Job Title: Surgical Design Simulationist, Institute for Reconstructive Sciences in Medicine
Why She’s Top 40: She’s using innovative technology to improve the outlooks for patients suffering from diseases affecting their heads and necks.
If you could change one thing about Edmonton, what would it be?: “Accepting people the way they are and giving everybody opportunities that they deserve. I mean, I think we do that a little, but I think we could improve on that and do that more. Just giving people more of an open-minded chance and opportunity. I’d like Edmontonians to be more understanding and compassionate toward one another.”
Heather Logan uses software and 3D printers to design patient-specific guides and to simulate surgeries. Her work gives surgeons a better idea of what to expect when they’re tackling difficult cases relating to the head or neck.
“It makes the whole procedure more predictable,” Logan says. “It gives them a lot more confidence going into the OR.”
When Logan was finishing up her bachelor of design degree at the University of Alberta, she did a practicum at the Institute for Reconstructive Sciences in Medicine (iRSM). Logan, who worked as a community support worker for several years, had a passion for helping others, and her practicum gave her a peek at what a career in medical design might look like.
When she decided to pursue her master’s degree in rehabilitation science, Logan was the first student at the University of Alberta – ever – to specialize in surgical design and simulation. “I didn’t know what I was getting into,” she says. She admits that she contemplated taking a different path but, at the end of the day, it was all worth it. “It was a risk, but it definitely brought a great reward.”
After graduating, Logan began in the clinic at the iRSM, interacting closely with patients as she created and fit facial prosthetics. Her job description has changed over the years, moving more towards research and surgical design. “I don’t see the direct impact on the patient as much, but I know that, behind the computer screen, there’s a patient,” she says.
By virtue of being the first to graduate from her particular program, Logan has also taken on a mentorship role. As an adjunct assistant professor at the U of A, she teaches students who are currently in the master’s program that she took. She also was recently part of a team that hosted delegates from Chile, China and the United States who were learning about a surgical technique developed at the iRSM.
“We just had our second graduate finish, and she and I worked really closely together,” she says. “So that’s really exciting, to see someone else go through the program successfully.”