Resident Doctors of BC represents over 1,300 residents in British Columbia. Residents are medical school graduates undergoing postgraduate specialty training to become independent medical practitioners. While we learn from doctors, other healthcare professionals, and patients. At the same time, we pass our knowledge and experience onto the medical students we mentor and teach.
As part of this year’s 16th annual Resident Awareness Week, we are highlighting the role of resident doctors in caring for patients. Here, Dr. Emily Stewart (Resident Doctors of BC Board Director and Advocacy Committee Chair) interviews Dr. Louai Musa, a UBC resident training at one of our many distributed sites.
Louai, can you tell me about where you grew up and did your education prior to residency?
Louai Musa: My parents worked in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) so I spent the majority of my childhood growing up there. We moved to Toronto when I was 14 years old,. I completed my undergraduate degree at McGill University followed by medical school at the University of Toronto.
What is your area of training?
Louai Musa: I am a first year Family Medicine resident training in Abbotsford, BC.
Why did you choose Family Medicine?
Louai Musa: I chose to pursue Family Medicine for many reasons! I love forming a relationship with my patients by getting to know their stories over their lifetime. Family medicine offers this unique opportunity to care for people from childhood into old age.
In Family Medicine, I get to know the community that I live and work in. This ties into my interest in advocacy and passion for social issues.
Plus, there is no way to know everything there is to know in Family Medicine, so I am always learning. I’m certainly up for the challenge!.
Why did you choose to move to Abbotsford, BC?
Louai Musa: I deliberately sought placement in the Abbotsford program. It hits the sweet spot of what I was looking for: big enough to have different specialties and a good volume of patients to see, but small enough so each resident get a lot of clinical experience. In coming to British Columbia, I also wanted to get to know a healthcare system different from to what I knew in Ontario.
Also, as I’m interested in rural family medicine, I wanted to take part in a program that will train me to practice a full spectrum of family medicine. By “full spectrum” I wish to be a family doctor who sees patients in their own clinic, takes care of them in the hospital, and works in some emergency medicine as well.
From your point of view, what are some of the benefits of training in a smaller setting than you were previously used to?
Louai Musa: One of the great things about working here is our super supportive program director, Dr. Holden Chow. Preceptors and staff also take the time to teach us and involve us with interesting cases or procedures.
Another neat aspect about training here is the flexibility to do 1 in 4 night call during the 2nd year of the program. We can do this in any area of interest to fulfill any specific learning objectives (for example obstetrics, emergency medicine, hospitalist, ICU).
We also complete a minimum of two to four months of rural Family Medicine as part of our training; I will be spending two months in Inuvik and hopefully another month in Newfoundland and Labrador. There is also a doctor here Dr. John Pawlovich that I would would like to work with because of his unique practice. Every few months he travels to Takla Landing where he works as the family doctor, and when he returns to Abbotsford he continues to take care of the patients via telemedicine.
What are your future plans in medicine?
Louai Musa: I hope to practice rural family medicine somewhere in Canada. I also plan to take part in some global health work abroad, as well as contribute to quality improvement and social advocacy. I picked up filmmaking recently, so perhaps I can combine this skill with my interest in social advocacy and community building.
How do you achieve wellness during residency?
Louai Musa: Sometimes it can be hard to find time to do the things you want to do to achieve wellness. I enjoy pickup basketball with other residents every other week when we have time. I am also in a long distance relationship with my partner, so talking to her regularly helps me relax and feel refreshed.
I recently started an online degree in film production. It’s a great outlet outside of medicine to learn about a different way of seeing the community and the world we live in.
What are some of your hobbies outside of medicine?
Louai Musa: Other than basketball and taking this filmmaking course, I like gardening (taking care of my little succulent plants!). I also listen to audiobooks and podcasts, which can supplement reading during residency and I can do it while driving. Some of favourite podcasts are: This American Life, The Memory Palace and The Moth.
Are there any broader issues in medicine that you have seen in your day-to-day care for patients?
Louai Musa: While caring for patients, the medical issues that I see often related to social determinants of health. What I’ve noticed more in BC is opiate overdoses, which is now an almost-daily occurrence. Given Abbotsford’s size, there is perhaps more substance use than I expected and this has been eye opening for me.
The other issue is the cost of medications. Paying for medications can be hard for many people. I remember treating a woman with severe lung disease who wasn’t taking her inhalers simply because she couldn’t afford them. As BC PharmaCare only partially covers the cost of many medications, I often find that people aren’t taking their medications due to cost,. As a result, they become even nore sick.
Do you have any mentors or physicians that you look up to, admire or serve as a good role model?
Louai Musa: There are so many people who I have learned a lot from and people who I see as role models that I can’t possible mention them all here. I completed a longitudinal clerkship during medical school in Toronto, and had two amazing preceptors who inspired me to pursue Family Medicine: Drs. Karen Weyman and Rory Windrim.
My Family Medicine preceptor here in Abbotsford, Dr. Stephen Hughes, has also been a great teacher and excellent role model. I learn from the way he compassionately interacts with patients, puts them at ease, and develops longitudinal relationship with them.
Article courtesy of Dr. Emily Stewart. Feature image (Abbotsford barn) courtesy of Tourism Abbotsford.