Q1) It is your Chief year! Did you ever believe this year would come? How would you reflect on the journey overall thus far?
The fact that it’s my chief year is absolutely crazy. It has flown- someone told me once that residency is about long days and short years, and it’s so very true.
The past four and a half years have been amazing. I did an intro to general surgery clerkship chat with a couple of clerks just starting on our service, which is their first in hospital rotation. The sheer volume of knowledge I’ve accumulated since I was that baby clerk is monumental.
Residency is a lot of hard work, and it’s frustrating at times, but it’s also about balancing the lows with the highs, and there are a lot of highs.
Q2) So what is next? Where are you off to in July?
I’m excited to be starting a Trauma and Acute Care Fellowship at St. Mike’s and Sunnybrook in Toronto in July.
Q3) What are you going to miss the most about residency?
This is cliché, but I’m going to miss the people. My year is very cohesive, and we’re all reasonable, supportive people. The bonds you make with residents in all years, and in all programs, at 3 am, are pretty special. I like telling the incoming residents that friends are better than money.
Q4) Where did you go to medical school and how did you come about the decision to specialize in General Surgery?
I went to medical school at MUN as well, and enjoyed it. I was the unusual person who started medical school wanting to go into general surgery. I liked the amount of medicine you need to know for general surgery, and I liked being the end of the line for something, rather than being a generalist like emerg or family. This was solidified in clerkship. I was the clerk on ortho, and there was a trauma code called for a gunshot to the axilla. I watched as the general surgeon supervised his chief resident run the trauma code, and was so calm and decisive, and confirmed that I definitely wanted to be like him when I grew up.
I actually started residency thinking I’d do paediatric surgery. However, I like adult big belly and trauma too much to give it up, and I don’t have the temperament for paediatrics.
Q5) What is the most memorable thing that you have done outside of surgery in the last five years?
I got married this summer, so I think that’s pretty memorable. Pro tip: if you get married in chief year, have a wedding planner, supportive family with time on their hands who are willing to take over planning. Or both.
In the winter of third year, I also started a couch to 5K program, and prior to that, I couldn’t run the length of myself. I ran the Disney Princess half marathon in February 2019, and (slow lol) running has become a stress reliever.
Q6) What was your most memorable night on call?
We were having a medium busy weekend, and it was the first time I did a Hartman’s with a junior with staff in the lounge. Making the calls myself is different when staff isn’t in the room. That patient may have gotten a treat the chief CT on POD 3…
A resuscitative thoracotomy at the non-trauma hospital that we got back is always memorable, too.
Q7) What was the absolute funniest moment during your residency?
Nothing that’s fit for publication on the internet!
Q8) How about the scariest moment during your residency?
I was a first year resident, probably about PGY 1.5 months. I got paged from emerg saying that anaesthesia wanted me to come for a surgical airway on a patient with COPD that EMS and a couple of emerg docs had tried to intubate before they called anaesthesia. I knew that my staff lived about 10 minutes away, and really didn’t know what I’d do. Luckily, anaesthesia had had us paged as a precaution, and had secured the airway in the five minutes it took me to get to emerg. It was kind of terrifying, and I was too junior to realize that no one expected the PGY 1.5 months to be able to do a surgical airway by themself.
Q9) Do you have any call superstitions or routines?
I always take my socks off when I get into bed in my call room, if I get there. It makes me feel human.
I also like to try to time supper around nursing change of shift. Someone has to be dying during that half hour for you to get paged, so it’s a good time to eat.
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?
Residency is hard. General surgery residency is hard. If you put the work in, and keep your eye on your goals, it’ll happen. Remember that hospitals are social networks, and spending fifteen minutes chatting with nurses in the middle of the night on call is friendly, and will make your life easier in the future. Remember that it’s never wrong to call for help.
I really liked The House of God, so I’d say to remember that the patient is the one with the problem, and that the first step at a code is to take a deep breath and take your own pulse.
Q11) What would your juniors say is the best thing about you?
I think they’d say that I teach a lot, and am very available, and will go to bat for them if another service is giving them a hard time.
I just asked one of my juniors this to make sure I wasn’t out to lunch, and they said to quote that I was “bad ass” (see thoracotomy above), which I’ll take as a complement.
Q12) Rapid fire:
- What do you listen to in the OR? If I pick, either the Walking on Sunshine radio station on Google Play, or my running playlist, which is a mix of classic rock, pop, and Disney songs.
- What is the operation you dislike the most? Taking the very last bit of the gallbladder off the gallbladder fossa during a lap chole, as a carry over from being awkward doing it as a junior. I like a nice lap chole otherwise.
- What is the operation you like the most? Sub total colectomy for megacolon or LBO, or elective (or trauma) splenectomy. I also like component separations.
- What is your favourite medical TV show? I haven’t watched a medical TV show in over 10 years
- What is your go-to surgery textbook? Sabiston, or Top Knife
- What is your post-call ritual? I don’t get post call now, but when I did, I’d try to adult and go to the bank and such post call, and eat far too much pizza
- What is your favourite “go-to” food on call? A lot of healthy steamers microwave dinners, and Greek yogurt, and the cheese and fruit plate from the cafeteria.
- White coat or hoodie? White coat. It cuts down significantly on being told at 3 am that I can’t be the doctor ‘cause I’m a girl.
- Single or double glove? double
- Dry scrub or wet scrub? Wet, always. I get dermatitis from Avagard.
- Trauma laparotomy or elective Whipple? Trauma lap, every time
- Open inguinal hernia repair or laparoscopic? Open
- Monocryl or skin staples? Staples for laparotomy, monocryl for everything else
- Perianal abscess I+D or ingrown toenail????? Both are fairly satisfying. I’m aware that makes me weird.