Lisa Bacque

February 2022

Memorial University of Newfoundland

Tell us about yourself:
I’m a fifth year General Surgery resident at Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN). I grew up in Ottawa and moved to St. John’s to do my undergrad degree in Biochemistry. I intended to try things out for one semester but absolutely loved MUN and living in St. John’s, so I stayed for my undergrad degree, and was lucky enough to be accepted into medical school and residency here. I met my husband, Matt, in undergrad and he is currently in his final year of Pediatrics residency at MUN. We now have a one-year-old son, Miles, two cats, Chester and Ghüs, and another baby anticipated in June!

Why did you choose a career in general surgery?
General Surgery was my first rotation in clerkship, and I loved it immediately. I loved the acute and the routine problems, and really admired the skill and knowledge of the staff and residents. The OR became my favourite place in the hospital, and I knew that I wouldn’t be happy with any other specialty in medicine.

What are your research or academic interests?
Honestly, my research background isn’t the strongest! I have been lucky to be involved in projects on endoscopy and bariatrics, but I think medical education and quality improvement is where my academic focus will be in my future career.

What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned throughout your training?
Look out for yourself! The hospital really can run without you if you are sick, need a vacation or are taking parental leave. Same goes for your education needs – never be afraid to advocate for yourself and ask for more exposure to things you don’t understand or don’t feel comfortable managing.

Do you have any call rituals?
I always have a clean pair of compression socks! Even with no sleep, if you can take 2 minutes to change your socks and brush your teeth, your whole shift feels just a bit better. And I always try to eat something during nursing handover time (if we aren’t operating). Even the busiest night can’t take supper away once it’s in your stomach!

What do you do for fun?
Fun looks a bit different with a one-year-old at home! Lots of blocks, cars and markers in our house these days. When the weather is cooperative, I love to get outside for hikes, and nothing beats a good book on a rainy day.

What are your career goals?
I am planning to be a community surgeon in rural New Brunswick. When I was thinking about fellowships, I didn’t want to do anything that would be too subspecialized and couldn’t find something that seemed like the right fit… and then realized that community practice was perfect for me. It also fits well with our family life but will still give me the opportunity to be involved with medical students and medical education.

If you could go back and give advice to yourself in medical school what would it be?
Travel more! Covid is coming…

If you could go back and give advice to yourself as a junior resident what would it be?
Be patient with yourself! It takes a lot of time to learn, and some things only make sense after you’ve seen them hundreds of times. I try to be honest with the junior residents about how long it took me to be comfortable with certain procedures or when I finally understood certain operations (inguinal hernias, anyone?). I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to know everything early on, and some things just take time and repetition.