In our last edition of the Pulse newsletter, we identified the three outstanding individuals who won the Awards of Excellence. In this edition, we briefly interviewed them to understand what drives them, what their passionate about, and what advice they can impart onto the younger generation of residents, medical students, and aspiring doctors. Read on to discover the funny, passionate, and ambitious profiles of these three notable doctors: Dr. Peter Gee, Dr. Kevin Clark, and Dr. Joshua Gurberg.
Advocacy Award – Dr. Peter Gee
At the age of 7, Dr. Peter Gee set his sights on a career path. And in 2016, his hard work and unwavering resolve were recognized. This year’s winner of the Residents’ Advocate Award found his passion through preceptorship and becoming a site director. In the beginning, he recalled feeling excited and enthusiastic about the prospect of medical school, and the immense journey that he would need to take to gain the knowledge and skills needed to graduate. The sheer bulk of information was mitigated, however, through the inspirational, excellent clinicians and compassionate teachers. Dr. Gee also found joy in the “camaraderie and support of peers,” as with finding humor in every challenging situation. It is through this steady, easy-going mindset that enabled him to forge wonderful, rich, and enduring friendships in the continuum of his medical education. His demeanor made him a wonderful friend, but also a great teacher. Built on his foundational passions of working with people and medical education, his specific goal was to become a preceptor. This goal was not fulfilled overnight. In the UK, one cannot teach and train residents until three years of practice and a mandatory teaching course are completed. Thus, exactly three year’s post-graduation he welcomed his first Family-Medicine Resident. Dr. Gee explained how he brought about change through his teachings, specifically “by considering opportunities to make learning effective and fun, using evidence-informed teaching practices,” making his mentorship as much a science as it is an art. As much as he loves fighting and advocating on behalf of others, Dr. Gee makes sure to step back and advocate for his own well-being as well. He enthusiastically shared how he enjoys “the polar opposites of outdoor activities, including hiking, road and mountain biking, paddle boarding, skiing and skate skiing, and being a movie buff attending the cinema or watching movies at home.” He balances these activities “by spending time and energy with family and friends I deeply care about, naturally [filtering] direction and enthusiasm into my work.” Though he has achieved so much, the fight is not over for him or his co-workers. Dr. Gee notes, “I am in awe of the multitude of Preceptors who offer energy and enthusiasm to teach, and facilitate the education of our medical learners. This may often occur in office environments, which challenge the most basic desires for effective education, which is the creation and maintenance of a healthy learning environment.” Reminded by his previous educational experiences, he predicts that supporting community-based learning space may be a game-changer. Creating an office environment in which teaching transitions from making the best from often cramped, busy spaces to those in which medical learners and clinical faculty have robust and protected teaching space, he feel elevates and enriches the teaching experience. Despite these challenges and the challenges faced more generally by the medical community, Dr. Gee insists on three things: Keep learning, keep growing, keep having fun.
Excellency Award – Dr. Kevin Clark
Dr. Kevin Clark has won the Dr.Patricia Clugston Memorial Award, for Excellence in Teaching. What most people don’t know, however, is that he’s a teacher inside and out of the hospital. Didactic, consistent, and engaging, he embodies his philosophy of keeping life balanced in his teaching, and through his own lifestyle. Dr. Clark’s journey began when the student became the teacher: in grade school, where all aspects of his ideal career seemed to manifest in the medical field. The idea of spending one’s life doing something benevolent to society through helping others, but with the added benefits of it being a challenging, stimulating and dynamic career motivated Dr. Clark to follow his passion. With the added assurances of job stability and lifestyle, this profession’s path guided him through high school, university, and residency. The path was not without challenges. Dr. Clark explained how emergency medicine could “be a real grind sometimes, and quite exhausting shift after shift. I have certainly had ups and downs during my training and career.” He tackled the more abrasive aspects of his chosen field by building and maintaining a personal connection with family, friends, and colleagues, as well as ensuring he took time for himself: “Vacation time, getting away, and ensuring that on a routine basis I exercise and do other activities” allowed him to achieve a healthy work-life balance. Being a strong advocate for mental health and all the aggregate factors that form a healthy lifestyle, Dr. Clark ensures he himself practices what he teaches. Outside of the hospital, he loves to spend his personal time with his wife and two young daughters, getting away with them and watching them experience places and events for the first time. Before the responsibility and time commitment of children, he was a kite boarding enthusiast.
Now, he maintains an active lifestyle through hiking, road and mountain biking, swimming, running, training for races, skiing, and snowboarding. This impressive repertoire of activities is balanced through winding down with the relaxing pairing of a great movie and good red wine. “Mental Health, Mental Health, Mental Health” Dr. Clark repeats, in response to what issues he feels are underappreciated. He observed that “we keep seeing more and more [Mental Health Issues] in the emergency department, and I don’t think we are getting more options and resources…there has to be a better way to help these patients.” Despite funding and resource limitations, Dr. Clark strives to alleviate the complications of Emergency Medicine through his mentorship. To him, teaching the younger generation serves him just as much as it serves the students: it reminds him “of the idealism that we all start with when we set on our journey as physicians.” This idealism is the reason he enjoys mentoring residents in particular. This focused interest lead to the question of what advice he would give resident- Dr. Clark if he could go back in time to when he started. The advice was sound: “If you are going to do something, do it well, do it right, and take pride in it. And when it comes to patients, go the extra mile and ensure they are happy with you care.”
Award of Merit – Dr. Joshua Gurberg
In his youth, Dr. Joshua Gurberg wanted to be an actor or musician. It fed back into his desire to connect with people: He loved being able to hone a skill, and use it to bring happiness into someone else’s life. Now as a surgical resident, he has the opportunity to do that every day, in the most meaningful of ways. His impressive and ambitious outlook on residency has won him the Award of Merit, the gift that he gives on: He is donating the money from the award to the Rotary Hearing Foundation, which raises funds for deafness related research in British Columbia, as well as donating a portion to the Starlight Children’s Foundation. Dr. Gurberg’s generosity does not end there. He works hard at what he does. In fact, one of his favorite aspects of medicine is working to achieve excellence not only for patients through his practice, but also to train the next generation of doctors. He notes that, “Even though I am a learner myself, I also have the privilege at many times throughout a given day to be a teacher. I love seeing the look on a medical student’s face when they finally understand what they’re seeing through an Otoscope or the excitement of a junior resident after I’ve just walked them through their first tracheostomy.”
This passion towards his career feeds into his passion to spend his free time enjoying other aspects that bring one joy in life: he skis, cycles, plays music, cooks, and tries new restaurants with friends. He notes how in medicine, it can sometimes feel like the hospital is the only thing one has in their life. Especially “when a case doesn’t go well, or a patient has an unexpected complication, it helps to think back to that amazing meal you cooked for your wife, or the laugh you shared with your friends, and remember that there are important people in your life who don’t wear a patient gown or a white coat who care about you.” This self-reminder gives Dr. Gurberg the courage to go back, and try again, and become a better physician and a better surgeon. In terms of literally going back, Dr. Gurberg told Resident Doctors of BC what advice he would give if he could meet younger, beginning of residency Dr. Gurberg: he notes that he’s learned so many lessons from his friends and mentors over the past four years, some of which stand out more than others. A few of his favorites: “No one finishes residency wishing they had done less”, “A surgeon is a doctor who can operate and knows when not to” and “if you’re not getting in trouble every day, you’re just not getting caught.” What he takes away from these quotes is the notion that residency is a grueling experience, but also a fleeting period of time in which residents must learn everything they need in order to become competent physicians. Dr. Gurberg advises that “you have to look at every late night on call or difficult case as an opportunity. On the other hand, our apprenticeship is on people and it is our responsibility to do what is best for them. And finally, we need to be on the edge of our comfort zone to truly learn and progress.” Forever the avid learner, he finished with the thought of, “Still, I think if I met the younger me, I would hold back and give myself the chance to figure it all out for myself.”