Audrey Bouffard-Cloutier

April 2016

Universite de Sherbrooke

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

When I was a junior resident, I was really impressed by my chief residents, how they were so accomplished and knowledgeable. I aspired to be as good as they were. And here I am, 5 years later! At first, it appeared unattainable. However, when you’re in your final year, you realize how many difficulties you overcame and how much you’ve grown! The last 5 years went by so fast! Now I’m excited to take on new challenges after my exams!

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?

During one of my elective rotations in Edmundston, I was offered a job; it was exactly the kind of job I wanted! I will work in a community hospital with excellent colleagues. It is a city where I can practice a lot of outdoor sports and activities.

After obtaining a few years of experience, I plan to do some international health work. I have already done some rotations in Africa and Haïti, and they were wonderful experiences.

audrey cloutier

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

The teamwork! It is a big part of survival in a surgical residency. The teamwork also makes it fun. I will miss my fellow residents and my attendings. I have made many new friends and I will cherish all the memories we have shared. I certainly won’t miss the workload!

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 trained at the Université de Sherbrooke. I’ve always wanted to be a surgeon. When I was a child, I watched a medical show (not like Grey’s Anatomy!) where surgeries were shown and explained… I was incredibly captivated. Over the years, I have evaluated other professional options. In the end, I knew that I was made for general surgery.

audrey cloutier

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 a small town in Eastern Quebec.

Apart from school, I was implicated in many sports, particularly short track speed skating for over 20 years. I qualified to go to Canadian and North American championships. I competed until clerkship, then it became too difficult to continue. I’ve remained extremely active throughout residency. It’s my stress reliever!

I have been introduced to the piano at a young age and I completed my training at the music conservatory. Unfortunately, during residency, I haven’t had much time to play piano. I am looking forward to restarting after residency.

Another passion of mine is traveling all around the world. I enjoy surfing, trekking, relaxing and scuba diving. I enjoy meeting new people and getting to know their culture.

audrey cloutieraudrey cloutier

6) If you had to go back and do something else, anything other than medicine, and more specifically surgery, what would it be?

I think I would be a veterinarian.

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

One morning, I was rounding on my vascular patients and the resident who was on call the night before told me that the nurses had lost one of my patients during the night. They had looked for him everywhere. They finally found him “french kissing” another patient in the same room (my patient was in delirium). It was a funny situation!

8) How about the scariest?

I do not recall any scary moments, but I have had many stressful ones. I was the senior resident on call (also covering vascular surgery) and it was very busy. I met the vascular surgeon who told me that she was waiting for a patient with a ruptured aortic aneurism. At the same time, my friend (also a general surgery resident) called to tell me his grand-father was coming to the hospital with a ruptured aortic aneurism. It turned out that it was the same patient!!! The patient arrived hemodynamically unstable so we went to the OR straight away. No matter what we did, we were not able to save him. He died on the table. It was a very difficult time…

9) What is your favorite “go-to” food on call?

Definitely a grilled-cheese and chocolate milk!

10) If you could give some words of wisdom to new residents starting general surgery 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?

Everyone has to work hard to get to where they are. You will be pushed to your limits, but you will grow from your experiences. Getting a job may not be easy, but if you work hard you will achieve your goals.

Remember to be kind to your patients, to your colleagues, to the nurses and everyone around you. You don’t get through residency alone!

During your residency, you have to be patient with yourself. You will make mistakes. Learn from them. You will have good days and bad days: learn how to cope and how to relax.

Most importantly, you have to keep a balanced life during residency. Studying is important, but so are your other activities (sports, movies, restaurants, …). You may not have time to maintain all of your hobbies, but make time for your most important ones! Make sure you stay healthy.