Keynote Speakers

Keynote Speakers

MedConnect will be featuring lectures from esteemed physicians,  successful residents, and a panel of medical students. Speakers and a short biography will be revealed periodically on this webpage as the event approaches.

Lectures from physicians will cover topics relevant for aspiring physicians challenging a modern medical world, such as the impact of COVID-19 on the medical community, the pathway to becoming a chief specialist, what their daily lives are like, and the hidden unknowns of their specific fields like surgery.

Our medical students from all across Canada will be sharing their unique perspectives on medicine as taught in various MD programs, having gone through both the rigorous application process and the daily lifestyle of a physician in training. Giving advice on the pathway to medicine, holding specially catered workshops, and inspiring their future colleagues, the medical student panel cannot wait to meet the motivated event attendees of MedConnect.

2020 Speaker Panel

Roberto TrasoliniDr. Rob Trasolini

Dr Rob Trasolini is an SFU and PhiDE alumnus. He is a board certified specialist in Internal Medicine and is currently in his final year of gastroenterology subspecialty training. He attended medical school at the University of British Columbia, Internal Medicine residency at Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria and now spends his time between St. Paul’s Hospital and Vancouver General Hospital. His passions in life include spending time with his partner and his two energetic toddlers. Professionally he is interested in advanced endoscopy and endoscopic innovation especially the evolving field of minimally invasive alternatives to surgery. He has held several leadership positions in medical school and beyond and considers it a privilege to teach medical students and residents. He very much remembers the challenge of getting into medical school.

MSnowDr. Matt Snow

Matt Snow is a first-year General Surgery Resident at Queen’s University. He is originally from Toronto, Ontario and there completed an undergraduate degree in Physiology and Human Biology at the University of Toronto. Afterwards Matt went on to do a Master’s Degree in sleep neuroscience also at the University of Toronto, investigating the brain circuitry underlying narcolepsy and cataplexy. Matt’s interest in surgery began during graduate school, where as part of his project he learned basic surgical principles and how to perform stereotaxic surgery. He explored this interest further in medical school at Queen’s University, developing a specific interest in General and Thoracic Surgery. Matt is also passionate about innovation in medicine and has pursued research involving lung transplantation and ex vivo lung perfusion, translating technology into surgical consultation, and restructuring the surgical pathway to improve postoperative outcomes. Matt has previously lectured and facilitated workshops at various undergraduate conferences and enjoys opportunities to mentor aspiring physicians. He is excited to participate in MedConnect this year!

craftDr. Alissa Craft

The Past, Present, and Future of Healthcare – Since 2017, Dr. Craft has served as a consultant in medical education focused on accreditation and curriculum development. From 2015 – 2017, Dr. Craft served as the Vice President of Accreditation at the American Osteopathic Association. In this role, she served as Secretary for the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA), the only accrediting agency for the 50 plus training locations for doctors of osteopathic medicine in the United States.
Prior to joining the American Osteopathic Association, Dr. Craft served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine. She has also served as the Director of Medical Education for a new GME program at Samaritan Health Services in Corvallis, OR and as Medical Director for an integrated health network at Samaritan Health Plans.
She completed her osteopathic medicine degree at the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine (now ATSU-KCOM) and her MBA at the University of Phoenix. She completed residency training at Phoenix Children’s Hospital and fellowship at the University of California, San Diego.

Stephanie TaraziStephanie Tarazi – Leading Pathway to Medicine

Stephanie was born and raised in the Lower Mainland and completed her Bachelor’s degree in Integrated Sciences at UBC. Throughout her undergraduate degree she was an active member of Phi Delta Epsilon’s UBC chapter, even serving two terms as President. Following graduation in 2019, she spent the summer months travelling before starting full time work as a research coordinator on clinical trials of heart valve replacement therapies. In May of this year, she was admitted to UBC medical school and started her first year in August at the Vancouver Fraser campus. Stephanie is incredibly excited to lead the workshop at  MedConnect 2020!

2020 Med-Student Panel

IMG_4951Nardin Kirolos – Third Year, University of Ottawa School of Medicine

Nardin completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto in a Neuroscience Co-op Specialist program. She is currently interested in pursuing a pediatrics specialization for her residency, and has a keen interest in pediatric hematology and oncology. She’s been involved in a variety of research projects with topics ranging from sleep, HIV and oncology. She’s always been drawn to a career in medicine due to its constantly evolving nature and the opportunity it provides to support individuals through their varying health journeys.

Vallani_Tanisha_HeadshotTanisha Vallani – First Year, UBC School of Medicine

Tanisha had almost completed her undergraduate degree at Simon Fraser University in Biomedical Physiology when she was accepted to UBC. A career in medicine was first added to her radar truthfully because of the TV show Grey’s Anatomy. However, she soon realized that a career in medicine could truly offer her the perfect blend of all her interests – physiology academically, teaching, hearing stories from different walks of life, and being able to tailor each person’s experience with medicine in a unique way that’s most beneficial for them. Some people might describe the path to medicine as a steep hike. However, Tanisha believes that as long as you’re spending your pre-med days doing what you’re truly passionate about, it can really help decrease the incline.

Alli Photo 2Alli JussilaThird Year, UBC School of Medicine

Alli Jussila is studying in Victoria through the Island Medical Program (IMP). She graduated in 2018 from SFU with Honours and Distinction Joint-Majoring in Chemistry and Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. Alli is a proud Phi Delta Epsilon alumnus, both as a past president and vice president of finance for Canada Beta, but also as a past conference chair and international pre-medical representative for PhiDE’s board of directors. Alli enjoys yoga, painting, knitting, and all things house plants! She is passionate about wellness, diversity and inclusivity in medicine.

Justin_DirkJustin Dirk – Fourth Year, Queen’s University School of Medicine

Justin is in his fourth year of medical school at Queen’s University. Originally from British Columbia, he’s had a bit of a different path to medicine. He’s completed two undergraduate degrees at UBC, one in biochemistry and one kinesiology, and worked as a paramedic for the British Columbia Ambulance Service. During medical school, he’s been involved in a variety of scholarly activities including the history of medicine, global health, and pre-hospital care. Justin is currently writing his CaRMS application to match to emergency medicine, and will continue to pursue his passion for pre-hospital care.

Josh MaJosh Ma First Year, UBC School of Medicine

Josh worked on an undergraduate degree at UBC in physiology. As the former VP Programming and President of the UBC chapter of Phi Delta Epsilon, he knows all too well the wide reaching benefits of joining a community like PhiDE. Outside of school, Josh has dabbled in various extracurricular activities including volunteering at VGH or crisis lines, and contributing to clinical research with the Vancouver Prostate Centre.

Our speaker panel for MedConnect 2019 was:

Dr. Matthew Orde

Matthew is a forensic pathologist at Vancouver General Hospital and a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of British Columbia.  He is a ‘Geordie’, originating from Newcastle upon Tyne in northern England, but attended medical school in Scotland and undertook the majority of his pathology training in southern England.  During his training he also spent a year-long sabbatical in South Africa, and prior to commencing work in Vancouver in 2013 he spent nine years working as a forensic pathologist in Sydney, Australia.  Matthew also holds legal qualifications, culminating in call to the London Bar, and previously held office as Her Majesty’s Assistant Deputy Coroner for the City of Brighton and Hove, England.  He is married with three children.


Veronika Zaytseva

Once, just a simple girl with many passions at heart, I left Russia at the age of fifteen to have partaken from my family and sought for my life adventure and calling elsewhere. Insatiably curious consultant and coach, leader, writer, and simply creative soul. I’ve come to realize that there is more to my vision of success. It is about sharing while purposefully helping and empowering ambitious, courageous souls like you through authenticity. That is necessary during the moments of growth, change and uncertainty in life. I work with people to help them create attractive authentic personal images through coaching, copywriting, career portfolio development, and styling, that not only help them feel even better professionals in their own fields. But, have thought leadership opportunities come to them through LinkedIn and other mediums. Residing in the heart of Vancouver’s Gastown, you can always find me with a cup of coffee, writing. Writing about people. Maybe, even writing about you?
Reach out to me via LinkedIn for questions:


Jaimie Topp

Jaimie started down the first aid path in 2000 as an occupational first aid attendant. After working and volunteering as a first aid attendant in many different capacities, she became a first aid instructor in 2005. She also works as a Corporate Instructional Designer and Trainer. Jaimie has a passion for teaching and aims to make her first aid & CPR classes fun and interesting for students.


Vanessa Bicknell

I have a love for the science and the arts of nursing.  I have spent the last years working as an RN in Vancouver. Starting my career at Lions Gate Hospital I enjoyed working on an orthopaedic, general surgery, neurology and palliative unit. I have a passion for health promotion and education and incorporate this in my daily practice. Currently I work at Vancouver General Hospital in the Pre-Admission Clinic. I meet with people and complete preoperative health assessments and provide education to patients in need of surgery to treat injuries, diseases, or other disorders. My passion and love for medicine continues to grow. I have had the pleasure of teaching workshops with MedConnect the last couple of years and look forward to  MedConnect 2019. 


Natasha Jalili – Emergency Nurse

A strong interest in the area of health sciences is what encouraged me to begin a career in nursing. It involves a combination of both knowledge-based practice whilst also providing therapeutic and empathic care to patients. Since graduating from school three years ago I have been building on my medical/surgical experience while working as a Registered Nurse in a fast-paced, high acuity Emergency Department in Surrey. I work with a diverse population of patients from many different walks of life. I get the opportunity to assist patients in times of crisis. Health promotion and prevention is my favorite part of what I do. My passion lies in teaching/mentoring students, colleagues, and patients.


Emily Potusek – ICU Cardiac Nurse

Emily graduated from Kwantlen Polytechnic University in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing. She started her career as a Registered Nurse at Surrey Memorial hospital on a medical unit. Since then, she has explored other interests working in neurology, internal medicine, and acute care for the elderly. In 2018, Emily completed her high acuity certificate through BCIT and currently works on the Cardiac Care Unit, High Acuity Unit and Surgical Unit (General & Thoracics) at Surrey Memorial hospital. Emily has a passion for nursing and enjoys making meaningful connections with her patients. She finds it inspiring to see the strength and resiliency of her patients during recovery after an acute illness or surgery.


Our speaker panel for MedConnect 2018 was:

Dr. Audrey Chan, Pain Medicine Resident, R7

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

St. Paul’s Hospital Pain Centre


Dr. Michael Butterfield, Psychiatrist

Interventional and Complex Pain

St. Paul’s Hospital Pain Centre


Dr. Baldev Sanghera, Physician

Family Medicine

PrimeCare Medical Centre


Our facilitators for our workshop were:

Ms. Vanessa Bicknell, RN

Ms. Emily Potusek, RN


Our Medical Student Panel was:

Mr. Andrew Chang, Third Year, UBC School of Medicine

Ms. Valeriya Zaborska, Second Year, UBC School of Medicine

Ms. Alli Jussila, First Year, UBC School of Medicine

Mr. Alec Yu, Second Year, UBC School of Medicine


The speaker panel for MedConnect 2017 was:

Dr. Ali Akbarzdeh

Dr. Baldev Sanghera

Mr. Andrew Chang

Mrs. Sandali Chandrarathna

Mrs. Valeriya Zaborska