Learning from our learners

North York General Hospital has a proud history of teaching and learning. The Pulse sat down with Dr. Rowan Henry, a family medicine resident, to find out what sets the hospital apart, what he has learned, and why teaching enhances the care we provide to our patients and families.

Rowan Henry, family medicine resident at North York General Hospital
Family medicine resident Dr. Rowan Henry
When did you begin your rotation at North York General?

I started in July 2013 and it's been an amazing experience. The hospital is a great combination of being both a close-knit community hospital, as well as being a large, academically focused teaching hospital. The residents work one-on-one with medical staff, who are really focused on teaching and providing excellent patient care. There is a real focus on learning the latest evidence-based best practices.

There's an academic vibe at North York General — a vibe that feels like everyone wants to learn more and to be better physicians.

Why did you decide to come to North York General? 

I completed medical school at Queen's University, but my wife, my family, and I have always lived in Toronto. What brought me to North York General for my residency training was the Emergency Medicine Department here, which is known to provide excellent training (I have a special interest in Emergency Medicine), and the opportunity to study in a block residency system – meaning my training would consist of focused month-long specialty rotations, such as obstetrics.* I prefer immersing myself in one subject at a time.

The hospital is ideal for family medicine residents, as the specialty rotations aim to provide tailored learning experiences for future family physicians. For instance, during our General Surgery rotation, we are given the option to schedule our days in outpatient surgical clinics, instead of in the operating room. Unless, of course, you have an interest in surgical assisting, then you are welcome to train in the operating room. They're very accommodating to our specific training needs.

What do you think is the most important thing you've learned at North York General?

I've learned that medical care is more than just textbook medicine. I've witnessed time and time again at this hospital that providing care is not just about diagnosing and treating a disease. It's about building a rapport with patients and families, learning their goals of care and treatment priorities, and treating the “whole patient“ with these in mind. The teachers who I admire are the ones who get to know the patients rather than simply tell them what treatments they require.

In your opinion, does the fact that North York General focuses on academics benefit our patients in any way?

Certainly. I think patients benefit from the teaching atmosphere in many ways. First, as teachers, North York General physicians and staff must stay on top of the latest evidence-based medicine, which in turn results in improved care. Also, there's no question that as a resident, I have the luxury of spending more time with patients. This means I get to learn more about their current situation and particular needs to help assist in their treatment. Finally, as a resident, I may approach a case with “fresh eyes,” and can provide a different perspective than the staff physician.

What does the future hold for you after your rotation here?

I'm heading back to Queen's University for an extra year in an Emergency Medicine fellowship. After that, I plan to return and work in an emergency department in Toronto.

Like the one at North York General?

I hope so! Definitely. It's an excellent team and known for great teaching and great people.

Thanks for your time, Rowan.

My pleasure.

*Editor's note: another style of family medicine residency provided at Toronto-area hospitals is a longitudinal model where residents intersperse prolonged periods in family medicine clinics with occasional time spent on specialty rotations.

The Pulse banner This article first appeared in the May 2015 issue of The Pulse, North York General Hospital's community newsletter. See the issue  and subscribe.