Dear CaRMS Applicants,
You may not believe it now, but it is amazing how quickly the years of residency pass. One minute, you're carefully scouring Emergency Program websites, dreaming of the future. The next, you're apparently one of the Chief Residents, trying to capture the essence of your residency experience for a new set of budding Emerg Docs.
The day I matched was a defining moment for me personally and professionally. I became interested in Emergency Medicine relatively late in medical school, largely due to the fantastic experience I had in Winnipeg as an elective student. I met some awesome Docs, saw some wicked pathology and had a great time just hanging out in Winnipeg. As fortune would have it, Match Day rolled around and I was working a night shift as a newly minted intern in the Royal Adelaide Hospital ED when I got the news that I matched to my first choice – Winnipeg.
I'm proud to be a member of this amazing group. My colleagues in the program continue to amaze and humble me with their professional expertise and the depths of their characters. It goes without saying that our residents are academically strong, but what distinguishes this group is the wealth of outside interests and skills our residents possess. Amongst us there are several accomplished dancers, musicians, athletes and world travellers. The end result is that while medicine is a major part of our lives, our conversations can enter pretty much any topic and it makes for some very fun nights out.
The cohesion amongst the group has been a key part of my education. Junior, or Senior, we look out for each other. Residency is a challenging experience, especially Emergency Medicine where you are the definitely part of the frontline. Whatever the rotation, you can be sure that there will be several of your Emerg colleagues around that you can always turn to for advice should the need arise. I'm honoured to count several of the Emergency Residents among my closest friends.
Winnipeg is the major referral centre for the entire Province of Manitoba, Nunavut and North-Western Ontario. The result is that we have an incredibly large catchment area with a diverse population that has an equally diverse array of medical disorders. Emergency Residents in Winnipeg are exposed to pathology on a regular basis that is a rare event (or non-event) in many centres in Canada.
While clinical responsibility is elevated in a graded fashion, the level of autonomy you are given in Winnipeg early in your training is much higher than most centres in Canada. The wealth of pathology also allows for many opportunities to do procedures. By the end of my 3rd year, intubation, central lines, chest tubes and resuscitations had all became second nature. This is by no means a unique experience for a Winnipeg EM Resident. If you train in Emergency in Winnipeg, your clinical skills will be second to none.
Dr. Wes Palatnick has been our program director for the past 6 years and has been instrumental to the success of the program and its residents. He is a nationally respected physician and scholar and is a wealth of clinical knowledge. However, his most outstanding feature is his dedication to resident education and well-being. Residency often brings challenges to our lives that have nothing to do with medicine and Dr. Palatnick has graciously lent his assistance and wisdom to many current and former residents. Our program would not be where it is today without Dr. Palatnick.
In the past this was something that was lacking in our program. Due to the efforts of Dr. Erin Weldon (our Research Director) and Dr. Merril Pauls (our Ethics Director), the opportunities for research have improved greatly and continue to expand. Several of our Attendings and Residents are published authors and have presented at National and International conferences. The Department also employs a research coordinator and has access to University statisticians to assist us with the mechanics of our research projects.
Our EM Residents are exposed to teaching opportunities very early in residency. Supervising medical students is encouraged early in our training. Senior Residents are involved in supervising junior residents, medical students and are encouraged to “run the department.” More formal opportunities for teaching include delivering lectures for the Advanced Paramedic Course, Procedural Sedation course and speaking at the annual Manitoba EM Update. Many residents have also become ATLS and ACLS instructors.
A fledgling medical simulation program was started a few years ago by two of our recent graduates, Dr. Luke Terrett (now a Critical Care Fellow in Ottawa) and Dr. Cheryl ffrench. Simulation is now a regular feature of our Academic Day, with sim sessions occuring 1-2 times per month. Dr. Cheryl ffrench is our Simulation Director and her sessions have always generated high acclaim amongst the Residents and other Attendings.
An ultrasound education program was commenced this year under the stewardship of Dr. Chau Pham. We have a regular series of Academic Day sessions that teach us the theory and practice of ultrasound as it pertains to eFAST, vascular access, and cardiac, abdominal and pelvic pathology. Formal measures are also in place to ensure that all of our residents have official ultrasound credentials in place by the end of their residency.
The Province of Manitoba is the only Province in Canada that allows you to obtain a General Licence of practice after 2 years of training. The opportunities for practice with this licence are broad, with ICU, community/rural ER and Lifeflight (provincial air ambulance) being the most popular choices. In addition to padding your wallet with some extra cash, these moonlighting opportunities offer a unique scope of practice (often outside a tertiary care centre) and help to further enhance your autonomy and clinical accumen.
High Performance Physician Program
This has been an exciting and extremely unique addition to our program in the last few years. This initiative was pioneered by Drs Chau Pham, Shelly Zubert and Miteb Al-Githami, all Winnipeg graduates, and Dr. Cal Botterill, a highly respected national sports psychologist who has worked with Canadian Olympians and professional sports teams.
Dr. Botterill and his colleagues have put together a program that helps to teach us about the human factors that are just as important as factual knowledge in the practice of medicine. Dr. Botterill does this by applying the same principles to Residents as he does to high performance athletes and the response from the Emergency Residents has been enthusiastic.
On first blush, Winnipeg does not seem like a city with much to do, but this could not be further from the truth. It's true that if you came here as a tourist for a couple of days, the opportunities appear limited. It really takes living here to get acquainted with how much there is to do. Year-round, there is plenty to keep you busy outside of residency.
The summer is Winnipeg's festival season and Winnipeggers really make the summer days count with Folklorama, Folk Fest and The Fringe being the more famous events. The country around Winnipeg is filled with lakes and parks offering opportunities for watersports and camping. The winter brings Festival du Voyageur and River Canal Skate Track (with The Forks acting as a winter nexus of activity).
There is a disproportionately large Arts community in Winnipeg including the famous Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. My personal favourite is the potpourri of Manitoban artists that play everything from French-Canadian folk to hip-hop. Check out manitobamusic.com for an idea of just how much live music there is in this city on a daily basis. The big names also visit Winnipeg, playing the MTS centre and Canad Inns Stadium (the U2 concert was my favourite).
The return of the Winnipeg Jets has infused an already sport mad city with even more energy. While seats for the Jets may be hard (but not impossible) to come by, there are plenty of great sports bars to enjoy the game. The Blue Bombers and the Winnipeg Goldeyes keep the CFL and baseball fanatics happy and tickets for both are quite reasonable and accessible.
The Emergency Medicine program in Winnipeg has a national reputation for producing strong Emergency Physicians. Our graduates have gone on to work around the country and the response has always been the same – our graduates excel in Emergency Medicine and have a wealth of clinical experience that is far beyond their years. If you decide to train in Winnipeg, you will be exposed to amazing medicine and you'll have fun while doing it. Thank you for considering our program and good luck in your interviews. I look forward to meeting you during the CaRMS tour.
Dr. Hareishun Shanmuganathan