Taking care of people and a dedication to health care is a family affair for Dr. Danielle Bischof. The daughter of an intensive care nurse, Danielle is a surgical oncologist as well as the Education Site Lead for the General Surgery Residency Program at Mount Sinai Hospital.
“Watching my mom care for people was really formative. I loved hearing her stories from the hospital,” says Danielle. “Then, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and melanoma when I was eight years old, it sparked in interest in health care and helping others.”
Danielle’s early training included medical school and a general surgery residency at the University of Toronto, followed by a clinical and research fellowship in surgical oncology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. While there, she obtained a Masters in Health Sciences in Clinical Investigation from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Heath – an experience she calls “phenomenal.”
After joining Mount Sinai Hospital in 2014 first as a clinical associate, Danielle was named Staff Surgeon in July 2020. Danielle specializes in cytoreductive surgery and hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy, known as HIPEC surgery. HIPEC is a heated chemotherapy solution delivered directly into the abdomen during cancer surgery. This is an advanced, complex procedure used for patients with cancers of the appendix, colon, or peritoneal mesothelioma that have spread to the abdominal lining. Mount Sinai is the only hospital in Ontario that offers this procedure.
“Working with patients with cancer has been very rewarding to me. I often get to build long-term relationships with my patients over time, and I love to work with my hands – it’s gratifying to do surgery and have patients feeling at least somewhat better immediately.”
In her role as Education Site Lead, Danielle continues to share her knowledge and experience by doing everything from giving new residents a tour of the facilities to ensuring that the rotation meets the residents’ learning goals. “This year has been especially interesting as the COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot in regards to teaching and learning. In addition to in-person learning, we meet over Zoom to give residents opportunities to ask questions, and ensure they are coping well with strenuous demands under new conditions,” says Danielle. “I love working with the residents. I always learn new things from them and I’m proud when I hear residents describe their surgical rotation at Mount Sinai as a highlight of their residency training.”
It’s not just residents who are inspired by Danielle’s commitment to serving patients. At the age of eight, her oldest daughter has also found that same spark for health care. “She tells me she wants to be a surgeon, too. She wants to be my assistant and come and work with me. My three daughters all like the idea that I help people at work.”
Beyond her family, and work with patients and residents, Danielle’s eyes also light up when discussing another topic – singing. “After medical school, a fellowship, residency and having kids, I knew I needed to do something that was just for me.” Danielle joined Voices Rock Medicine, a choir made up of female physicians, as a creative as a fun outlet and a way to connect socially with her peers. Their video for “Rise Again,” an ode to health care professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic, was broadcast nationally, and went viral in April 2020.