Evan Wong

July 2017

McGill University

1) It’s your chief year! Did you ever believe this year would come? How would you reflect on the journey overall thus-far?

As one attending told me when I was applying to General Surgery, residency is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. Becoming a safe and competent surgeon requires endless hours in the hospital. These past few years will undoubtedly be the most formative of my career. At this point, I feel that I am ready to become an independent surgeon. I am well aware that every difficult decision I’ve had to make, every challenging case I’ve encountered and all the constructive criticism I’ve received from my mentors have allowed me to reach this goal. Residency is indeed a marathon, a whirlwind of setbacks and elation, but definitely an achievement that I look back to with fondness. 

2) So what is next?  Where are you off to in July?
Have you already lined up a job or a fellowship or are you still keeping your options open?

I’ll be staying at McGill for the second part of my Critical Care Fellowship. I’ll hopefully be pursuing a Trauma Surgery Fellowship the following year but that has yet to be finalized. The end goal is to work as an academic Trauma and Critical Care surgeon while furthering my research in Global Surgery.

3) What are you going to miss the most about residency?

Quite a few things.

Changing rotations every few months. That feeling of uneasiness at the beginning of each rotation, being unfamiliar with the specifics of each procedure or the management of new pathologies, but knowing very well that the learning curve is steep and that you are maximizing your experience in a short period of time.

Leading a large team of junior residents, medical students, observers, etc. Sure, that continues as an attending, but senior residents have the most interaction with the team on a day-to-day basis.

And finally, operating every day and being expected to spend as much time as possible in the OR, actually doing the case. I often hear attendings complain about how they don’t operate anymore because residents do the cases.

4) Where did you go to medical school and how did you come about the decision to specialize in General Surgery? Was it something you gradually got into or is there an “aha” moment from your background or training?

I also completed my medical school at McGill. I actually went through medical school thinking I wanted to become a Neurologist – until I rotated on Neurology. I wouldn’t necessarily qualify it as an “aha” moment but during my subsequent surgical rotation, I was definitely attracted by the surgeon’s ability to quickly change the course of a disease. I found this to be particularly true in the trauma setting and I ended up choosing General Surgery particularly to become a Trauma Surgeon.

5) Where did you grow up and what did you do in your life before medicine? Not just professionally, but did you have any hobbies or passions that you still pursue?

I grew up in Montreal. I actually went straight into medical school from CEGEP. Did I really know what I was getting myself into at age 19? Not really. Am I happy I did? Definitely. I was actually on track to potentially becoming a professional tennis player. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I tore my rotator cuff and ended up focusing on school. I was privileged enough to have travelled quite extensively for tournaments and training so travel has remained a passion of mine. In fact, during my medical school interview, when I was asked what my second career choice would be if I didn’t get in, I answered, “Travel Agent”. Glad things worked out in the end. I also stayed active by playing intramural hockey throughout residency and am still an avid Montreal Canadiens fan.

 

6) What is the most memorable thing that you have done outside of surgery in the last five years?

Getting my Open Water and Advanced Open Water diving certification. I’m actually a horrible swimmer and afraid of dark water so completing my night diver course was definitely a big achievement for me.

The whole certification process in itself was also memorable. It allowed me to travel to remote areas of the world with my significant other, Jessica, who’s been my pillar throughout residency and who’s always supported me through all my crazy adventures. 

7) What was your most memorable night on call?

A crazy trauma call where we ran out of ventilators in the hospital. The entire monitored area of the ED was filled with intubated trauma patients. Yes, “resource-limited” is a relative term.

8) What was the absolute funniest moment during your residency?

Let’s just say it involved a rigid sigmoidoscope, a patient with C. Diff. and an overzealous chief resident. I’ll leave it at that.

9) How about the scariest moment during your residency?

The first time I had to call an attending in the middle of the night to take a patient to the OR. Having to make that decision, with the attending trusting my assessment without ever having seen the patient, was terrifying but ultimately rewarding when it ended up being the right decision.

10) Do you have any call superstitions or routines?

As is true in life, stay hydrated. I drink a lot of water when I’m on call and I find that this minimizes the effects of fatigue. Also, thankfully, throughout my years of residency, I have developed an outstanding bladder capacity.

 

11) If you could give some words of wisdom to new Residents starting General Surgery (or to your past self on the first day of residency) in the light of everything we’re facing these days across Canada (limited jobs, duty hour restrictions, more and more specialization), what would it be?

Things ultimately work out no matter what (although I don’t believe people when they tell me that either). The specialty is evolving. The job situation will change. In the end, just focus on finding something you are passionate about and the rest will fall into place. Ask questions. Find mentors. Seek out cases even if all you do is watch. Ultimately, you are responsible for your own education and for becoming a safe and competent surgeon. With your training, you are an invaluable member of society and as such, you will undoubtedly find your place.

12) Rapid Fire:

What do you listen to in the OR?

Mostly what the attending chooses; when given the choice, Reggae – it keeps everyone in a calm and relaxed mood

What is the operation you dislike the most?

Breast lumpectomy

What is the operation you like the most?

Trauma laparotomy

What is your favourite medical TV show?

Scrubs

What is your go-to surgery textbook?

Cameron for practical knowledge; Sabiston for details; Zollinger’s for procedures; Websurg.com for laparoscopic procedures

Favourite post-call activity?

Netflix

What is your favourite “go-to” food on call?

Poutine

White coat or hoodie?

White coat during the day, hoodie at night

Single or double glove?

Double glove

Dry scrub or wet scrub?

Dry scrub

Trauma laparotomy or elective Whipple?

Trauma laparotomy

Inexperienced junior resident or inexperienced ER staff?

Inexperienced junior resident. More open to feedback.

Open inguinal hernia repair or laparoscopic?

Teaching open; performing laparoscopic.

Monocryl or skin staples?

Monocryl; it’s the medical student’s time to shine.

Perianal abscess I+D or ingrown toenail?????

Perianal abscess I+D

1) It’s your chief year! Did you ever believe this year would come? How would you reflect on the journey overall thus-far?

As one attending told me when I was applying to General Surgery, residency is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. Becoming a safe and competent surgeon requires endless hours in the hospital. These past few years will undoubtedly be the most formative of my career. At this point, I feel that I am ready to become an independent surgeon. I am well aware that every difficult decision I’ve had to make, every challenging case I’ve encountered and all the constructive criticism I’ve received from my mentors have allowed me to reach this goal. Residency is indeed a marathon, a whirlwind of setbacks and elation, but definitely an achievement that I look back to with fondness. 

2) So what is next?  Where are you off to in July?
Have you already lined up a job or a fellowship or are you still keeping your options open?

I’ll be staying at McGill for the second part of my Critical Care Fellowship. I’ll hopefully be pursuing a Trauma Surgery Fellowship the following year but that has yet to be finalized. The end goal is to work as an academic Trauma and Critical Care surgeon while furthering my research in Global Surgery.

3) What are you going to miss the most about residency?

Quite a few things.

Changing rotations every few months. That feeling of uneasiness at the beginning of each rotation, being unfamiliar with the specifics of each procedure or the management of new pathologies, but knowing very well that the learning curve is steep and that you are maximizing your experience in a short period of time.

Leading a large team of junior residents, medical students, observers, etc. Sure, that continues as an attending, but senior residents have the most interaction with the team on a day-to-day basis.

And finally, operating every day and being expected to spend as much time as possible in the OR, actually doing the case. I often hear attendings complain about how they don’t operate anymore because residents do the cases.

4) Where did you go to medical school and how did you come about the decision to specialize in General Surgery? Was it something you gradually got into or is there an “aha” moment from your background or training?

I also completed my medical school at McGill. I actually went through medical school thinking I wanted to become a Neurologist – until I rotated on Neurology. I wouldn’t necessarily qualify it as an “aha” moment but during my subsequent surgical rotation, I was definitely attracted by the surgeon’s ability to quickly change the course of a disease. I found this to be particularly true in the trauma setting and I ended up choosing General Surgery particularly to become a Trauma Surgeon.

5) Where did you grow up and what did you do in your life before medicine? Not just professionally, but did you have any hobbies or passions that you still pursue?

I grew up in Montreal. I actually went straight into medical school from CEGEP. Did I really know what I was getting myself into at age 19? Not really. Am I happy I did? Definitely. I was actually on track to potentially becoming a professional tennis player. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I tore my rotator cuff and ended up focusing on school. I was privileged enough to have travelled quite extensively for tournaments and training so travel has remained a passion of mine. In fact, during my medical school interview, when I was asked what my second career choice would be if I didn’t get in, I answered, “Travel Agent”. Glad things worked out in the end. I also stayed active by playing intramural hockey throughout residency and am still an avid Montreal Canadiens fan.

 

6) What is the most memorable thing that you have done outside of surgery in the last five years?

Getting my Open Water and Advanced Open Water diving certification. I’m actually a horrible swimmer and afraid of dark water so completing my night diver course was definitely a big achievement for me.

The whole certification process in itself was also memorable. It allowed me to travel to remote areas of the world with my significant other, Jessica, who’s been my pillar throughout residency and who’s always supported me through all my crazy adventures. 

7) What was your most memorable night on call?

A crazy trauma call where we ran out of ventilators in the hospital. The entire monitored area of the ED was filled with intubated trauma patients. Yes, “resource-limited” is a relative term.

8) What was the absolute funniest moment during your residency?

Let’s just say it involved a rigid sigmoidoscope, a patient with C. Diff. and an overzealous chief resident. I’ll leave it at that.

9) How about the scariest moment during your residency?

The first time I had to call an attending in the middle of the night to take a patient to the OR. Having to make that decision, with the attending trusting my assessment without ever having seen the patient, was terrifying but ultimately rewarding when it ended up being the right decision.

10) Do you have any call superstitions or routines?

As is true in life, stay hydrated. I drink a lot of water when I’m on call and I find that this minimizes the effects of fatigue. Also, thankfully, throughout my years of residency, I have developed an outstanding bladder capacity.

 

11) If you could give some words of wisdom to new Residents starting General Surgery (or to your past self on the first day of residency) in the light of everything we’re facing these days across Canada (limited jobs, duty hour restrictions, more and more specialization), what would it be?

Things ultimately work out no matter what (although I don’t believe people when they tell me that either). The specialty is evolving. The job situation will change. In the end, just focus on finding something you are passionate about and the rest will fall into place. Ask questions. Find mentors. Seek out cases even if all you do is watch. Ultimately, you are responsible for your own education and for becoming a safe and competent surgeon. With your training, you are an invaluable member of society and as such, you will undoubtedly find your place.

12) Rapid Fire:

What do you listen to in the OR?

Mostly what the attending chooses; when given the choice, Reggae – it keeps everyone in a calm and relaxed mood

What is the operation you dislike the most?

Breast lumpectomy

What is the operation you like the most?

Trauma laparotomy

What is your favourite medical TV show?

Scrubs

What is your go-to surgery textbook?

Cameron for practical knowledge; Sabiston for details; Zollinger’s for procedures; Websurg.com for laparoscopic procedures

Favourite post-call activity?

Netflix

What is your favourite “go-to” food on call?

Poutine

White coat or hoodie?

White coat during the day, hoodie at night

Single or double glove?

Double glove

Dry scrub or wet scrub?

Dry scrub

Trauma laparotomy or elective Whipple?

Trauma laparotomy

Inexperienced junior resident or inexperienced ER staff?

Inexperienced junior resident. More open to feedback.

Open inguinal hernia repair or laparoscopic?

Teaching open; performing laparoscopic.

Monocryl or skin staples?

Monocryl; it’s the medical student’s time to shine.

Perianal abscess I+D or ingrown toenail?????

Perianal abscess I+D