“Trust the process” – a promise that our assistant Program Director (PD), Jen Leppard, makes on our first day of the EM year. I am new here, and I am nervous. But, as I walk into the ED, this feeling quickly vanishes, as I am reminded of what drew me to Ottawa in the first place – the teaching. Throughout the year, I get to work with EM preceptors who are world-class clinicians, world-class educators, and world-class researchers. Above all else, they are kind, and I am lucky to have such role models.

I move on to Call for the Coronary Care Unit (CCU), my first off-service rotation in critical care. There is a Code Blue on my first day, and as I run to the Code, my FRCPC co-resident runs with me. He turns and says, “You got this, and I got your back.” I walk into the ED the next day, where another co-resident comes in early to show me around the resuscitation bay. In Ottawa, everyone wants to help you succeed.

Our academic curriculum is truly second to none. On academic full days, we are taught by leading experts in EM, from those who wrote the most recently published guidelines or textbook chapters in Tintinalli’s. Skill-building boot camps include high-yield procedures, a plastic surgery hand-lab, and a pre-hospital training day with paramedics for in-situ simulation. We have 8-10 high-fidelity simulation days throughout the year, catering to our learning interests and future practice settings. Journal Club is held once monthly to review the latest evidence, with discussion led by our research experts, who are also committed to helping you complete a QA project by the end of the year. I take a break from reading to head to the ED to complete my PoCUS scans. “Tilt your probe this way” – did I mention we have dedicated faculty and fellows who teach as part a robust certified PoCUS curriculum? Enough gall bladder for now, I rest before my practice oral tomorrow morning, which we have weekly to help prepare us for the CCFP-EM exam.

It’s November, and I am tired. “Trust the process”, Jen says, and my experience of Emergency Medicine begins to broaden. Core rural, community orthopedics, and elective blocks are integrated into the year, providing the opportunity to push my clinical skills and reasoning in more resource-limited settings.  A new “mentorship night” connects us to community leaders in the surrounding Ottawa area, to those I get to work with and call my colleagues today.

It’s March, and I am ——————-  COVID. A PANDEMIC. It hits, and everything changes. ————–

And yet. While it is easy for a program to be supportive when everything is easy, it is when things became challenging, that I was most grateful to be part of this one. Our academics quickly transitioned to an online platform, and our PDs made sure we stayed safe, connected, and kept learning through it all.

It’s June, and I feel bittersweet. Just like your last days of vacation – when you’re having fun, learning, not wanting to say goodbye to the friends you’ve made, but know that it’s time to face the real world. In truth, if you take the leap of applying to the enhanced skills program, you will thrive no matter where you go. But, in Ottawa, you will always be pushed to reach for your best, and will be given the resources, support, and mentorship to pursue this. Eventually, you will realize that “your best” is not an attainable goal in one year’s time, or maybe ever, and this is the point. Instead, you will learn one better: that medicine is chock-full of uncertain moments, and this is actually the most interesting part, because it is the part where you grow. I leave confident knowing that I am able to provide safe patient care across a variety of settings, whether rural, community or tertiary, equipped with the skills, knowledge and a pocket book of “2 AM calls” I have been gifted here. The best part? I cannot wait to keep discovering the unknown. And I say, BRING IT ON. “Trust the process”, she said. She was right.

Tiffany Lam

Tiffany Lam

Tiffany Lam is an Emergency Physician after having recently completed the CCFP-EM training program from the University of Ottawa, Department of Emergency Medicine.