Rural Surgeon Profile – Dr. Cait Champion

Dr Cait Champion

Practice Location: Parry Sound, ON


Undergraduate – BScH (Environmental Science) Acadia University (2007)

Medical Degree –  MD University of Toronto (2012)

General Surgery – FRCSC, CIP University of Ottawa (2019)

Other – MSc (Health Systems) University of Ottawa (2016)


How did you get interested in rural surgery?

I have always enjoyed working from a community-based and systems perspective, which complements rural surgery practice.  I grew up in Toronto but spent my summers living in Alma NB, a tiny fishing community of 200 people next to Fundy National Park, where I developed an appreciation for the people and lifestyle of a rural community.  I subsequently pursued an Environmental Science degree at Acadia University, also in a small community, where I developed a passion for community-based research with a focus on Inuit communities in Nunavut.  When I began medical school I had initially thought I was going to be a rural Family Physician, but found my passion for procedural generalism in General Surgery.  My MSc work in the Northwest Territories on colorectal cancer screening access solidified my enthusiasm for rural surgery and the desire to support patients in rural and remote communities in accessing high quality surgical care as close to home as possible.


How did you pursue training in rural surgery?

During my residency training I sought out community electives in Yellowknife and Pembroke as a PGY-3, and during my 4th year electives spent time in Whitehorse as well.  I also pursued 4th year electives in larger centres with few residents, Peterborough and Charlottetown, where there were supportive General Surgeons who were also able to connect me with ENT, GI, OB and Urologists who helped me gain additional procedural skills in areas such as tonsillectomies, GI bleed endoscopy, c-sections and cystoscopy.  I have been fortunate to be in a training program that has been exceptionally supportive of my career goals.  I was able to identify specific competencies I wanted to achieve based on my experiences in smaller rural centres and in speaking to rural surgeons, and my Program Director and other mentors made a point of connecting me with the right people to make it happen.


What advice would you give to medical students/residents interested in rural surgery?

Rural surgery provides a unique and rewarding generalist career opportunity to engage in your community in a very meaningful way.  I can’t think of another area of General Surgery where you are part of the entire life cycle of a community, from birth to palliative surgery and everything in between that includes curing cancer, cancer prevention, trauma surgery, acute care surgery, and helping with annoying but impactful quality of life issues like haemorrhoids.  You really get to do it all!  Rural communities also offer unique recreational and cultural opportunities, particularly in working with Indigenous communities, that don’t exist in larger centres.   I also find the opportunity to build impactful community-based health projects exciting, as it’s far easier to gather 10 people around a common goal than 100!  I think all medical students and residents would benefit from experience in a rural community, both from a clinical and leadership development perspective.


What are you looking forward to in your surgical career?

For all of the reasons mentioned above, I’m so looking forward to starting my rural surgery practice in Parry Sound, ON.  I’m looking forward to continuing to develop my skills and expertise as a procedural generalist, and am fortunate to have a supportive work environment and great colleagues to help me out along the way.  I’m also fortunate that practicing in Parry Sound comes with the opportunity to join the faculty of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM), which will support my continued involvement in rural and remote surgical access research.  I’m all about the partnerships, so let me know if this is something that interests you too!



Are you a trainee interested in pursuing rural surgery?

CAGS Rural Surgery Workforce Development Initiative can help connect you with people and communities to support your training and in finding employment after residency