Joe Margolick

December 2018

Joe is a great team player and an excellent surgeon with passion and care for each and every one of his patients. He is loved by everyone for his contagious sense of humour and his ability to make the best of every situation.”

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

I absolutely love my job. Every day I get to make patients feel better, save lives and work collaboratively with so many interesting and smart people. Being a doctor is a privilege but sometimes that feeling can be obscured by fatigue and stress. I can’t overstate just how inspirational some of my mentors have been in keeping me focused on the big picture. I draw a lot of inspiration from my co-residents as well. We’re a unit. We work collectively towards a common goal and over the past four-and-a-half years have made positive changes in the lives of so many patients. Also, my wife is an absolute champ for putting up with all this.

So what is next? 

I’m heading to Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas (UT Southwestern) for Trauma and Surgical Critical Care Fellowship.

What are you going to miss the most about residency?

The camaraderie with the other residents  – especially the surgical ones. The sense of shared accomplishment you feel with your colleagues after beasting through a tough case at 4 am or resuscitating a patient back to life.

Where did you go to medical school and how did you come about the decision to specialize in General Surgery?

I went to McMaster for Med School. The first decision point for me was knowing that I wanted to take care of sick and critically injured patients and that I wanted to work mainly in a hospital. I thought initially ER, but then fell in love with General Surgery because of the immense variety of procedures, pathology and ability to effect immediate change on the outcomes of patients in dire situations. I had amazing mentors in Hamilton and really looked up to the surgeons there – I still do. Drs Faidi, Hong, Kahnamoui, Sne and Reid, just to name a few, were instrumental in my decision to pursue surgery.

Where did you grow up and what did you do in your life before medicine?

I grew up in East Vancouver. I was obsessed with snowboarding, soccer and rugby. After undergrad I lived in Tel Aviv for a year and a half and met my wife there. I’ve had a lot of random jobs: research assistant, line cook at The Keg, tour guide in the Rockies, and high-heights construction worker and window cleaner. I love being outdoors – hiking, camping, being near mountains and also just hanging out with friends drinking beer at any local watering hole. But basically my spare time is spent with my wife and dog.

What is the most memorable thing that you have done outside of surgery in the last five years?

Getting married.

What was your most memorable night on call?

Being on a trauma surgery elective at the Red Cross hospital in Mexico City when we were hit by a massive earthquake. We were all working for the next 36 hours triaging and treating earthquake victims.

How about the scariest moment during your residency?

My first day and realizing I didn’t even know how to properly replace Magnesium.

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?

Keep your head down and grind it out. Try to complain as little as possible. Surgical residency is very tough, but it’s a formative experience that will make you a stronger person. Remember that no matter how stressed or tired you are, the patient in front of you is likely more worried and vulnerable that you. It’s a privilege to be able to do what we do and I feel it’s our duty to the population at large to train vigorously every day to become the best surgeons possible.


 1. What do you listen to in the OR?

Morning: Country Afternoon: Hip Hop Late night: Deep house

2. What is the operation you dislike the most?

Parastomal Hernia repair

3. What is the operation you like the most?

Repair of perforated  duodenal ulcer (Open of course)

4. What is your favourite medical TV show?

Never watched one

5. What is your go-to surgery textbook?


6. Favourite post-call activity?

Watching cartoons

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

Whatever I can scrounge from the lounge

8. Single or double glove?

Single, if I can get away with it

9. Dry scrub or wet scrub?

Depends on my mood

10. Inexperienced junior resident or inexperienced ER staff?

Junior resident…you can teach them.

Now, about your co-chief… 

What is their post call ritual?

Push-ups, then power nap, then more push-ups. Then probably watch Gladiator for the hundredth time.

What is their funniest moment in residency?

Doing a robotic Whipple…well, actually just making robot noises while operating.

What is their biggest pet peeve?


 What is your favourite thing to do together?

 Mobilizing livers

If you had to do a case together, what case would you choose?

Good Ole trauma lap, with medial visceral rotations and a splenectomy, liver packing and bowel stuff…the works.

 What is your favourite thing about them?

 Integrity and strength of character. He is always able to somehow prioritize family. He’s also a good surgeon.

Who is better at:

  • Laparoscopic suturing?
    • Joe
  • Left-handed tying?
    • Dean
  • Writing legibly?
    • When people see Joe’s handwriting they think he has hooves
  • Adulting post call?
    • Definitely Dean
  • Making people laugh when the going gets tough?
    • Definitely Joe