Member of Adelphi University’s 10 Under 10
As a student at Adelphi, Wilbur Asheld was exposed to science, research and teaching, three areas that would become staples throughout his education as a physician.
A biology major with a minor in chemistry, Dr. Asheld worked on campus in the Learning Center, an opportunity that helped him discover his talent for teaching others. “Some of the best teachers I had at and after Adelphi have been able to explain complex concepts in simple manners,” he said. “Being able to do that for other students—especially with notoriously difficult topics like organic chemistry—gives you a great feeling.”
During his undergraduate years he was also involved in biomedical research with mice and rheumatoid arthritis. “That experience provided me the freedom to pursue my own scientific questions, which consequently sparked my interest in medical research,” he said.
After graduating from Adelphi, Dr. Asheld entered the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine. Four years later, he embarked on his internship and then residency in Internal Medicine at Winthrop University Hospital.
As a resident he conducted research regarding the failure of internal cardiac defibrillator (ICD) leads. “These leads are implanted in patients to treat lethal arrhythmias and thus, if they fail, can lead to death.” During his second year of residency, Dr. Asheld traveled to Venice, Italy to present his research to hundreds of colleagues and scientists. “Just weeks before my presentation, the FDA mandated a Class I recall of one of the ICD leads in my study. This created quite a controversy and physicians were curious to see how my results compared to this groundbreaking news. It was a great chance for me to interact with some of the leaders in the field.”
Currently, Dr. Asheld is in his third year of his cardiology fellowship. “Cardiology encompasses outpatient interactions, which allows me to manage chronic diseases and bond with my patients. But it also provides me with the opportunity to treat acutely ill patients in the cardiac care unit. It’s both cerebral and technical in nature, involving implantation of ICDs, deployment of coronary stents and interpretation of complex echocardiograms,” he said. “I knew my days would never be boring.”
The challenges this dynamic field presents each day motivates Dr. Asheld to continue his journey accruing knowledge and thinking outside of the box. “The most exciting thing is, as much as we think we understand the heart and how everything works, there is still so much that is unknown…so much that is changing. As we develop new techniques, new problems emerge. There is always room for advancement,” he said. “Cardiology is very in tune with technology, always trying to make things smaller, easier to use, and faster to deploy.”
Additionally, he enjoys the chance his role provides him to share his knowledge and expertise with younger colleagues. “When you are at an academic institution you have medical students and other residents who rotate with you,” he said. “Your job is to inform them of the advantages and disadvantages of different strategies, how they should approach complex patients, problem-solve and devise solutions.”
While he is slated to complete his fellowship in July 2016, Dr. Asheld recognizes that his education will never be over—a lesson he said was imparted on him at the University. “Adelphi instilled in me the principle that there is great benefit to becoming a lifelong learner,” he said. “That’s true of whatever field you go into. For me to keep up with increasing technologies and advancing sciences, I’m certainly going to have to keep learning,” he said.
Dr. Asheld is looking forward to practicing cardiology in the New York area and being involved in patient care, research, and teaching medical students or residents.