig marathon. And so I know it's really common and easy way for students just to volunteer. Regardless if you're handing out medals or just helping organize things as a medical tent, you really just get that exposure. And just to see if you like it, I think that's a huge thing, is just being around, being around sports medicine, being around sporting events, being around adaptive sporting events, and just seeing if you like it. And if you are interested, I think that's a good way to start. [00:42:07] Sean: And a shameless plug. Not affiliated with any of these, but if you're in state college in the summer, there's obviously typically the Special Olympics here. In the summer, there's the Happy Valley triathlon, Iron man, something. I don't remember the exact name. You can look it up. We had it last summer. I know it's happening again. So great opportunities. If you're here in the summer or wherever you call home during the summer, I'm sure there's plenty of opportunities, too. [00:42:30] Victoria: Yes, most major cities now have adaptive sports programs, which are, in most major cities, have marathons and things like that. So there's always opportunities to volunteer. [00:42:42] Sean: Well, perfect segue there with volunteering. So in addition to being a faculty member, a clinical physician, working on the sidelines for the UC athletics, you also managed to find time to start a nonprofit that leverages your expertise. So walk us through the whole thing. Like, why? How? Navigating, red tape, 501 C, three s, all that stuff, and what you're working on in that space outside of your day job. [00:43:15] Victoria: My colleagues and I, or they're honestly some of my best friends, but we had realized that we were all. This was before COVID actually. So a couple of years ago, we were all kind of starting to meet each other in the Cincinnati area, and we were all interested in adaptive sports. And, you know, I was really focusing more on the equipment side of things, and some of my friends were more working on helping start teams and helping start opportunities, but we were all noticing that we're all interested in kind of doing our own thing, but they all overlapped. And I just remember saying, like, this is silly. Why don't we all just work together? I feel like five brains are better than one, and it makes sense just to combine forces. And so then we started meeting and developed our nonprofit. It's called the bridge adaptive sports and recreation. And then COVID happened, and the shutdown happened. Now, I still had to work as a physician. However, a lot of other things were obviously closed, and so we had a lot of time for virtual meetings. And the reason I bring that up is because we had a lot of time to do our bylaws and work on the paperwork and work on the filing for the nonprofit status, and I took a large role in that part. And let me tell you, I wanted to pull out my hair many times because that paperwork was ridiculous. And I swear it was like a 60 page instruction manual how to fill out a 40 page application, and I don't want to ever do that again. But we did it. We successfully made it. And then after everything, after the shutdown ended, luckily, the bridge has continued to grow in the area, and so we're kind of the central hub for all the active sports in this area, and there's a lot of teams that we're partners with, and then we've started a lot of our own programming in the area. And so our big goal is we just want anything to be possible. And it doesn't have to be easy. It just has to be possible. That's what we say. And so we just want to bring as much opportunities for anyone, any person with any abilities to find their sport or their recreation and just make that possible for them. So we have a lot of fun activities out here, a lot of teams. [00:45:38] Sean: And I imagine that if you end up in Cincinnati and you're interested in this, great way to plug in, and I'm sure there's probably similar groups in other cities that are doing similar work. But that is really cool. Victoria, thanks. [00:45:53] Victoria: I think that's like I was saying earlier, my excitement when I get to see people do a sport that they maybe thought wasn't possible and give them that piece of equipment. I think similarly, I get so excited when we have an event. For example, we do like the adaptive skiing, I was saying, or we were doing some adaptive soccer and seeing the people come and they're like, oh my gosh, I found my sport. And just being able. That's another time that I just get so excited because it's like, that's exactly what we were trying to do, right? We wanted to build that sense of community and we wanted people to find their sport and find the activity that they want to do. And that's what I love to do. [00:46:36] Sean: You're helping people. Where do you see your field in this space with adaptive medicine in ten years from now? [00:46:44] Victoria: Yeah, I think adaptive sports medicine specifically is certainly getting more popular and I think a lot of the research now is looking at a lot of common injuries and we want to be able to prevent those injuries. But what I'm excited about is I think now we're starting to look at equipment and how can we modify equipment or build better equipment to help reduce injuries. And that's something we're definitely starting and I think that's definitely where the field will be going, which will be awesome because we have to look at all athletes regardless of abilities. And there's a lot of research, I think, with certain sports, but I think we're definitely expanding now in a lot of the adaptive sports teams, paralympic teams and things like that. So we'll be able to looking at their injuries and how can we prevent them from happening? [00:47:36] Sean: Definitely that makes sense. The best way to help an injury is to make sure it doesn't happen in the first place, right? [00:47:42] Victoria: Yeah, exactly. And I think we see that in a lot of different sports and all the research know what different protective equipment can we do to prevent? So there's just so much that we can continue to learn and continue to research. [00:47:58] Sean: Absolutely. As somebody who is a football fan, I've seen a lot of the public discourse between the NFL and the NFLPA, for example, about the playing surfaces. Even something as simple as like are you playing on grass or synthetic? And even the different types of synthetic and how that impacts injuries. So be curious to see where that ends up going. [00:48:15] Victoria: Yes. Not even the equipment, but just what they're playing on it makes a huge difference. Yes. So I think in sports medicine in general and adaptive sports medicine, there's so much we don't know. [00:48:26] Sean: Well, I'm glad that we have folks like you who are figuring this out so that everybody can participate in these activities. Now, obviously, you've probably picked up. I'm no expert on any of this. You are. So what are the things I should have asked you in our conversation today that I just didn't know because I'm not a physician? Or maybe another way to ask this question is what are some questions you often get from your med students or your residents that would be helpful to talk about here towards the tail end? [00:48:56] Victoria: I think some questions I think sometimes medical students will ask. So if you're a student listening and you're considering medicine, I think a lot of different specialties can get you to sports medicine. I think that mitless is what makes it unique and makes it interesting. So a lot of different specialties can choose to do fellowship in sports medicine. And I think a lot of the students will ask. I think each specialty brings its own perks and benefits and strengths. And I think that's what's been really interesting to see because a lot of my colleagues are not from PM R background. Some of them are from emergency medicine background or family medicine or internal medicine background or pediatrics. And it's just so nice to all work together because, again, we all have our own strengths and our own kind of way we approach things and our own training. And so I think just keep that in mind. If you're going into medicine, that you are going to be working on teams with people with many different backgrounds. But that's what makes it stronger. That's what makes it better. And you never are going to know everything. And so I really like when I have people around me that I can ask questions to and that I can work with. But I do think that's like a common question, like how do I get to sports medicine or how do I become a sports medicine doctor? And the answer is there's a lot of different ways and there's no right way. All of them are great. And you're going to work with people with tons of different backgrounds, and that's what makes it really cool. [00:50:30] Sean: Great. Now we're going to do our kind of wrap up reflective questions here. Victoria, so here's a chance to brag. What would you say is your biggest success to date so far? [00:50:40] Victoria: I think where I find the biggest success is I do think starting and being a co founder of the bridge adaptive sports and recreation just because it's something so different. I never thought I would start a nonprofit, and I think that's what I'm probably most proud of, just because I can see firsthand how many people it impacts and how many people were getting out and getting active and finding friends and finding community. And so I think that's the thing I'm most proud of. And definitely my blood, sweat and tears went into it. And I think it's really awesome to see the outcomes of that and see where it's going because we're expanding much quicker than I expected. So it's a good problem to have, but I'm excited to see where that goes. [00:51:28] Sean: Great. But on the flip side, what would you say is the biggest transformational learning moment or mistake that you've had and what you've learned from it? [00:51:36] Victoria: I think something that sticks out is in medical school, you have to take several step exams, step one, two and three. And those exams are like the big exams, that your score helps you determine what type of special you can become and how competitive you are. And I remember currently, step one is only pass fail. But when I was in med school, it was like, you got a score. And that score really determined a lot of things. And I remember not, I passed the test, but I did not get a score that I wanted. And at the time, I think I felt like such a failure and I felt like I couldn't do maybe what I was worried. I was worried that it was going to limit me and I was worried that what's this going to affect my career and how am I going to overcome this? But I think being able to find the right mentors and kind of almost turning it as motivation and showing I'm not just a number, I'm not just a test score number and my application and me as a person is not just dependent on that number. And I think that took me a while to kind of overcome that. But I didn't let it define me. I think at first I did, for sure. I remember being really upset and really concerned and feeling like the world was ending, but finding the right people and the mentors to be like this doesn't define you and this is not going to end your career. But in that time, I think you obviously think of the worst case scenario. So I think just reflecting on that and it did not obviously inhibit my career, but at the time, in the moment, and I think that's really common. I remember having a similar moment to that in undergrad, too, with a grade in one of my engineering classes. And I think anyone who, students who are listening, I think that's easy to let your mind go to that place, but you are not just a test score and you're not just a grade, and it doesn't have to define you. [00:53:43] Sean: That is a really powerful insight, especially for the audience, for the show, our Schreyer scholars, where there is definitely that self expectation of excellence and it's okay to make some mistakes along the way. [00:53:56] Victoria: Yeah. And I think the best thing to write is finding someone that you trust, whether it's a professor or a counselor or a mentor, and to kind of help you kind of snap out of it. Right. And realize that this is not going to define the rest of my career, even though it truly feels like it in the moment. I know I definitely felt like that, but sometimes just having that kind of snap you out of it. [00:54:22] Sean: Now, Victoria, you've mentioned mentors quite a few times. It's how you said you approach your teaching is really in a mentorship style. But how do you specifically, what does mentorship mean to you? How do you find mentors, and how do you mentor those who are following in your footsteps? What kinds of advice do you have for students in this space, specifically? [00:54:42] Victoria: I think finding a mentor or even being. Or trying to. I'm not. Definitely not perfect, but me trying to be a mentor, something I always try to approach it is being just open and honest and even vulnerable at times, because I think there was a moment, I think probably residency or maybe even med school or residency, where I think you're always expected, like you even just said, like, excellence, right? Or you think people assume that you're supposed to know everything and you're supposed to be right all the time. And I remember just having this moment being like, well, I'm just going to start being honest. I'm worried about this, or I don't know this answer, or I don't know how to do this. And this was hard for me at first, but this is how I figured it out. And I think that's where I try to approach when I'm mentoring or teaching is just being very honest about this was really hard for me, and this is how I overcame this. Or I don't know this answer. I had to look it up, or when I was learning to do this. This part was not easy. And I think I always look for that in a mentor as well. And that's why I try to do that as well, because I think it's easier to relate to someone when they're just honest and they don't have the answers to everything or they don't have it all figured out. And I think that's how you can relate to people and really get through and be able to kind of build that relationship. [00:56:10] Sean: Are there any of those mentors, professors, friends from your days on campus, perhaps Sarah, who you mentioned earlier that you want to give a shout out to here at the end of the show? [00:56:21] Victoria: Definitely. Sarah Summers. She is one of my best friends and mentor for, you know, I think just even in Schreyer, Dean Brady was the dean for me when I was there, and he was one of my mentors. And I think just even being able to have that relationship was incredibly helpful and someone I felt like I could talk to if I had questions. And so definitely obviously met him because of Shire. And so I think you have so many people that you can meet and talk to which you wouldn't necessarily get if you were not in Shire. [00:56:56] Sean: Fantastic. Now, as we're wrapping up our time, can you leave us with a final piece of advice for students to make the most of their time at Penn state, at Shrier, in med school? Leave us with one final piece of. [00:57:10] Victoria: Wisdom, piece of wisdom that someone gave me, and I really try to stick onto this, but as you are deciding, maybe if you're going to a career or if you're going to postgraduate school or med school, law school, or whatever you're doing, or when you become a doctor and you're trying to figure out what specialty to choose, someone told me that you can be as objective as you want, and I like to be objective. I like to have spreadsheets and scoring systems. But that gut reaction of, if you feel like, hey, I kind of found my people, or I feel like I fit in and that's stayed with me. And I would say, I think there's something to be said about that initial reaction and your gut reaction to something, because if you feel like you fit in and you found your people, that's great because you're going to spend a lot of hours a day at work and you want to be happy with the people around you and you don't want to be miserable. So I think I've really kept that in a lot of stages of my life and be like, oh, I had this good feeling and I felt good vibes. I know that's kind of lame to say, but it really makes a difference because you want to have fun at work and you want to enjoy your time and you want to be surrounded by positive people and people that support you and lift you up. And so I think, hang on to that. Whatever you're deciding, next steps, I think that's a huge thing to look for. [00:58:37] Sean: That is really important advice. Victoria, the vibes absolutely do matter. You're around your colleagues almost as much, if not even more, than your family and friends. So it is crucial to be around people that you like and feel comfortable with. So excellent point. How can scholars, if they want to continue this conversation and pick your brain further, how can they connect with you? [00:59:03] Victoria: I would love that. Probably the easiest way is on Instagram. You could always direct message me, then I can email or whatever, but I have a professional Instagram. It's adaptive sports doc, and so just adaptive sports doc, but also LinkedIn. Victoria Heasley, on LinkedIn, I feel like those things are very easy for me to actually see quickly, message wise. [00:59:31] Sean: Awesome meeting the students right where they're at between LinkedIn and Instagram. I love it. Now, finally, the hardest question I have for you today. If you were a flavor of Berkeley creamery ICE cream, Victoria, which would you be? And as a scholar, alumna, most importantly, why would you be that flavor? [00:59:47] Victoria: So I knew this question was coming, and I really thought a lot about it, and I looked at all the flavors, and I think what I've landed on is cookies and cream, and partially because I do love the flavor, but the reason I think it's good is because it's kind of vanilla ICE cream, right? So I feel like, sometimes I feel like I'm kind of vanilla boring, but then there's a little bit of pizzazz in there with the chunks. And so that's why I think I'm cookies and cream. [01:00:15] Sean: Self awareness is important, and I think you've zeroed in on knowing yourself. Right. I think that's a great choice and a good rationale for your flavor. I don't know if we've had any cookies and cream before. I think you think 60 some episodes in. I think you may be the first one. I'll have to go back and excellent and check, but I think you may be the first one to claim, like, a staple flavor. So kudos. [01:00:37] Victoria: Thanks. [01:00:38] Sean: Dr. Victoria Heasley joined us from Cincinnati, Ohio, today here on following the gone. I learned a lot about sports medicine, adaptive medicine, helping everybody, being able to participate in the physical activities and the sports and games that they want to. If you didn't know a lot of these things before, I hope you similarly learned something, too. I appreciate all of your insights and taking the time to join us virtually from the city that brought us our former quarterback, Sean Clifford. Rep one more sports reference here for us. So appreciate your time and all of your great insight today. [01:01:12] Victoria: Thanks for having me. And please, anyone listening, please feel free to reach out. Always happy to answer questions.

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