David Nathan Ginther III
University of Saskatchewan
1) It’s your Chief year! Did you ever believe this year would come? How would you reflect on the journey overall thus-far?
It is with a bittersweet mixture of eagerness and fear that I think about the end of residency. I’m very ready to be finished this stage, but also aware of the sheltered nature of residency – soon the safety net will be gone, and the responsibility of practice makes me pause and, truthfully, often be afraid. This has been a very long road with a high price paid by myself and my family, but it’s been worthwhile and most of the time I think I’d do it again.
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’m feeling pretty fortunate because I had several very good job prospects and simultaneous fellowship options, and I just had to choose. I’ve accepted a colorectal surgery fellowship in Winnipeg. I am excited to start that chapter in my life and thereafter, to join the surgical workforce.
3) What are you going to miss the most about residency?
Being sheltered from paperwork. And always having someone else more experienced to consult on problems.
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?
All my education so far has been at the University of Saskatchewan, and I think it’s really top-notch training. General surgery was a gradual process overall, but the true point of decision happened at about 2:30 AM in the operating room in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. We were in the midst of a resection of necrotic small bowel, in a very smelly theatre (as only necrotic bowel can smell), and I realized that I was still happy to be there. I figured if you can like what you do in the middle of the night in an unpleasant atmosphere, it must be the right career choice!
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 mostly in small-town Saskatchewan, and had a number of occupations before medicine: framer, wildland firefighter, telecommunications technician. I’m grateful for those experiences because they really formed my work ethic and motivation to have a career that was primarily about helping others.
I’ve given up most of my hobbies, as being a resident and father to two young girls doesn’t leave much free time. Despite that, I’ve managed to hang onto backcountry hiking and camping, and usually can get at least one good trip in per year.
6) If you had to go back and do something else, anything other than medicine, and more specifically surgery, what would it be?
I love flying, particularly helicopters. If I had to choose something else, it’d be helicopter aviation.
7) What was the absolute funniest moment during your residency?
Definitely the deep, guttural, and sustained laugh from a patient when I asked him if the enema had worked – it had. It was infectious and had everyone, including the medical students and MRP, laughing alongside.
8) How about the scariest?
Without doubt, the scariest moments are when the phone rings from the occupational health nurse calling to let me know results of my latest blood work after a HCV needlestick injury. Thankfully I’ve remained negative, but those moments seem to affect your whole life and they don’t get any easier.
9) What is your favourite “go-to” food on call?
Almonds and Tim Horton’s coffee.
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?
This is all temporary, and the market will find equilibrium sooner or later, so just focus on getting the best education you can. Residency is self-directed, and the success of it is largely up to you. I’d repeat what someone told me: residency is a 5-year job interview, and the best way to be successful after it is to be successful during it. And when its up to us, let’s make it better for those who will follow.