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Medical Students Are Learning Early about Surgery

Nada Gawad and sister Maya
Nada Gawad with her new adopted baby sister, 3 year old Durban South Africa native Maya

As a small child, Nada Gawad was at the University of Toronto daycare centre when her mother was completing a PhD in Optical Engineering. Nada took her first degree at the University of Ottawa. She traveled to Africa as an undergraduate, visiting Uganda, Kenya and Madagascar. She shadowed a doctor in the hospital in Madagascar and observed in the operating room. She was impressed by the idea that “you could fix things! And I am a tactile learner”. For her Honours project she did a clinical study with cardiac surgeon Frazer Rubens at the Ottawa Heart Institute, helped in his office, and shadowed him on clinical rounds. On entering medical school at the University of Toronto, she shadowed clinicians other than surgeons to broaden her education and solidify her conviction that should become a surgeon. She participated in the “One Day Matters” in general surgery doing paediatric surgery with Jack Langer once a week and subsequently performed a summer research study with him on surgical wait lists. With the International Federation of Medical Students, she went to Romania for further clinical experience, including thoracic surgery.

She has recently worked with Chairman Jim Rutka, setting up the SEAD (Surgical Exploration and Discovery) program (www.seadprogram.ca). 20 first year students have signed up for the SEAD to observe in one of the surgical specialties. Her needs assessment to see if this was attractive to pre-clerkship students revealed that 85% were interested.

Nada Gawad
Nada Gawad

Nada collaborated with fellow student Konrad Salata in a project to purchase pig skin suturing kits for 280 pre-clerkship students. They recruited 29 surgeons to help teach first and second year students suturing techniques. She got this idea from Skills Lab manager Lisa Satterthwaite. For a DOCH2 (Determinants of Community Health 2) project, she is working with Teodor Grantcharov at St. Michael’s on a project to introduce laparoscopic surgery to second year students.

Nada also worked with residents in Ottawa, giving feedback on laparoscopic techniques. Their procedures are captured on video. They give themselves a score as they review the video, then a surgeon advises them on how they might improve. They rescore their video and report that they have found this very instructive (more information can be found on http://www.seadprogram.ca/index.php). Nada hopes that this will become part of the formal curriculum for the medical students; she has been encouraged by pre-clerkship director Martin Schrieber. She is also working with Darlene Fenech on the curriculum for the Introduction to Surgery course. She performed a needs assessment with 500 students and a focus group with 10 students for her undergraduate education report to George Christakis.

Outside of the medical world, Nada enjoys Hip Hop Culture Shock Shop, and touch or flag football. She plays with the Meds football team in the city league. She has competed in hip hop contests and shows, including one in Los Angeles.

Martin McKneally


Michael Bond
Michael Bond

Michael Bond is a third year medical student, currently enjoying his elective surgical rotation on orthopaedic surgery. He has been interested in anatomy since highschool, when an inspiring biology teacher prompted him to think about structure and function. His interest was heightened by a kinesiology course in grade 12. As a Health Science major at McMaster, he focused on anatomy with a view toward entering medical school. He comes from a family of engineers and feels this may have oriented him toward his career goal in orthopaedic surgery. He loved learning in the clinic and in the operating room on general surgery, neurosurgery and orthopaedic surgery.

Michael has worked with Women’s College Hospital rheumatologist and chief of Medicine Gillian Hawker on research projects during two summers and intermittently during the school year. He will do electives next year to help decide where to pursue his goal of training in academic orthopaedic surgery. He hopes to do a graduate degree, probably in epidemiology. His role models have been surgeons and physicians who are excellent in their communications with patients, with the operating room staff and in the clinics. He hopes to become an academic surgeon with a focus is epidemiology and teaching. He feels that the surgical teaching that he has received on morning rounds, in the operating room, and in the clinics has been unique and inspiring. He is particularly complimentary about the near -peer teaching provided by surgical residents. He has been active in singing as an organizer and lead in the choir of the medical school musical Daffydil.


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