Resident Spotlight – Nathan Katz


UBC Orthopaedics Resident

Nathan Katz is a current UBC Orthopaedics PGY 1 Resident with an interest in giving back to the field by helping athletes and military personnel regain motion and functionality following injuries. He has a love of teaching and a strong passion for pursuing a role in academic medicine to help improve orthopaedic residency programs in the future.

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

My hometown is Cambridge, England, but I came to Canada for university when I was 18, and I’ve never looked back. Prior to pursuing my residency in Orthopaedics, I studied Psychology at Western University in London Ontario, and completed medical school at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. I’m now in my PGY-1 year of residency in Orthopaedic Surgery here at UBC. I also took some time off during undergrad to serve in the military, and my experiences as an infantry solider in the middle east heavily influenced my decision to pursue a career with teamwork and public service at the heart of everything I do.

What inspired you to pursue a career in orthopaedics?

The people, the patients, and the bones! I’ve been fortunate enough to have some outstanding mentors in surgery, particularly in orthopaedics, who inspired me and who shaped my interests early on. Orthopaedics has an exciting culture of apprenticeship and experiential learning that I think is unique among the surgical specialties, and it’s just so much fun to be a part of that community now. I also love the patients. Most people intuitively understand the mechanical metaphors which we use to explain orthopaedics to them. I enjoy being able to show patients their x-rays, describe their surgery to them, and follow them during recovery and rehab. It makes for a highly collaborative endeavour between patients and their healthcare team, and I find that very rewarding.

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

This will likely depend on what subspecialty I pursue, although I’m interested in Foot & Ankle and I’d love to find a way to combine that with sports or trauma to help athletes and military personnel regain motion and functionality following injury.

I also love teaching and I have a passion for medical education. I’d like to work in academic medicine and help to develop orthopaedic residency programs of the future. As a junior resident, I have loved working with and mentoring medical students, and I think continuing to work with learners is a meaningful way in which I can give back to the field.

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

What excites me? Operating! There is nothing as fun as preparing for and doing cases – learning anatomy, approaches, reviewing the imaging, thinking about the biomechanical problems, making a plan to solve them, thinking about exposure, reduction, fixation, and post-op management – and then pitching that plan to my staff in the morning and discussing it with them before going to the OR. Having the chance to reinforce all that learning with hands-on experience is a huge privilege and it is tremendous fun. It’s like getting personal training for the coolest job in the world by people who are the very best in the world.

What am I most proud of? It’s hard to pick any one thing… but I think that every time my staff hands me the knife, or a patient says “thank you for your care”, I feel proud to be part of this community, and fortunate for this career.

What is one piece of advice that you’d like to give to current and/or prospective trainees?

1) Try to get the most out of every experience – there’s always someone you can learn from, and someone who would benefit from your teaching.

2) Try not to fall prey to imposter syndrome – we all do, but try to employ a growth mindset (i.e. “I don’t know anything, so it’s only a matter of time until I figure it out!”) rather than a fear mindset (“I don’t know anything, so it’s only a matter of time until they figure it out!”)

3) I find it helpful to remind myself that a career in medicine is ultimately a career in service. We often have limited choice in who we work with, or where we go – there is plenty of uncertainty, the training path is long, and the destination is bound to change along the way. But if you love what you do, and if you make friends with the people you work with, then you’ll enjoy the journey regardless, and you’ll be a great physician no matter where you go or what you do.

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

At the gym with my co-residents, or out for dinner with friends, usually. I’m a closet foodie, so moving to Vancouver has been a dream come true! In my time off, I love travelling. Planning beach vacations with my partner helps beat the winter doldrums… Last year we went snow-shoeing in the Yukon, and I’ve never been so cold in my life! We’re heading to England this May to see the King’s coronation, visit the West End, and say hello to my parents.

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