Q1) It is your Chief year! Did you ever believe this year would come? How would you reflect on the journey overall thus far?
When I started this journey, my hair was black and now it’s entirely grey and there’s nothing I can say about residency that isn’t summed up by that fact. The days are long, but the years are also long. Residency is such a transformative experience – one day you look back and you can’t believe how much you’ve learned (and how grey you’ve gone).
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 starting a fellowship in Surgical Oncology at the University of Toronto. It’s a dream come true.
Q3) What are you going to miss the most about residency?
The relationships you make with the people you go through residency with are incredible – that shared experience is so unique and transformative that those people end up being like family. Actually, my sister (pictured) started her ortho residency at UofT at the same time, so I literally went through it with my family (it was a nightmare for locating). That said, I am unequivocally happy to be finishing residency.
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’m an IMG, I went to St. George’s University in Grenada. I did my clerkship rotating through hospitals in Brooklyn. I went into clerkship thinking I wanted to do internal medicine, but it wasn’t for me. I loved the acuity of general surgery and how nothing really seemed to phase general surgeons – they could manage sick patients on the floor, in the ICU, and in the OR.
Q5) What is the most memorable thing that you have done outside of surgery in the last five years?
I did a PhD in the middle of residency and had an amazing time. I got to travel across North America presenting my work and had the time to take up new hobbies. I went to culinary school and taught myself to how to skateboard (badly). Most memorable of all, I didn’t carry a pager for over 3 years and I slept a full 8 hours in my own bed every night.
Q6) What was your most memorable night on call?
I’ve had four no-hitters in residency – four calls without a single consult. Do you know the rush you feel when you sense a no-hitter is in the making, but you can’t talk about it so you don’t jinx it? It’s exhilarating.
Q7) What was the absolute funniest moment during your residency?
The nights when I thought I was on track for a no-hitter and ended up getting destroyed by the ER. Not funny in the moment, but I suppose in hindsight.
Q8) How about the scariest moment during your residency?
That moment when you know you’re about to get pimped and you know you definitely won’t know the answer.
Q9) Do you have any call superstitions or routines?
All of them. Never talk about how well a case is going until it’s over, never mention a no-hitter during a no-hitter, and never – EVER – say the Q-word. Don’t even type it.
As for routines: prioritize dinner. Get that order in early. Even if it’s sitting in your call room for a couple of hours before you can eat it. There is no greater sense of defeat than the 2am tuna sandwich from the hospital coffee shop.
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?
- Block out all the noise and do whatever makes you happy. The job stuff will work itself out. Relax, everything will be just fine. (I hope. I don’t actually know this.)
- Don’t feel bad for going home and do whatever you can to get your colleagues out of the hospital when it’s their turn to go home.
- It gets better. Your pager goes off less and less as you become more senior
- Remember that even on your worst days, no one is being as hard on you as you’re being on yourself. No one is thinking about you as much as you’re worried they’re thinking about you.
Q11) What would your juniors say is the best thing about you?
My juniors would never say anything nice to my face. Behind my back it’s probably something like, “Buys food on call… but is always late to rounds.” Life is about balance.
Q12) Rapid fire:
- What do you listen to in the OR? De la Soul, Tribe Called Quest, Brand Nubian
- What is the operation you dislike the most? Any operation at 2am
- What is the operation you like the most? Lap anterior resection
- What is your favourite medical TV show? Scrubs is the only right answer here
- What is your go-to surgery textbook? Cameron’s has lines like, “Consider the pancreas. It toils quietly in the retroperitoneum, ceaselessly churning out proteins…” so I don’t really see how any other textbook can compete
- What is your post-call ritual? It used to be post-call breakfast burrito and nap, but my burrito place closed in PGY2 and I’ve never really gotten over it
- What is your favourite “go-to” food on call? UberEats delivery from my favorite West Indian roti place (shoutout to Allwyn’s on Queen st) unless a certain junior resident refuses to eat roti (you know who you are)
- White coat or hoodie? Hoodie on call, white coat in clinic
- Single or double glove? Always.
- Dry scrub or wet scrub? Dry scrub (but I usually try to glove before my hands are completely dry and they’re too sticky to be gloved properly and now the glove is on my hand all funny and the scrub nurse is looking at me like it’s my first time scrubbing)
- Trauma laparotomy or elective Whipple? Whipple
- Open inguinal hernia repair or laparoscopic? Open
- Monocryl or skin staples? What time is it?
- Perianal abscess I+D or ingrown toenail????? Perianal abscess