Ashley Joslin was once a girl with a lot of big dreams. She wanted to dance. She wanted to play the piano. And she wanted to be a doctor. But first, the New York native would have to overcome a few obstacles along the way.
Ashley was born with a rare birth defect that caused her left hip and leg to be badly deformed. In addition, two fingers on her left hand were fused together.
Jessica Joslin, Ashley’s mom, said, “The doctor just had a funny look on his face and you could tell something was wrong. I asked him what and the nurse said well we’re not really sure but it seems to be a bone problem.”
After taking Ashley to several hospitals in the Northeast, Ashley’s aunt who lived in Birmingham recommended they bring her to Children’s Hospital. Once here, the Joslins were won over by the calm and knowledgeable demeanor of the late Dr. Kurt Niemann, who chaired the orthopedics division at the time.
Steve Joslin, Ashley’s dad, said, “We felt we were treated like family by Dr. Neimann and the entire staff. They made us feel comfortable, safe and confident Ashley was receiving the best medical care in the universe.”
At 10 months old, Ashley had a syndactal release on her fingers. At two and a half years old, her hip socket was showing signs of needing work, so they had to reshape her left hip socket. When she was five the doctors said it was time to do a leg amputation. And that was the last surgery.
By then, the Joslins were learning that their little daughter was unstoppable. “Ashley doesn’t like to be told she can’t do anything,” said Jessica.
“One of the first things she wanted to do when she was little was take dance lessons. I tried to explain to her that she would have some limitations, but she danced anyway. She had me take her to piano lessons even though she didn’t have five fingers on her left hand. I told her she needed 10 fingers to be able to play. She said she could do it and turned out to be a wonderful pianist,” said Jessica.
Ever since she was two, Ashley said she was going to be a doctor. Ashley’s mom thinks it’s because she had such nice memories of the doctors and nurses at Children’s Hospital.
In March of 2010, Ashley’s dreams as well as those of her parents and the Birmingham aunt who helped bring her to Children’s came true. Ashley, a fourth year medical school student at SUNY Upstate in Syracuse, was matched with the physical medicine and rehabilitation residency program at Spain Rehab Center in Birmingham.
Ashley said “The experiences I had as a child at Children’s Hospital absolutely solidified my career choice. I know what it’s like to be a patient and how important it is to get your questions answered. To really make sure the patient knows what is going on and has a good understanding of what is wrong with them and what goals are realistic.”
“They [doctors and nurses] helped me to get around and walk and also with my life. They absolutely are the main reason about why I am going into rehab. I just knew I would want to do the same for someone else.”