Eileen Roach

June 2020

Q1) It is your Chief year! Did you ever believe this year would come? How would you reflect on the journey overall thus far? 
I know everyone says this, but the years have flown by. It is hard to see for yourself the progress you make during the midst of the struggle – until suddenly you’re doing a case or managing a super sick patient and realize “I actually can do this”. Residency is tough and there are many long, hard days – but looking back, it really is worth it and there is absolutely nothing I would rather be doing. I am so grateful for the support I have received from my family, friends, co-residents, and staff – I would never have made it here without them.

Q2) 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 am excited to be headed to Toronto to do a combined research/clinical fellowship in MIS & Bariatric Surgery!

Q3) What are you going to miss the most about residency?
I am definitely going to miss my co-residents! We have an exceptionally great group of residents at Dal. I know I have formed some life-long friendships to carry into my career but I will miss the day-to-day experience of having a group of friends to commiserate with when things get tough. I don’t think any other workplace fosters quite that degree of camaraderie.

Q4) 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 did my medical school at Dalhousie as well. I entered clerkship not interested in surgery at all but my General Surgery rotation totally changed my mind. I rotated on a busy acute care service with some really great residents and fell in love with the specialty.

Q5) What is the most memorable thing that you have done outside of surgery in the last five years?
Last year my partner Keith and I adopted a rescue puppy from St. Lucia – Angus. He keeps us busy but he’s lots of fun and loves to snuggle.

Q6) What was your most memorable night on call?
I can’t say there is one single night that stands out. I remember all of the disaster cases and bad traumas. I also remember the terrifying responsibility of those first few shifts as a senior, booking cases in the middle of the night and hoping you were making the right call in dragging everyone out of bed to the OR.

Q7) What was the absolute funniest moment during your residency?
So much becomes inappropriately funny when you’re sleep deprived. One particular night that sticks out involved a delirious, topless patient who escaped the ward and was found trying to dodge security by swinging a kettle around her head as a weapon.


Q8) How about the scariest moment during your residency?
As a PGY2 on Thoracics, in the middle of the night I was putting a chest tube into a patient with very symptomatic pleural effusion. After the tube went in, it drained bloody fluid and the patient suddenly decompensated. It turns out the tube was in fine position, but the patient had a terrible malignant effusion and she unfortunately did poorly after that. I will never forget that sinking feeling – worrying that what I just did to the patient had caused a bad outcome. I still feel this to some degree every time a patient I am involved with has a complication.

Q9) Do you have any call superstitions or routines?
I am not generally superstitious, but even I won’t use the “q” word.

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?
In no particular order:
– When in doubt, just go see the patient! You will never regret it.
– Try to go into every consult, clinical encounter, trauma, or OR with the attitude that it is a valuable learning opportunity that will make you a better doctor. It’s hard to think this way at 3 am but there is almost always something to be learned if you’re open to it.
– Try to be nice to people. It makes everyone’s day so much more enjoyable.
– Lean on your co-residents when you’re struggling. We all have bad days and share similar self-doubts – it’s okay to talk about that.
– Don’t forget to make time for your family and friends outside of medicine – it is so easy to get consumed by this job but you need to work at maintaining those relationships.

Q11) What would your juniors say is the best thing about you?
I think they would say that I’m nice and easy to work with – but probably a little controlling. I’m working on that.

Q12) Rapid fire:

  • What do you listen to in the OR? Whatever the staff or nurses pick! If I am trying to focus I find a lot of music distracting, so I would prefer silence or something calm and instrumental.
  • What is the operation you dislike the most? Hartmann’s reversal
  • What is the operation you like the most? Lap right hemi
  • What is your favourite medical TV show? I really loved Grey’s Anatomy in high school. It pains me to watch it now.
  • What is your go-to surgery textbook? Sabiston’s
  • What is your post-call ritual? Nap, spin class, and hanging out with my dog Angus. Lately it’s also included studying :/
  • What is your favourite “go-to” food on call? Honestly I’m pretty boring and try to bring meals from home most of the time. Lots of coffee is obviously a necessity. Chocolate never hurts!
  • White coat or hoodie? White coat
  • Single or double glove? Double
  • Dry scrub or wet scrub? Wet scrub for first case, then dry after that
  • Trauma laparotomy or elective Whipple? Trauma laparotomy
  • Open inguinal hernia repair or laparoscopic? Laparoscopic
  • Monocryl or skin staples? Monocryl
  • Perianal abscess I+D or ingrown toenail????? Definitely perianal abscess