It is your Chief year! Did you ever believe this year would come? How would you reflect on the journey overall thus far?
I always figured I’d end up here but am surprised at how quickly the time flew by. I remember looking at my chiefs as a fresh faced R1 and being in awe of their skills and knowledge, thinking I’d never get on that level. They set a high bar to aspire to, and even though I still don’t feel like I’m quite there yet, the difference in confidence and competence is astounding.
So what is next? Where are you off to in July?
I am pursuing a fellowship in Critical Care Medicine at Western, and actually have completed one year of it already. I have the second year of my fellowship waiting for me in July. Then, once I have a better idea of how I want to shape my practice, the job hunt begins in earnest.
What are you going to miss the most about residency?
The support and mentorship you get from your staff physicians can’t be overstated. As I begin to get more autonomy as a chief, I’ve started to realize how much their experience and advice affects your day to day decisions. And while I know any of my mentors are always an email or phone call away, nothing replaces the ability to talk about tough cases and decisions over coffee.
The other part I’ll miss is the camaraderie and support from fellow residents. Sharing the trials and tribulations of a challenging residency creates some strong bonds, and it will be hard to be separated by out career paths.
Where did you go to medical school and how did you come about the decision to specialize in General Surgery?
I went to medical school at Western, though it was still the University of Western Ontario when I started. I always knew I wanted to do something hands on, and surgery was high on that list. Truthfully though, when the surgery clerkship rotation started, I was completely overwhelmed. I was the most lost, helpless clerk and felt like I was in so far over my head that I’d almost given up on surgery as a career path. Despite all that, I realized later in clerkship that I wouldn’t be happy doing anything else, so I lined up my electives and committed to the surgery path. Thankfully by then, I had my head on straight enough to match, and the rest is history.
Where did you grow up and what did you do in your life before medicine?
I grew up in the GTA and have really been a career student up to starting medicine. Unfortunately, hobbies tend to go by the wayside in the chief year, but maybe next year I’ll try something new.
What is the most memorable thing that you have done outside of surgery in the last five years?
A trip around Iceland in my first year of residency was incredible, with some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen in my life. Not a cheap trip, but I still can’t wait to go back there some day.
What was your most memorable night on call?
It was technically day time, but I doubt I’ll forget my first (and currently only) resuscitative thoracotomy any time soon. It wasn’t slick, it wasn’t pretty, but it worked well enough to get the patient to the OR and the ICU after.
What was the absolute funniest moment during your residency?
Nothing appropriate enough to publish in a reputable journal such as this.
How about the scariest moment during your residency?
We had a patient unexpectedly (and quite vigorously) cough mid-laparotomy. Small bowel flew at least a foot out of the abdomen, and I let out a less-than-manly scream. Sure, it’s funny in hindsight, but visions of the face-huggers from Alien were all I could see in the moment.
Do you have any call superstitions or routines?
We don’t say the q-word, we don’t write the q-word, we don’t even think the q-word. If the night is busy, I buy dinner for the team. If it isn’t, I’ll usually creep the ER patient list by complaint to see if any trouble might be brewing before going home.
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?
I would say make sure it is what you want. Medicine, and surgery specifically, is a career path lined with sacrifice, and when you reach the end of that path, you may well end up at a destination you weren’t expecting. That said, if you enjoy the journey and keep an open mind, you’ll be just fine. Lastly, find a mentor, whether it is a staff physician, a senior resident or even a surgeon in another specialty, to help guide you through the trials and tribulations of your residency.
1. What do you listen to in the OR?
The soundtrack to the cinematic masterpiece, Pacific Rim.
2. What is the operation you dislike the most?
Any take-back, whether for bleeding or leak.
3. What is the operation you like the most?
There is something satisfying about a neat, tidy hernia repair.
4. What is your favourite medical TV show?
Scrubs, by far. I quote it on a near daily basis.
5. Favourite post-call activity?
Sleeping and eating. Not necessarily in that order.
6. What is your favourite “go-to” food on call?
7. White coat or hoodie?
8. Single or double glove?
9. Dry scrub or wet scrub?
10. Trauma laparotomy or elective Whipple?
Trauma laparotomy all day
11. Inexperienced junior resident or inexperienced ER staff?
A seasoned junior keeps inexperienced ER staff in check.
12. Open inguinal hernia repair or laparoscopic?
13. Monocryl or skin staples?
Depends on surgery, size of wound and time of night.
14. Perianal abscess I+D or ingrown toenail?????