The Balancing Act
Dr. Paola Fata wears many hats in and out of the Montreal General Hospital (MGH), where she is mainly known as a general and trauma surgeon. She also serves as Assistant Dean, Resident Affairs, and has been elected President of the Canadian Association of General Surgeons (CAGS).
Where does she find the time to do it all? The answer is simple.
‟When it all makes sense, you find the time. And all these roles are related; they sort of complete each other” explained Dr. Fata.
As Assistant Dean, Dr. Fata advocates for residents and helps them seek mediation, manage mistreatment and request transfers. As a teaching hospital, surgeons at the MGH, like Dr. Fata, see how much pressure is placed on residents. In the pursuit of better medicine and patient care, the wellness of the next generation of doctors and surgeons is critical, and as Assistant Dean, Dr. Fata makes a difference.
Dr. Fata’s impact is also felt through her long-time involvement with the CAGS. As President-elect, she advocates for her peers and raises the standards at McGill and nationally, as the CAGS sets policies and directions for general surgery all across Canada.
Surgery as a team effort
Dr. Fata’s main role remains at the Montreal General Hospital, where she practices medicine as surgeon, specialised both in trauma and general surgery.
‟There is something very humbling about surgery, and even more with trauma surgery: being able to take a patient that has life threatening injuries and using all your knowledge and skills to address their injuries rapidly and definitely. Our work as surgeons is also about being there for a family when a patient is at his most critical point. Nothing is more rewarding than helping a patient and family through this event.”
She chose the specialty because of its uniqueness and the fact that you get to see directly the difference and impact of your work on patients. She also enjoys the challenge of trauma surgery and the rush that comes with it as interventions have to be done rapidly.
‟Trauma is all about the team of people who do this kind of specialised care. Like in many other medical specialties, the team dynamic is very important. At the MGH, our team members are all exceptionally competent and highly skilled. I’m proud to say that we have the lowest mortality rate in the province among all trauma centres. As a Level one trauma centre, we have to stay on top of our game to ensure that our patients get the best care possible and it all starts with a devoted team.”
Our interview ended as she had to attend a parent-teacher meeting at her son’s school, reminding us that she, like many of the surgeons and medical staff at the MGH, is a parent before anything else.