Faculty Spotlight – Adrian Huang


Distal Extremities

Vancouver – St. Paul’s Hospital

Dr. Adrian Huang is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the UBC Department of Orthopaedics and an Orthopaedic Surgeon at St. Paul’s Hospital. Dr. Huang completed his orthopaedic surgery residency at the University of Ottawa and went on to complete two clinical fellowships: the first focusing on Orthopaedic Trauma and the second on Upper Limb Surgery.

Can you share a little bit about your educational background and journey, and how you got to where you are today?

I originally tried to escape medicine. I came from a family of doctors, and I tried hard to explore other careers to make sure I was doing it for me and not as an expectation or predestination. I took jobs in marketing and sales and did well, but eventually the lure of medicine, getting people back to their pre-injury lives, and the science of medicine was too much to ignore.

I am an international medical graduate (IMG) and studied in Ireland. I beat the odds and was one of six applicants to secure a residency spot back in Canada out of a pool of about 300. I completed my orthopaedic residency at the University of Ottawa and followed this with two fellowships, one in Orthopaedic Trauma at the Orthopaedic Trauma Institute at the University of California San Francisco, and another in Upper Limb Surgery at the Hand and Upper Limb Centre at Western University.

Now I’m working at St. Paul’s Hospital back in my hometown of Vancouver, BC. It’s a long path but I hope that I can inspire others and show that it’s possible to overcome obstacles and work your dream job!

What inspired you to work in orthopaedics, specifically Distal Extremities?

Orthopaedics was an accident. I thought I wanted to be a general surgeon until an orthopaedic surgery elective at Yale University got me hooked. I loved that we were able to help patients back to a higher level of functioning, and get them back to their daily living activities and hobbies. I went through my own set of injuries growing up, so I really identified with the patient population.

Choosing distal extremities, specifically shoulder and elbow, was due to the amazing mentors I had throughout my training. I enjoyed the subspecialty, but my mentors really helped me excel and develop a passion for the work. I was also drawn to distal extremities because it’s a relatively young specialty and one where we still don’t have all the answers yet. I enjoy collaborating with the rest of the upper limb community to find solutions to pathologies so that we can continue to improve our care of our patients.

What impact would you like to see your work have on patients, communities and society at large?

I want to help create a generation of healthy, balanced physicians who are passionate about their jobs. Burnout is a major problem in our field, and I think we have to realize that the only way we can give the best care to our patients and to have lasting passion for our job is to take care of ourselves. I think gone are the days of the angry, jaded, burnt out surgeon and we are hopefully replacing them with a kinder, more empathetic, but equally talented community.

What excites you most about your work? What are you most proud of?

I’m passionate about medical education. I really enjoy working with the medical students and residents to help them grow their careers. I have a unique perspective coming from a marketing background and having been an IMG, and have a different take on work life balance and what the keys to success really are. I love helping trainees develop important skills that will allow them to control their narrative, develop their brand, and create the right connections to pave the path for them to achieve their dream job. I feel extremely proud when these mentees gain the success they’ve worked so hard for.

What is one piece of advice that you would give to current trainees?

Working hard is the baseline. For me, the key to success was working smarter and standing out by branding, networking, and being intentional with my decisions.

When you’re not working, where can we find you?

On our boat with my wife, Shayna, and son, Grayson, and probably trying to create YouTube content.

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