Benjamin Wykes

October 2016

Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM)

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

It was difficult but worth it.

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 doing some locums and extra training in anticipation of a job opening in 2018 once a colleague retires.

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

Nothing. Well, maybe the reassurance of a staff person in the background, for support.

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 attended the University of Manitoba medical school but the decision to specialize in General Surgery came much earlier than that. I was 4 or 5 years old, watching operations in the Veterinary Clinic where my Mom worked and that was when the interest really started.

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 Kenora, Ontario and still enjoy fishing, camping and hunting. I did many things in my journey to medicine and I’ve been working since I was 11 years old. Some of the jobs I’ve had include “horticultural technician” (lawn mowing), “hydrocarbon dispenser” (gas jockey), packaging in a lumber mill, skinning hams at Maple Leak Pork (one every 6 seconds or so, usually >2000/day), small engine mechanic (everything from chainsaws to large boats), “doorman” (working as a bouncer at a club with a metal detector) and several TA positions while at University.

6) Do you have any call superstitions or routines?

My wife isn’t allowed to ask how the night is going; every time she does it all goes to hell.

7) 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 are facing these days across Canada (limited jobs, duty hour restrictions, more and more specialization), what would it be?

Use every possible opportunity and rotation (even off service ones) to improve your skills. Surgery is not learned from a book and we face difficult decisions on a day to day basis. The more discussions you have around cases and the more surgeries you see and do, the better able you will be to function independently.

8) Rapid fire:

What do you listen to in the OR?

The nurses

What is the operation you dislike the most?

Breast anything

What is the operation you like the most?

Anything other than breast

What is your favourite medical TV show?

They’re all misleading and ridiculous. Surprisingly, the most accurate one I think I’ve seen in Scrubs

What is your go-to surgery textbook?


Favourite post-call activity?


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

Whatever I can get

White coat or hoodie?

Neither (I sweat a lot)

Single glove or double glove?

Single. During my time at Maple Leaf I got frostbite a few times now if I double glove my hands go instantly numb

Dry scrub or wet scrub?


Trauma laparotomy or elective Whipple?


Inexperienced junior resident or inexperienced ER staff?

Junior resident every time. They do less damage

Open inguinal hernia repair or laparoscopic?


Monocryl or skin staples?


Perianal abscess I+D or ingrown toenail?

Ingrown toenail, only because they smell marginally better