Chelsea L. Powell, M.D.

  • Surgical Outcomes Research Fellow, 2023-2025
  • General Surgery Resident

What moment or experience in your life influenced your decision to be a surgeon?

I had no experience in surgery prior to medical school and never anticipated pursuing it as a career. My interest in the specialty was sparked by my experience on my surgical rotation as a third-year medical student. I realized nearly immediately that it was a good fit for me. I was attracted to the balance between surgery and medicine. In particular, I was drawn to the ability to fix specific problems with an operation while still requiring the medical knowledge to care for patients having surgery in the intensive care unit and the floor.

Why did you choose Mayo Clinic to pursue your career?

I was so happy to land at Mayo Clinic for my surgical training. The breadth of pathology, resources for research and emphasis on education make it a perfect place to launch my career.

What motivated you to become a Surgical Outcomes Research Fellow in the Mayo Clinic Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery?

As I started my residency, I began to gain a deeper appreciation for how research and data drive clinical decision-making. Being able to both understand and contribute to the body of evidence that underlies these decisions is important to me. I view my time with the center as integral to my development as a surgeon, complementing my clinical training.

What is your research focus in this fellowship program?

My research focus is thoracic surgery.

How will your research improve patient care or positively affect public health?

I hope that my work with the Mayo Clinic Kern Center for Health Care Delivery will contribute to the existing literature used to make decisions on a patient level. I also hope that during my time with the center, I will develop the tools to continue investigating these questions throughout my career; in this way, the center's contribution to improving patient care will extend far beyond the two years of my fellowship.

Who are your mentors for this program and why did you select them?

My three mentors are Sahar Saddoughi, M.D., Ph.D., and Dennis Wigle, M.D., Ph.D., both thoracic surgeons, and Elizabeth B. Habermann, Ph.D., from the Mayo Clinic Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery. The thoracic surgeons will provide guidance in identifying and framing clinically relevant questions. Dr. Habermann and her health care delivery and surgical outcomes research team have an impressive amount of experience and expertise in the process of using available data to answer these questions. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from all three.