Alexander Ednie

January 2019

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

It is still hard to believe that 5 years have come and gone. The journey has been a rollercoaster ride with highs and lows. I have been very fortunate throughout it all, with phenomenal senior and junior colleagues along the way.

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 will be heading to Western University to start a Thoracic Surgery fellowship in July.

What are you going to miss the most about residency?

The residents and scrub nurses in Halifax: Lovely group of people, very welcoming, and a pleasure to work with not only in the OR, but also throughout the hospital. The residents that I have worked with over my 5 years at Dalhousie have been outstanding individuals.

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 UBC for medical school. For my third year of medical school, my wife and I were in Trail, BC in the Integrated Community Clerkship (ICC) program. During this time, I had great exposure to community surgery. I remember one night being on call seeing a very sick patient with a closed loop obstruction on the ward. We took her to the OR and resected some small bowel. She improved after a short ICU stay, and I saw her in family practice clinic a couple weeks after discharge. To see the impact the surgeons had, and how calm they were in those critical moments had a huge impact on my decision to do general surgery. I also couldn’t see myself truly happy and fulfilled in any other area of medicine.

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 Chelsea, Quebec. I was fortunate to have an opportunity to study across Canada, doing my undergraduate degree at the University of Victoria, medical school in Vancouver, and residency in Halifax. Prior to medical school I played a lot of soccer, mainly in Ottawa with frequent trips to Toronto for weekend games. During medical school and residency, I got into road cycling and squash.

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

Married my wife Katie. We met in undergrad at the University of Victoria. We went through medical school together, even did our 3rd year clerkship in the interior of BC together, and “couples matched” to Dalhousie. We got married in second year after I proposed to her post-call in Starbucks (oops). I couldn’t have done it without her.

What was your most memorable night on call?

First weekend on call during my first week as an R1. Several patients with gunshot wounds to the abdomen and a couple of ruptured AAAs. I think I saw the senior for a total of 30 minutes the entire night, as he was busy operating. It set the standard, we survived, and every other night on call (no matter how busy) has been reasonable in comparison.

What was the absolute funniest moment during your residency?

I laugh just thinking about some of the situations in the ER over the last five years, but I probably shouldn’t repeat them here. Sorry.

How about the scariest moment during your residency?

Doing my first skin to skin lap cholecystectomy during my first month as an R3 without the staff in the room. Fortunately, I had a great R1 who could actually operate the laparoscope.

Do you have any call superstitions or routines?

No, what will happen will happen. If I wake up tired and hope for a quiet night, I know it will inevitably be chaotic.

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?

General surgery residency is a long journey, but well worth it if this is truly what you want to do. It’s easy to get bogged down with all of the busy work, so make sure to take time to reflect on the impact you are having on patients’ lives during their treatment. Spending just a couple of extra moments getting to know your patients goes a long way, puts things in perspective, and can make work much more fulfilling. Lastly, if you are ever having a difficult time with something, more likely than not your colleagues have gone through the exact same thing, so speak up and don’t bottle things up.

Rapid fire:

1. What do you listen to in the OR?

When I have my choice, Hall and Oates, or Motown

2. What is the operation you dislike the most?

I can’t say I really enjoy debriding someone’s perineum for necrotizing fasciitis at 3am.

3. What is the operation you like the most?

Anything in the foregut or chest.

4. What is your favourite medical TV show?

The Knick was pretty good for a bit of historic perspective.

5. What is your go-to surgery textbook?

Cameron’s as a junior, Sabsiton’s now.

6. Favourite post-call activity?

A little sleep, and some exercise.

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

I tend to bring my own food, but when necessary a club sandwich from a restaurant down the street.

8. White coat or hoodie?

White coat, then hoodie after 3am since it is so cold in the hospital if I’m not scrubbed.

9. Single or double glove?


10. Dry scrub or wet scrub?

Both. It gives a longer moment to think about the case amongst all the hustle within and around the OR.

11. Trauma laparotomy or elective Whipple?

Trauma laparotomy.

12. Inexperienced junior resident or inexperienced ER staff?

Inexperienced junior resident any day of the week, unless they have mandatory teaching.

13. Open inguinal hernia repair or laparoscopic?


14. Monocryl or skin staples?

Monocryl for chest, staples for abdomen.

15. Perianal abscess I+D or ingrown toenail?

Ingrown toenail.