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Distributed Resident Profile: D. MacDonald & M. Briggs

Dr. Donovan MacDonald and Dr. Meredith Briggs are the two first year resident physicians in the FRCPC Emergency Medicine program, both training in Victoria, BC. Resident Doctors of BC had the opportunity to discuss with them why they both chose to train in one of BC’s many distributed sites.

donovan and meredith victoriaDonovan and Meredith, can you tell me about where you grew up and did your education prior to residency?

Donovan MacDonald: I grew up like most prairie kids – on a farm outside of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. There, I completed medical school at the University of Saskatchewan. I loved the mid-sized city environment of Victoria where it is easy to escape the urban setting. And I was drawn to the people! The other residents sold the site to me, and their experience was consistent with what my ideal training setting looked like.

Meredith Briggs: I grew up in Vancouver, but often vacationed on Vancouver Island and always wanted to live here.  I went to UBC for my undergraduate education, and worked abroad for a year with a non-profit organization in Mumbai, India, before undertaking medical school at Queens University.

From your point of view, what are some of the benefits of training at your site?

Donovan & Meredith: There is a small resident group with little prior connection to Vancouver Island, which creates a family-like relationship amongst our peers. It’s also one of the few training programs on Vancouver Island, and therefore we are often working exclusively one-on-one with staff both on and off service. The staff get to know us as individuals and take a vested interest in our education, as well as our life outside of work. This allows us to get hands-on experience on every rotation, with a focus on emergency medicine patients and presentations.

What are your future plans in medicine?

Donovan: I plan to work at an academic teaching centre in Canada and play a formal role in training the next generation of physicians. I hope to become a respectable, dependable, and contributing member of the emergency medicine community. Outside of work, I plan to travel the world! I recently returned from Mardi Gras in New Orleans – that was a hoot! I will also undoubtedly spend time with my family back home in Saskatchewan, including my incredible little niece, Alice Simone!

How do you achieve wellness during residency? What are some of your hobbies?

Donovan: I exercise, socialize, explore the city and the outdoors. Some of my hobbies include cooking, snowboarding, surfing, hiking, golfing, soccer, and hockey.

Meredith: My hobbies also include being the only female resident in the Victoria Emergency Medicine program.

Are there any broader issues in medicine that you have seen in your day-to-day care for patients?

Donovan & Meredith: We have encountered BC’s opiate crisis on a regular basis since moving to Victoria in June 2016. During every emergency department shift, we encounter a patient with an opiate overdose requiring administration of naloxone (opiate reversal agent) by the pre-hospital or hospital staff.

Another important issue is hospital over-crowding, leading to long ER wait times and poor flow through the department. This is frustrating for patients, and challenging for healthcare providers.

Do you have any mentors or physicians that you look up to or who serve as a good role model?

Donovan: I’m inspired both by our new-grad hires and our most experienced staff members alike. New staff physicians are not far removed from our position as resident physicians, so they can easily identify with our journey and our struggles. The senior staff members have outstanding work and personal life experience, and they are happy to impart clinical pearls or life wisdom for our impressionable minds! Our staff are a special bunch but I have to give a shout out to Drs. Nathan Ashmead, Ross Hooker, Dennis McElgunn, and Bruce Campana.

Meredith: My role models include my amazing co-residents in Victoria, our program director Dr. Helen Ross, and all of our amazing emergency medicine staff – specifically Dr. Denis McElgenn who is the coolest, most passionate emergency physician ever.


As part of this year’s 16th annual Resident Awareness Week (February 6 to 10), we highlighted the role of resident doctors in healthcare for our patients. This article is courtesy of Dr. Emily Stewart, Board Director and Advocacy Committee Chair.

author: Melissa Nilan