Faces of Science: Dr. Alyssa Cole
Faces of Science: Dr. Alyssa Cole
AmorSui’s “Faces of Science” Campaign features women scientists with their own unique shapes, sizes, and stories to encourage current women and future generations in STEM fields to feel comfortable in their skin and empowered to discover the next big thing.
Today we are featuring Dr. Alyssa Cole, @doctor.cole, a physician based in Philadelphia who is specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation while pursuing her MBA. You can learn more about her efforts to share her knowledge on medicine, wellness, and food through her lifestyle blog Daily Dose of Vita.
Describe your current role and where you work.
I am a doctor specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation. This medical specialty strives to enhance and restore functional ability and quality of life for patients. We are the doctors known as physiatrists that oversee medical management of those with impairments and disabilities such as spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, stroke, as well as neurologic and musculoskeletal disorders. We work closely with physical, occupational, speech, and respiratory therapists to provide a multi-disciplinary team approach to healthcare. Starting in July I will be the first Cancer Rehabilitation fellow physician in Philadelphia.
What attracts you to medicine?
I always knew I wanted to be a doctor. Initially I was interested in dermatology because I loved how the skin could tell a person’s story as if revealing a map of their life. However in my second year of medical school I did a preceptorship at a rehabilitation facility. There I saw the power of physical medicine and rehabilitation when I watched a patient who, a month prior could not stand, was able to walk across the room to hug her family. I wanted to give back to the community and help my patients by improving their function and quality of life.
What motivates you to continue to work in medicine?
My patients are my motivation. I am able to play an active role in helping my patients overcome challenges and see beyond their disease process. As a cheerleader at heart, my job allows me to continue playing that part and encourage them on a daily basis.
What is your career aspiration? What do you want to do next?
In addition to fulfilling my role as a physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor specializing in Cancer Rehabilitation, I am interested in both education and administration. With so much misinformation online, I hope to use my clinical knowledge to provide accurate medical information through social media @doctor.cole and on my blog Daily Dose of Vita. My MBA has also taught me a lot about the business side of healthcare and I want to be a voice for doctors in that area.
What is the last accomplishment you celebrated?
My biggest accomplishment to date has been my acceptance into our city’s first Cancer Rehabilitation program. I am excited to be a trailblazer in this medical field as the first Cancer Rehabilitation Fellow Physician of Philadelphia and pave the way for others to follow.
Tell me something you think is strange about you.
Aside from the fact that I can’t whistle, people find it strange and interesting that I was able to compete in Miss America state and local pageants during medical school to help pay for my tuition.
If you could choose a superpower what would it be?
I wish that I could time travel. As a Classics major in college, I visited all the ruins around Greece and Italy, which was an unforgettable experience that helped bring what I read and learned about in my courses to life. Having a first-hand perspective on what the civilizations were like at the time would be the next best thing. It would be great to travel to other time periods as well and share in the excitement of major scientific discoveries or even be in two places at once.
Could you describe your wardrobe?
When not in scrubs I tend to wear layers, mostly because the temperature changes depending on where I’m working. You’ll often see my in pastels and a cardigan along with the traditional Patagonia jacket. This is a residency must because of all the pockets to store our equipment.
Do you have a dress code at work?
Right now we are all mainly wearing scrubs but in general it’s business attire with our white coat.
What outfits would you normally wear when you need to look nice for presentations or talks?
I love wearing cap sleeve dresses to accentuate my shoulders or Audrey Hepburn inspired tops. They give me the confidence and composure to speak anywhere whether it’s a room full of doctors or a crowd of onlookers at a medical conference.
What advice would you give to women to dress more appropriately or professionally?
I would tell women to wear what makes them feel most confident. But more importantly I would say: Focus on how you carry yourself. With the right posture and stance, your body language can shape who you are and how you come across to an audience.