Abdullah Alenazi

November 2020

University of Manitoba

Q1) It is your Chief year! Did you ever believe this year would come? How would you reflect on the journey overall thus far? 

It’s hard to believe this year has finally come, I feel like it was just yesterday I was starting out in first year residency. I have come such a long way and learned so much in the process. I feel ready to be finishing residency and I look forward to the next step in my career.

Q2) 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’m very excited to start my pediatric surgery fellowship in Calgary. I’m looking forward to continuing my training with some of the pioneers of this field. I can’t wait to experience living in a different part of Canada, near the mountains.

Q3) What are you going to miss the most about residency?
I’m going to miss the friendships that helped get me through stressful times, the support and mentorship I received from my staff, and the friendly learning environment despite the chaos that tends to occur during the late hours.

Q4) 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 went to medical school at King Saud University in Saudi Arabia, where we do six years of school followed by a full year of internship training. Throughout my internship year, I was exposed to a number of specialties, and general surgery was the rotation that I enjoyed the most. At that that point in time, I initiated an organ donation campaign which was organized and supervised by general surgeons – and that just made me fall in love with the specialty.

Q5) What is the most memorable thing that you have done outside of surgery in the last five years?
During my third and fourth year in residency, I used my vacation time to go and volunteer in Chad to help perform surgeries for people who were in need and could not afford it. I am fortunate to have amazing friends who I traveled and explored the world with. I also try to stay fit and enjoy outdoor activities.

Q6) What was your most memorable night on call?
It was the night when I had zero (yes, zero) consults while being on call for trauma in Winnipeg. This is normally a very busy service, so this was very unusual and memorable for me.

Q7) What was the absolute funniest moment during your residency?
We had a trauma patient from jail that couldn’t walk, despite all his investigations being normal with no clear cause. Since we could not find an explanation and his condition seemed benign, we informed him that we would be sending send him back to jail the following day. That same night, his nurse paged and told me that he jumped out of a window and ran away. I was in shock, asking how could he run away when he couldn’t move his feet. It turns out that he was faking it all along to avoid going back to jail. We laughed so much afterwards.

Q8) How about the scariest moment during your residency?
I was on call in my first week of residency and we had a patient who was stabbed in the neck with gas bubbles coming out of the stab site. I just froze and didn’t know what to do. Thankfully, my senior resident was in the emergency department and performed a cricothyroidotomy in less than a minute. (Shout out to A,E for being such a hero).

Q9) Do you have any call superstitions or routines?
An empty bladder, somewhat of a full stomach and a keen junior resident is all what I ask for when I’m on call.

Q10) 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?
My first piece of advice is to ask yourself if this is really what you want, and if the answer is yes – then everything else (job, money, skill and knowledge) will come.

My second piece of advice is to find a mentor early in your junior years that you relate to. Finally, keep your head down and try to get through residency without getting into much conflict with others.

Q11) What would your juniors say is the best thing about you?
I always order food for them when we are on call together.

Q12) Rapid fire:

  • What do you listen to in the OR? Anything but country music.
  • What is the operation you dislike the most? Perianal everything.
  • What is the operation you like the most? Laparoscopic right hemicolectomy on a patient with a normal BMI.
  • What is your favourite medical TV show? I guess I should start watching one.
  • What is your go-to surgery textbook? Sabiston, Cameron and UpToDate.
  • What is your post-call ritual? Go for a run, call my mom and loosen up by listening to music.
  • What is your favourite “go-to” food on call? Ensure or boost from the wards kitchenette.
  • White coat or hoodie? Hoodie. I’m from the desert, and Winnipeg is freezing cold.
  • Single or double glove? Single for laparoscopic, double for open.
  • Dry scrub or wet scrub? Dry.
  • Trauma laparotomy or elective Whipple? I’d prefer neither. Though, a trauma laparotomy would be more appealing as it will be done in shorter time.
  • Open inguinal hernia repair or laparoscopic? I enjoy open groin surgery as it’s more challenging and requires solid understanding of groin anatomy.
  • Monocryl or skin staples? Monocryl all day long.
  • Perianal abscess I+D or ingrown toenail????? Ingrown toenail. If you’re my junior resident, then I’m sending you to do the perianal abscess.