Behind the Mask: Ashley Tedone, FNP

March 1, 2022

#BehindtheMask is a series that spotlights the faculty, staff, and trainees in Columbia University Irving Medical Center’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Today, meet Ashley Tedone, a Family Nurse Practitioner with the Division of Family Planning and Preventive Services.

Ashley Tedone with her family
Ashley Tedone with her family

Working in healthcare, every day brings the unexpected – and that’s just how Ashley Tedone, FNP likes it. Currently a nurse practitioner in the Family Planning division in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at CUIMC, Tedone has worked in many roles and in many different fields of medicine, but throughout that time, she has never stopped learning.

Tedone began her formal education intending to pursue psychology as a field, but decided to become a nurse practitioner instead, inspired by the great healthcare experiences she enjoyed as a patient of nurse practitioners. She received her credentials as a registered nurse and took an in-patient RN position at NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York, where she worked full time while pursuing her degree as a Family Nurse Practitioner. From there, she worked in private practice in Brooklyn for a year before returning to Columbia to join the Family Planning team.

“After working in private practice, I realized that I truly only wanted to be in an academic setting,” Tedone said. “You receive so much more education and mentorship in a hospital-based setting, where you’re interacting with residents and fellows, and teaching and learning are part of the job. You’re connected with experts in the field – if I didn’t have the answer to something, I could reach out to a colleague in hematology or cardiology. I love learning, and it was really important to me to continue with that education. I’ve been here for more than five years, and I’m still learning every single day.”

From her time in private practice, Tedone discovered her passion for working in routine gynecology and family planning, where she sees an opportunity to connect with patients and counter much of the stigma and misinformation that surrounds women’s health care.

Tedone at the Women's March in 2017

“Family planning in general speaks to me because it’s kind of a hot topic today, and it’s so important to provide access to care and the services that women need,” Tedone said. “Every woman should have access to birth control if they want birth control, and they should be given their full range of options without any bias or judgment. Listening to our patients is so critical.”

Tedone’s love of learning is something that she also extends to her patients, providing them with the information they need in order to make decisions for their healthcare, and engaging in conversations about the risks and benefits associated with different options. She and her team also regularly meet to discuss cutting-edge research and articles that might change their practice.

“I feel very strongly about putting women in power,” Tedone said. “I provide the facts and what the literature and research tell us, and then engage in shared decision-making with the patient to find the best medication, treatment option, or decision for them. I don’t go through the options in a checklist – I ask the patient what’s important to them, what their priorities and goals are, and we make a plan from there.”

Columbia’s Family Planning team is proud to provide trauma-informed care, which takes into account how a patient’s past history of sexual violence or negative experiences with medical care may impact their experience with medical procedures. Tedone sees herself as an advocate for patients, and asks questions and provides information throughout the visit to ensure that they feel safe and comfortable.

“It’s really important for patients to know that they’re the boss,” Tedone said. “If they don’t feel comfortable, we stop and we readjust. We need to take care of you safely, and we can come up with alternative ways of doing things. I have 40 hours of extra training as a Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner in providing trauma-informed care, and I bring that learning into my regular practice where you really want to make sure patients have the most comfortable and pain-free experiences possible.”

One of the most significant experiences in Tedone’s career has been the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, when NYP/CUIMC saw their first positive COVID-19 patient diagnosis, Tedone was 14 weeks pregnant, and dealing with much of the same stress and uncertainty as her patients.

“I felt like I was in it with our patients,” Tedone said. “There was so much unknown about COVID and its effects on pregnancy. I feel like it made me a better provider because I understood the discomfort and anxiety of not knowing what’s going to happen. Women are such amazing human beings, and so strong, and we saw that even more throughout the pandemic.”

Whether facing a pandemic or just another day at the office providing care, Tedone is certain of one thing – she’ll always be learning.

 “As a provider, you never stop learning,” Tedone said. “Patients challenge me every day in new and important ways, and patients are really smart! They look up information and do research on their own, which is great, because you can then have a conversation like ‘This is what the research says.’ It’s sometimes humbling – you think you have all the answers, but you don’t. A seasoned provider of 20 or 30 years should still be learning on a daily basis.”

Read more profiles in our Behind the Mask series here.