I was born in Durban, a town in South Africa with the motto ‘Debile principium meliorfortuna sequitur,’ which means ‘from humble beginnings better fortunes follow.’ This phrase accurately reflects my journey as a third-year Dalhousie medical student. Medicine and the workings of the human body are remarkable to study, but what is even more special are the unique relationships I have formed during clinical rotations and research experiences at the QEII Health Sciences Centre.

The QEII has facilitated many enriching encounters with healthcare professionals and most importantly, patients, who are the ultimate educators. It is an incredible privilege to be a part of a therapeutic relationship and to take part in the care of others. With this position of trust, I feel a heavy responsibility to provide the best possible treatment with a patient’s preferences directing care. I have been fortunate to witness the positive impact pioneering therapies can have on patients’ lives. This has fostered my desire to participate in innovative research that ensures patients receive high quality care.

Society has placed an inherent trust in physicians to respect, empathize, protect and treat all patients equitably. Empowering patients to be better decision-makers is the reason I joined the Choosing Wisely Canada (CWC) Campaign. CWC aims to make patients and healthcare providers aware of the dangers of unnecessary tests and investigations to promote patient safety.

I wear a pin on my lab coat that reads, “Ask me about Choosing Wisely.” This has prompted many inquiring conversations with patients who were delighted that I valued their perspective in the decision-making process.

My work with CWC will be expanded upon internationally in my executive role with the World Organization of Family Doctors and through an authored publication in the British Medical Journal Opinion.

“The QEII has facilitated many enriching encounters with healthcare professionals and most importantly, patients, who are the ultimate educators.”

Yaeesh Sardiwalla

I have been honoured to be influenced by exceptional QEII physician mentors, such as ENT surgeon extraordinaire Dr. David Morris. Dr. D. Morris taught me the art of physical examination and the etiquette expected of a physician.

We became research collaborators, publishing and presenting together, but furthermore we became colleagues. I never thought it possible to be invited to present research work in the Netherlands for an exclusively specialist ENT audience. It was then that I began to appreciate there was a potential for a medical student to not only stand in the shadow of research giants, but to forge meaningful relationships and stand next to them.

Surgery demands an unrelenting excellence and pursuit of perfection that excites me. The group of plastic surgeons that I have worked with embody these highly principled ideals and have demonstrated how research ought to be done in a cohesive, collegial manner. Dr. Steven Morris is an incredibly hard-working, meticulous and determined surgeon who emphasized the importance of independence and pursuing perfection.

Dr. S. Morris provided me the tools to lead an ambitious project documenting the history of Canadian Plastic Surgery through a series of interviews. He could sense my passion for the work and that was all the convincing required. I was captivated by the personalities captured in the 56 interviews I completed, so I naturally wanted more exposure.

I approached Dr. Jason Williams, a surgeon with an impeccable teaching manner, and Dr. Michael Bezuhly, who epitomizes professionalism, to examine wound healing. Plastic surgery was seemingly a specialty that knew no bounds and could make impossible reconstructive feats a reality.

Microsurgery, the field of connecting blood vessels and nerves, enchanted me. Dr. David Tang, a precise hand surgeon and devoted teacher, became a mentor in medical education exemplifying an honest demeanour that I one day hope to emulate.

Collectively, the impact of mentoring from these QEII surgeons has been powerful and my hope is to continue to learn from and be motivated by them. I have been incredibly fortunate to have had such a diversity of positive influencers that have all contributed valuable lessons.

I am defined as a doctor by my environment and the individuals that have shaped my education. Anticipating these influential experiences makes 4 a.m. wake-ups the exciting beginning of my busy days.