Dr. Kristen Davidge '97, Alumni of Distinction Award Recipient 2013

"The beauty of the school is the relationships you forge with your teachers. It was something very special and unique. They opened our eyes to so much more than the subject at hand.”

Kristen Davidge laughs at the irony that a hand surgeon helped to open her eyes to the difference she could make in people's lives. Kristen was a University of Toronto medical student on track to a career in pediatrics, when a mandatory plastic surgery rotation paved the way for an unexpected, award-winning career.

"I fell in love with the complexity of it. Plastic surgery is meticulous and you can both improve function and quality of life through what you're doing."

Kristen's passion for all things scientific took root at TFS, where teachers like Leslie Barton and Asif Khan "gave me a real leg up" in undergraduate life sciences study at Queen's University. After medical school, she combined a seven-year plastic surgery residency with a Master's degree in clinical epidemiology, both at the University of Toronto. She earned accolades for her skills and promise at every level of training. Of her many awards, Kristen is most proud of the Shafie S. Fazel Outstanding Resident Surgeon and Investigator Award, presented at the completion of her plastic surgery residency last year. "It recognizes the soft skills that are hard to teach, but matter most in a doctor — honesty, integrity, compassion and respect."

These same skills factor in her current role: Kristen is completing a year-long fellowship at Washington University of St. Louis. In June, she will join U of T as a plastic surgeon and clinical researcher, specializing in hand and peripheral nerve surgery.

Balancing career and family has been "very challenging," she says. Above all else, she values time spent with her husband and friends, doing the things she loves most — being active outdoors, reading and exploring new restaurants.

"I'm very proud of what I've accomplished in my career, but life outside my career defines me even more than the career itself."