Mackenzie Lees

May 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? 
Chief year has been a long time coming (courtesy of 2 additional CIP years) and now that it’s here, it’s slightly terrifying!  Residency has definitely been an arduous journey, but I’m very proud of all that I have accomplished and learned, and I’m really looking forward to starting the next phase of my career!

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’m heading to Halifax, NS to start my fellowship in Pediatric Surgery and I am so incredibly excited! I have been working towards this since day one and matching to peds surg felt like winning the lottery!

Q3) What are you going to miss the most about residency?
Having my co-residents to vent with.

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 went to the University of Alberta for medical school.  I wanted general surgery, in particular peds, from day one of medical school. I always knew that I wanted a hands-on and fast-paced specialty, while also enjoying the actual organs and pathophysiology seen in general surgery.  Additionally, I grew up in a medical family and had early exposure to both general and pediatric surgery, which definitely helped sway my decision.

Q5) What is the most memorable thing that you have done outside of surgery in the last five years?
My engagement and adopting my two dogs

Q6) What was your most memorable night on call?
My first ED thoracotomy as an R2 for a stab wound into the right ventricle.  I remember feeling like I was in a crazy episode of Grey’s Anatomy and had such an adrenaline rush. And the patient lived!

Q7) What was the absolute funniest moment during your residency?
I can’t think of one specific moment, but I have had some funny moments with co-residents while on call and deliriously tired.

Q8) How about the scariest moment during your residency?
So many scary moments! First call shift as a senior resident, first solo operation without staff in the OR, and probably the scariest moment to come is the Royal College exam – eek!

Q9) Do you have any call superstitions or routines?

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?
Try to decide what you want to do early on in residency, whether it’s community surgery or a sub-specialty fellowship, and plan accordingly (research, electives, USMLEs, etc) – it will save you some stress as a senior!

I also think that general surgery is one of the more difficult residencies and being happy outside of the hospital makes the tough days at work a little more bearable.  Find a hobby, keep in touch with friends and family, use your vacation and flex days – make time for the things that keep you happy and sane!

Q11) What would your juniors say is the best thing about you?
No idea…although they would probably say I talk about my dogs too much! haha

Q12) Rapid fire:

  1. What do you listen to in the OR? Whatever the staff puts on!
  2. What is the operation you dislike the most? Anything related to trauma
  3. What is the operation you like the most? Open pyloromyotomy
  4. What is your favourite medical TV show? Scrubs
  5. What is your go-to surgery textbook? Does UpToDate count?!
  6. What is your post-call ritual? Cuddling with my dogs and sleeping
  7. What is your favourite “go-to” food on call? Candy
  8. White coat or hoodie? Hoodie – I’m always cold
  9. Single or double glove? Finally converted to double gloving in PGY-5
  10. Dry scrub or wet scrub? Dry
  11. Trauma laparotomy or elective Whipple? Definitely a Whipple
  12. Open inguinal hernia repair or laparoscopic? Open
  13. Monocryl or skin staples? Monocryl
  14. Perianal abscess I+D or ingrown toenail????? Perianal abscess – so much more satisfying than a gross toenail