Sept. 10, 2016

Juggling science and surgery

From small town Saskatchewan to the operating room
Dr. Prism Schneider
Orthopaedic surgeon and McCaig Institute Member Dr. Prism Schneider Don Molyneaux

Orthopaedic trauma surgeon Prism Schneider learned to juggle priorities while growing up in rural Saskatchewan. In addition to school, she participated in a variety of sports - but she especially loved ski racing. “My dad would drive me seven hours one way from our home in Shaunavon, Saskatchewan to train in Banff on weekends,” says Schneider. “It was busy, for sure – but I loved it.”

Her love of sports inspired Schneider to take physiotherapy and then kinesiology at McGill University. But it was during her time as a summer student in the gait lab at the University of Calgary she truly discovered her passion. “We were doing some clinical trials, and I thought ‘wouldn’t it be amazing to be the surgeon that’s doing the surgical intervention for these patients, and studying it before and after?’ And then somehow I ended up in medical school!” In fact, Schneider obtained both her PhD and MD from the University of Calgary, and then went on to complete her orthopaedic residency training, followed by two fellowships in orthopaedic trauma.

Today, Schneider spends half her time performing surgery and treating orthopaedic trauma cases, and the other half doing research on how inflammation affects fracture healing and an individual’s risk of developing blood clots or excessive bleeding. Some of this work is done in a lab, using a pre-clinical model to study joint injury and inflammation. But most of her research involves leading clinical trials to find better medications and surgical treatments to control inflammation and optimize healing after injury. “My goal at the end of the day is just to provide the best possible care for patients, so that we can achieve uncomplicated fracture healing.”

As both a clinician and a researcher, Schneider’s days are very, very busy. “It’s a challenge to juggle it all, but the environment in the McCaig Institute is really supportive,” says Schneider. “Being both a scientist and a surgeon lets me answer questions that will not only take care of the patient right in front of me, but will hopefully help a lot of patients on a more global scale.”