Spotlight: Dr. Ameer Farooq

Dr. Ameer Farooq is a recent graduate of the UBC Colorectal Surgery Program. He received his medical degree from the University of Alberta, and his Masters of Public Health at the TH Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University. He is also the Associate Digital Editor of the Canadian Journal of Surgery, a co-host of the Cold Steel podcast, and Social Media Director for Evidence Based Reviews in Surgery.

Why Colorectal Surgery?

As a General Surgery resident, Dr. Farooq enjoyed all of his rotations, but he was drawn to the breadth and variety in colorectal surgery. He says he is also lucky to have found a wonderful community of mentors in colorectal and general surgery that fostered his interests and supported him every step of the way.

For medical students and residents who are uncertain which path to take,  his advice is to follow your gut and to ask those closest to you because “they see and remember what you’re passionate about and what you enjoy doing”. He also adds that it can be really helpful to reach out to those in specialties you are interested in and listen to their experiences. “It can be really daunting,” he adds, “but most people are happy to talk about their work”.

For those who are still unsure: “Pick colorectal surgery,” he jokes.

Colorectal Surgery Training at St. Paul’s

“It was a fantastic and irreplaceable experience.”

For Dr. Farooq, a lot of things made the program as amazing as it was: the high volume and variety of colorectal cases, the amazing mentors who were experts in complex and innovative colorectal procedures, and the humble, thoughtful, and innovative community at St. Paul’s Hospital and BC.

When asked about nearing the end of his training, Dr. Farooq fondly recalled the beautiful and calming view from the 10th floor service elevator and all of the amazing people he has worked with at St. Paul’s Hospital.

Moving Forward

Dr. Farooq’s next step is establishing his own independent practice in Abbotsford and focusing on taking care of his patients. He also plans on doing research on surgical decision making some day. But for now, his focus is on taking care of his patients and building a relationship with them and his community.

Last words for those interested in Colorectal Surgery

Dr. Farooq’s advice for residents who might be interested in pursuing Colorectal Surgery is to go for it! He also shares a quote from George Orwell:

“A human being is primarily a bag for putting food into; the other functions and qualities may be more godlike, but in point of time they come afterwards.”

To this he adds, “despite the amazing things human beings have achieved, we can’t lose the humility of realizing how fragile we are.”  He is also grateful for the privilege of being a confidant to patients for problems that may not be easy for them to share with everyone else. And he believes that everyone who goes into colorectal surgery should think about that and give patients respect and care in exchange for that trust.

Finally, a list of podcast recommendations from the podcast lover (and host) himself:

  • Behind the Knife
  • This American Life
  • The Dave Chang Show (check out the My Opinion is Fact segments!)
  • The Once and Future Nerd
  • The Truth
  • Armchair Expert with Dax Shepherd
  • Revisionist History
  • Legends of Surgery
  • The Strategist
  • The Anthropocene Reviewed (hosted by John Green)

Don’t forget to listen to Cold Steel: The CJS Podcast co-hosted by Dr. Farooq and Dr. Chad Ball as well!