Mellissa Ward

November 2020

University of Manitoba


Q1) It is your Chief year! Did you ever believe this year would come? How would you reflect on the journey overall thus far? 

It’s been a long road getting here but it also seems to have flown by. I made it through 6 years of long-distance marriage so I’m looking forward to finally living in the same country as my husband.

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?
Next step: living with my husband (fingers crossed)! I’ve applied to the Trauma/Surgical Critical Care match. I won’t find out until October.

Q3) What are you going to miss the most about residency?
The people! I’ve spent 6 years here because of my masters so I’ve had some extra time to for these incredible friendships with my co-residents, the nurses and allied health staff.

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 Dalhousie through their Saint John campus. I started medical school thinking I would be a cardiac surgeon and realized after some early exposure that was not a good fit. I still loved the hands-on aspect of surgery but wanted more variety and flexibility. During my third year, I did a longitudinal integrated clerkship which allowed me to experience community general surgery. It was exactly what I wanted!

Q5) What is the most memorable thing that you have done outside of surgery in the last five years?
I ran my first half-marathon!  I was in my second year, on SICU, and had to move out of my apartment the weekend of the race. My wonderful husband came to visit for the week and took care of my move on the Friday. We spent Saturday putting the new apartment together and Sunday morning I had the race. It was a busy weekend off!

I also started procrasti-cooking. I learned to make jam, fed my co-residents, and would bring in baked good for the nurses regularly.


Q6) What was your most memorable night on call?
Our trauma call in Winnipeg is really busy. A night where you get some sleep is a rarity so when my pager and phone weren’t going crazy of New Year’s Day I was convinced it was broken. I heard a massive transfusion called in ER and was certain it was for me so I walked down to the ER, but it was a patient with an exposed and bleeding bypass graft. I stayed to help the ERP but that was the only thing I did that night. I slept 6 hours

Q7) What was the absolute funniest moment during your residency?
There are so many funny moments. The most recent is probably when the overnight attending was falling asleep during morning signover. The other attending didn’t notice and kept talking. The overnight attending then nodded himself awake and continued on with signover as if nothing happened.

Q8) How about the scariest moment during your residency?
The first time the staff wasn’t in the room for the case. I was PGY2 taking senior call with an anesthesia PGY1 and we were pretty busy, there was a patient that was peri-arrest on the ward and I was dealing with a trauma patient in ER when I get a call from my attending asking if I had someone to assist me with the chole that was on the board. I explained what was going on and so she briefed and was going to let me know when the case was ready to go. All I remember from that case is that it was the usual difficult acute care gallbladder and the attending would peak in the window every few minutes to see where I was but never come in the room.

Q9) Do you have any call superstitions or routines?
No superstitions.

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?
Be nice to everyone, we have a common goal of providing the best care possible.

Q11) What would your juniors say is the best thing about you?
I don’t know but I’d like to think they say I’m a supportive senior.

Q12) Rapid fire:

  • What do you listen to in the OR? Whatever is on, if I have a choice 90s pop
  • What is the operation you dislike the most? Laparoscopic low anterior resection – I hate working in the pelvis
  • What is the operation you like the most? Trauma laparotomy
  • What is your favourite medical TV show? I love bad TV (it’s a great escape) so definitely Grey’s Anatomy
  • What is your go-to surgery textbook? I like Greenfield’s best but for the exam I’m using Sabiston and Cameron’s
  • What is your post-call ritual? I like to make plans for random fun activities like raspberry picking or going to costco
  • What is your favourite “go-to” food on call? I love to cook so whatever I meal prepped that week
  • White coat or hoodie? Hoodie – it’s warm and has pockets
  • Single or double glove? Double glove for open cases. Single glove for laparoscopic.
  • Dry scrub or wet scrub? Dry
  • Trauma laparotomy or elective Whipple? Trauma laparotomy
  • Open inguinal hernia repair or laparoscopic? Open
  • Monocryl or skin staples? Staples
  • Perianal abscess I+D or ingrown toenail????? Perianal abscess – feet are the absolute worst!