Highlighting Golden Bears in Healthcare

Meet Dr. Ryan Turner ’08 (Biomedical Engineering)

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Dr. Ryan Turner, an endovascular neurosurgery fellow at the University of Buffalo Department of Neurosurgery (UBNS), is in the final year of his 19-year medical journey that all started at Western New England University when he was a Biomedical Engineering student. When asked why he chose WNE, Turner said, “my goal was always to be a neurosurgeon, and when selecting undergraduate programs, my parents encouraged me to pick a program that would allow me to gain employment if my dreams couldn’t become reality.” With that, it was a no-brainer to select WNE, “as it was the perfect match, with one of the best and most strenuous programs out there.”

Following his graduation from WNE, Turner completed his MD/PhD programs at West Virginia University (WVU), where he also began his neurosurgery residency in 2022. During his residency at WVU, Turner has been able to participate in the one-year in-fold fellowship. This fellowship at WVU opened the door for Turner to join UBNS and receive advanced training in cerebrovascular neurosurgery, both open and endovascular, specializing in minimally-invasive procedures, using catheters and wires to treat conditions such as brain aneurysms, carotid stenosis, ischemic strokes, and arteriovenous malformations.

Although Turner’s medical journey has been long, he reflects on his career and describes neurosurgery, and medicine in general, as “a team sport.” Due to the significance of his role, Turner speaks about the satisfaction he receives from “restoring patients’ functions in many cases, and experiencing the gratitude and relief of their loved ones.”

Turner is presently working on three different cutting-edge clinical trials through his fellowship at UBNS: CereVasc (eShunt) for treatment of communicating hydrocephalus using an endovascular shunt, the Command trial (Stentrode by Synchron) for treatment of paralysis through endovascular implantation of venous brain-computer interface, and the Thunder trial (Penumbra) for treatment of ischemic stroke using cyclic aspiration technology.

Meet Dr. Kim Phu ’18/OTD’21

Dr. Kim Phu is an occupational therapist specializing in hand therapy and rehabilitation. Phu helps people regain function of their hand, wrist, elbow, or shoulders after surgery, accidents, or cumulative disorders. As a hand therapist, she works very closely with orthopedic hand surgeons and primary care providers, providing pre- and post-op conservative care. She also provides care for upper-extremity conditions such as carpal tunnel, de Quervain’s, arthritis, and various tendinopathies.

A dual graduate of WNE, Phu discussed what inspired her to go into occupational therapy: “As a Health Science major at WNE, I genuinely enjoyed learning about anatomy and cellular pathways. I also enjoy interacting with others, enriching people’s lives, and getting to know others.” She added, “occupational therapy—specifically hand therapy allowed me to do both.”

Because the field of occupational therapy is so small, Phu places value on and encourages current students in the program to find mentors. Mentors in hand therapy have guided Phu both clinically and professionally, and she credits these mentors with her growth in the field. Similarly, she advises current students in the OTD program to “network as much as they can. It’s important to develop relationships with future colleagues, peers, and industry professionals. These relationships can be valuable sources of support, advice, and mentorship throughout your career.”

One of Phu’s most rewarding moments as a hand therapist is the appreciation that her patients have for her and the work that she does. “I’ve had many patients come back to visit me and thank me for the work I’ve done helping them regain use of their hand.” Using what she has learned at WNE, specifically in anatomy and compassionate care, Phu looks forward to continuing to provide hand care services to those in need.