Vancouver Island – Royal Jubilee Hospital
Dr. Duncan Jacks is a Clinical Instructor with the UBC Department of Orthopaedics and leads the Victoria Enhanced Recovery Arthroplasty (VERA) program. Combining his passion for skiing with medicine, he has served internationally as team physician with Alpine Canada, worked on the downhill ski race course during the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, and continues to work with the Blackcomb Ski Patrol.
Can you share a little bit about your educational background and journey, and how you got to where you are today?
Growing up in the Laurentians, I participated in year-round sports and outdoor activities. After spending an amazing 10 years at McGill University enjoying the Montreal nightlife and playing varsity rugby (somehow completing my BSc, MSc, and medical degrees along the way!), I knew I was ready for a change.
I was always captivated by the West Coast and after exploring the UBC Orthopaedic program as an elective medical student, I knew it was the perfect fit. I was drawn to the program because of the strong mentorship across the subspecialties, the dedication to teaching, the collegiality amongst the members, and the international reputation.
A shared passion for Whistler ski weekends during residency created some lifelong friendships with the visiting British fellows. Those connections and my British ancestry inspired me to pursue an arthroplasty fellowship at the University of Oxford. Then, a unique opportunity presented itself to pursue a second fellowship in sports medicine in Perth, Australia. Little did I know, I would meet my Aussie wife there and come back with more than just a fellowship! Upon return to Canada, I was fortunate enough to be selected for the Knee Society Insall Travelling Fellowship in North America.
These training opportunities allowed me to view our specialty through an international lens, appreciating the commonalities, but also recognizing that there are many ways to approach a challenge whether it be in the operating room or at a health care systems level.
I am very grateful for the incredible teaching and mentorship that I received at UBC and felt well prepared to explore the world of orthopaedics. Even now those bonds are still felt, and it has been great to reconnect with many of you over the years.
What inspired you to work in orthopaedics, specifically lower limb reconstruction?
Now ten years in practice, I can thankfully say I have no regrets. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to drastically improve my patients’ quality of life through a surgical specialty that I love doing. Arthroplasty presents an opportunity to design a pre-operative plan and then execute it in a streamlined and efficient manner with immediate feedback and then provide life changing outcomes. There are not too many professions that combine surgery, medicine, anatomy, and biomechanics while interacting with a dedicated and hardworking team that usually enjoys having fun along the way!
What impact would you like to see your work have on patients, communities and society at large?
Besides the surgery, patient interactions, and the incredible outcomes we see, I am proud to participate in different roles to improve the delivery of care. I was fortunate to join the RebalanceMD group in Victoria that has developed a multidisciplinary clinic to improve communication between healthcare professionals, create a centralized triage system, and partner with the local health authority to improve the overall patient experience.
What excites you most about your work? What are you most proud of?
Orthopaedics has given me many opportunities but most notably the ability to combine my passion for skiing with medicine, as I have had the incredible experience to travel internationally as team physician with Alpine Canada, work on the downhill ski race course during the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, and I now continue to work with the Blackcomb Ski Patrol.
More recently, I am excited about leading the Victoria Enhanced Recovery Arthroplasty (VERA) program where we developed the protocols and pathways to facilitate same day discharge of total joint replacement patients. It has been incredibly rewarding to see not only the overall improvement in the patient experience but also the drive in innovation at a time when resources are especially limited.
What is one piece of advice that you would give to current trainees?
Residency and clinical fellowship can be a very busy time with much emphasis on building the foundation of knowledge and surgical competency. Although both crucial, it is equally important to learn about different systems, healthcare networks, and various styles of practice management. Recognize that there is a big international family of orthopaedics out there, and if the opportunity to travel and find new adventures presents itself, this will certainly enhance your personal and professional development.
When you’re not working, where can we find you?
Hopefully you can’t… as I usually try to escape somewhere on my bike or skis! I am also having a blast trying to keep up with my two young sons…
- UBC Orthopaedics Article: Island Health pilot project improves surgical patient recovery
- CBC Article: Victoria hospital offers innovative same-day hip and knee replacement surgery
- Video: Victoria Enhanced Recovery Arthroplasty program (VERA)