You might not expect a music major to end up traveling the world working in medical facilities, but that’s exactly what Ariane Fielding (BA Music, ‘02) has done.
During her music program—she was the first and, she says, probably the last oboe major at Augustana—Ariane took prerequisites for medical school. She earned her MD degree in Calgary and then did an anesthesia residency at Dalhousie. Interspersed throughout those years of university was international work: Ariane worked at a mission hospital in Haiti, a long-term-care facility in Switzerland, a remote rural hospital in South Africa, and a medical school in Rwanda.
“Fifteen years ago, Rwanda had one anesthesiologist for 15 million people,” explains Ariane, who taught in a training program there in 2010. “The program aims to graduate a generation of Rwandan anesthesiologists who will train their own medical students.”
What drove her to work overseas? “As a recipient of a stellar education in Canada,” she says, “I wanted to give back by passing that knowledge along.” She plans to return to Rwanda, and she thinks the program will be transferable to other countries. “It’s a successful demonstration of how ‘intellectual aid’ rather than monetary aid can make a difference,” she says.
After completing a fellowship at the University of Alberta, Ariane continues to work as an anesthesiologist in Edmonton. “I feel a special responsibility to patients under my care," she says. “I’m the last thing they see before going to sleep, and the first thing when they come out of anaesthesia. The trust needed to put your life into someone's hands in a time of such intense vulnerability is a charge not to be taken lightly."
Thinking back, Ariane says, “Augustana prepared me for the real world, in a profound intellectual and philosophical way.” In her graduating year, she was awarded the Onesimus Award, which is awarded to students who are “the very heart” of Augustana. There's no question “heart” is what Ariane and her career are all about.