Welcome to Corner Stitch, a brand new section by and for trainees. First up is outgoing Vascular Specialist residents and fellows editor Laura Marie Drudi, MD, who introduces this monthly column with a retrospective on her time representing medical students, residents and fellows in these pages. She takes us on a journey through her years as a trainee, and explains how she found her writing voice.
To the Vascular Specialist community:
It has been such a tremendous honor to serve this community through my position as a trainee editor since 2014. You all have seen the range of my writing—from opinion to creative and reflective pieces—as I matured from a young trainee to a fellow. It is now time to seek new voices for Vascular Specialist as I transition into a new role from trainee to faculty.
I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on these past eight years with a community I have come to call family. In 2014, I was deeply humbled at meeting Russell Samson, MD, at a local Canadian meeting in our nation’s capital, Ottawa. As one of the few young trainees at the meeting, and somewhat timid, I got up the courage to go introduce myself to our keynote lecturer, Dr. Samson. I am ever so grateful to my younger self for taking that leap of faith just to say “hello”—that young Laura Drudi had no idea of the journey that was to follow.
I am immensely indebted to Dr. Samson, who took me under his wing and onboard his vision for Vascular Specialist, which grew to become the official newspaper of the Society for Vascular Surgery, and the publication you now know today. He later passed the baton on to the current medical editor, Malachi Sheahan III, MD. Both these editors have guided and mentored me through my writing, and given me the space to grow and be creative. From my very first piece, “Life as a hospital bed,” to my last as a trainee, “A healing touch,” I hope my words, intentionally crafted, transported you all into my world as I navigated and discovered myself in the process.
I have always had a love for writing, and found solace and peace in expressing myself through my handwritten stream of words. I believe my true voice has always been the words fashioned into reflections and stories—some of which have made it into print, and others that are not yet ready to be shared.
Growing as a writer in Vascular Specialist has opened doors through networking with fellow writers, editors, and vascular surgeons from across the world. I found strength and leadership through my crafted words. Looking back, initially I was always stronger with a pen-to-paper approach, and, if I was being honest, I hid behind my written words.
But Vascular Specialist enabled me to grow as a writer and as a person, and I also found strength and confidence in my own spoken voice through that process. Through the years, Vascular Specialist has heard my unique voice through my own lived experiences, but I hope the trials and tribulations I experienced, and the lessons I learned along the way, resonated with readers and guided you from afar. Before I take my leave, I wanted to share some final wisdoms and lessons learned as a trainee.
First, training is hard. Treat it like a marathon, or a half-Iron(wo)man in my situation—a challenge in which I also consciously and intentionally chose to (foolishly) partake. However, similar to my half-Ironman training, residency required training like an athlete (nurturing body, mind and soul). Take care of your whole self because no one else will do it for you. Second, no matter what you think, you aren’t alone in the struggles you are experiencing. Lean on people you trust inside or outside of your institution, and create a community of people like-minded and spirited.
And, finally, be patient. It took me a long time to learn this one, and I honestly don’t think I have learned it fully yet. Growing into the person and surgeon you will become will take time, and it requires patience. Going back to lesson one—life and training isn’t a sprint. And although it is great crossing the finish line and getting the medal, what matters most is what you invested in the process. Enjoy the process and have faith in it.
Alas, the time for change has arrived. It is long overdue that I pass my pen to a new person—and voice—for our new trainee section, Corner Stitch. However, you will be sure to find my whimsical stream of words in other pieces for Vascular Specialist, and I will continue to serve and mentor our future trainee editors. For all inquiries for this position, you can send an email to Dr. Sheahan. Thank you to the readers of Vascular Specialist for continuing to read my work and for supporting me through my journey. It has been an utmost pleasure.
Thank you all.
Laura Marie Drudi recently completed a limb salvage fellowship at Sint Blasius Hospital, Dendermonde, Belgium. She is now a vascular surgeon at Centre Hospitalier de L’Universite de Montréal, Canada.