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Staff Q&A: Daniela Amortegui, MA, research project coordinator, SQIC

Daniela Amortegui

Daniela Amortegui, MA, is a research project coordinator at the Surgical Outcomes & Quality Improvement Center (SOQIC). Amortegui manages the SECOND Trial, a randomized trial that measures indicators of surgical resident burnout and offers interventions to improve resident well-being to programs across the country.

Read a Q&A with Amortegui below.

Where are you originally from?  

I was born in Bogota, Colombia and moved to the states when I was seven years old. I was raised in Charlotte, North Carolina — so technically that is what I call home. I've also had the pleasure of living in the UK and hope to live in many other countries in the future.

What is your educational background?

I have a graduate degree in international education from the University of Huddersfield and the focus of my research was the impact of education policy on helping address social fractures in the UK.

Please tell us about your professional background.

Before getting involved in academic research I started my professional career in education. I worked as a high school teacher and also as an adult ESL educator with migrant communities in North Carolina. After graduate school I managed a study conducted by a not-for-profit organization. The study aimed to understand how the organization could leverage the “funds of knowledge” approach to help Latin American communities acculturate in the United States. My background as an educator combined with my skills in research and experience working with marginalized populations, led me to research projects in public health that focused on education in diverse populations.  

Why do you enjoy working at Northwestern?

I believe that the university's best resource are the people. They are incredibly talented at all levels.

How do you help scientists at the medical school?

I implement nearly every aspect of a study or organize our teams to execute efforts so that scientists or fellows can publish findings derived from the results.

What is your favorite part of the job?

I love working with qualitative data and working to understand why certain phenomena occur. Using qualitative methodologies allows for a deeper understanding and connection with the communities you aim to help. It centers the use of what many consider "soft skills" even though emotional intelligence is quite difficult for many to understand. I look forward to a time where interpretivist methodologies are more widely applied in academic research.

What exciting projects are you working on?

I currently manage the SECOND Trial, a randomized controlled trial focused on improving the learning environment and well-being of general surgery residents across the country. Through this project we explore how surgical resident training impacts wellness. Having that information we then developed an interactive wellness toolkit to help programs address their well-being needs. Through this project I had the opportunity to spearhead the AAS/SECOND Trial National Mentorship Network designed to diversify mentoring opportunities for residents from underrepresented communities.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

In my spare time I am a metal smith and jewelry designer. I have a little studio in my apartment where I make eco-conscious jewelry that mirrors organic shapes found in our everyday environments. You can follow me on Instagram @cudesignsbydani. Other than that I love to travel the world with my husband and hangout at the beach with my dog Dot and occasionally — when she's feeling adventurous — our cat Pocha.