Faculty Spotlight – Andrea Simmonds

Clinical Instructor


Vancouver – BC Children’s Hospital

Andrea Simmonds is a UBC Orthopaedics Clinical Instructor based out of BC Children’s Hospital. Her research interests center around quality-improvement initiatives. Her hope is that we can continue to evolve in our understanding of effective data collection and what matters most to patients, to improve the way we approach Orthopaedic care.

Can you share a little bit about your educational background and journey, and how you got to where you are today?

To say I’ve taken an unorthodox career path would be a huge understatement. I did Medical school at Memorial University in Newfoundland, then came to Vancouver to complete my Orthopaedics Residency at UBC. While here, I met and married my husband Dinesh, a Urologist who was born and raised in Vancouver.

I moved to Los Angeles for an adult spine fellowship at Cedar-Sinai Medical Centre that focused on minimally invasive deformity correction. The end of this fellowship marked three years of long distance, as Dinesh completed a 2-year fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic at the end of my residency. We were looking to start a family and he had just started his job at Surrey Memorial Hospital. I reached out to the group at BC Children’s Hospital to see if they would take me on for a Paediatric spine fellowship, and thankfully they agreed.

A couple months into the BCCH fellowship, I had a real lightbulb moment where I realized that Paediatric spine, and specifically Paediatric spine at BCCH was the career I desperately wanted. I stayed on to do a second year of fellowship and start UBC Master of Health Science courses. Fast forward through a couple of kids, a two-year stint as a clinical associate for the BCCH spine team, finishing the MHSc, and completing locums at both Surrey Memorial Hospital and BCCH… and I finally have signed on as a permanent member of the BCCH Orthopaedics team!

What inspired you to work in orthopaedics, specifically pediatric orthopaedics?

My home province of New Brunswick had a program where we could return home for paid shadowing experiences during the summer months between pre-clerkship years. I asked to shadow a general surgeon and an obstetrician, but much to my initial dismay, was placed with an Orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Dickinson. After one day in the OR with him, I was hooked and honestly never looked back.

I fell in love with spine surgery as a second-year resident, during my VGH spine rotation. It wasn’t until my BCCH fellowship that I realized how preferable Paediatric patients are, compared to adults. They are physiologically so much better able to tolerate big deformity surgeries, often quite sassy, and almost universally cuter.

What impact would you like to see your work have on patients, communities and society at large?

My research interests center around quality improvement initiatives. I have a couple exciting projects in the works that I hope will change the way we provide care, with a focus on data-driven approaches to initiate system change, and patient-centered care. It has been great to collaborate with colleagues at VGH; hopefully we will have a transitional care clinic for spine patients up and running soon. My hope is that we continue to evolve in our understanding of what matters to patients, effective data collection, and use of this knowledge to improve the way we approach Orthopaedic care.

What excites you most about your work? What are you most proud of?

At the risk of sounding cliché, I think the incredible team at BC Children’s Hospital is the reason I look forward to work every day, and I’m proud of my role within that team. It is amazing to see how everyone comes together to improve patient care. The department has been expanding recently, and the addition of allied health professionals has had a palpable impact.

What is one piece of advice that you’d like to give to current trainees?

Follow your heart when it comes to your career, and figure out the details later. Maybe that’s actually terrible advice… but it eventually worked for me!

When you’re not working, where can we find you?

Chasing after our kids, who are 5 and 6 years old. We became the over-scheduling parents I vowed never to be. There always seems to be a music lesson or some sport on the go most days of the week. Now that they are a bit more self-sufficient, we’ve been trying to travel (with and without them) whenever we can get away.

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