Memorial University of Newfoundland - Orthopedic Surgery - St. John's


Program Director

Dr. Keegan Au


Program Assistant

Carol Hedd

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It is clear that excellent training is available at all Canadian orthopaedic surgery residency programs. However, there are a number of aspects of our program that make us stand out.

  • Our program accepts 2-3 residents per year and typically hosts a total of 13-15 residents, making us a relatively small program on the national scale. We have 13 adult and 3 paediatric surgeons, affording a low resident: faculty ratio and providing plenty of attention and supervision for trainees.

  • Local faculty experienced and trained in all subspecialty areas of orthopaedic surgery, providing current knowledge and comprehensive training. Our trainees complete residency capable of proceeding into community practice.

  • Opportunity to obtain a Masters in Clinical Epidemiology concurrently within the 5 years of orthopaedic training exists and has been a well-trodden pathway for many of our graduates.

  • Our program was founded and continues to exist with a strong culture of teamwork, cooperation and collaboration between residents, between faculty and amongst all team members. A prime example of this is Team Broken Earth, which was founded here by one of our faculty members and has grown into an international team of volunteers who work towards sustainable health care in the developing world. We have taken residents on all missions undertaken by Newfoundland teams.

  • Like residents in other Canadian centres, our residents work hard. But they also experience a healthy work-life balance and we strive to have them emerge from residency not only as competent surgeons, but as resilient individuals who possess the tools to succeed, teach and cooperate through their careers. We host regular events that promote team building and create fond memories of our program that our graduates carry with them through their careers.

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Our core rotations are based out of 1 paediatric and 2 adult hospitals in St. John’s. The 3-month community block has classically been completed at distributed sites in Central Newfoundland (Gander) or Western Newfoundland (Corner Brook) where we have solid contacts.

Newfoundland and Labrador is home to some of the friendliest and generous people on earth. Our population is known abroad for its welcoming attitude and hospitality. Residents who have joined us from elsewhere in Canada have received warm welcomes and have enjoyed their time on the island.

Our province is blessed with an abundance of natural resources and rugged beauty. Tourism is alive and well here, as countless have come from all over the globe to experience clean salt-tinged air, picturesque landscapes, coveted history and heritage, world class hiking and culinary excellence. For more information, visit this site.

The City of St. John’s is widely known as the “Oldest city in North America”. It is a vibrant metropolis of culture, boasting a blend of history, sights, recreation, nightlife and plenty of things to explore. It is both an interesting and a safe place to spend five years of residency training.


What are the strengths of the Orthopaedics program at Memorial?

Our relatively small size is definitely one of our strengths – it provides close attention for our trainees while fostering an environment that makes cooperation and collaboration habitual, as they are completely essential to success of both individuals and the team in our training environment. Combined with the absence of fellows, the fact that even our junior residents are one-on-one with faculty in daytime activity and on call means that our residents receive personalized feedback and become comfortable in the OR and out very quickly. Our faculty and resident members are collegial and unified in their goals to provide exemplary care and advance the skills and knowledge of all team members through cooperation, and this is easily seen through the interactions in professional and social settings.

How will the residency program adapt to achieve the goals of the Royal College’s Competence by Design?

Our program structure lends itself well to CBD principles. Our faculty members are best described as general orthopaedic surgeons with subspecialty interests, and this reflects how we train our residents. In fact, the program has long employed a gradual progression of responsibility in a manner similar to what we now refer to as CBD, and as such the day-to-day approach to teaching and assessment will remain the same. Trainees will be exposed in a “longitudinal” fashion to common bread and butter pathology and procedures continuously over the course of training. More complex subspecialty focus will vary depending on the direct supervisors being rotated with. Residents will have the opportunity to work with all subspecialty areas over the course of training.

Do graduates from Memorial Orthopaedics usually complete subspecialty fellowships?

Yes. It is commonplace for residents from all Canadian orthopaedic programs to complete a fellowship after residency is complete, and ours is no exception. While we have had occasional graduates proceed into community practice directly from residency, the majority of our graduates complete fellowship training of their choice. Our graduates have almost always secured fellowships of their first choosing – most remain in Canada, but some have travelled to the US, UK and elsewhere for subspecialty training.

How is it that residents can complete the Master’s in Clinical Epidemiology program?

Our division has an excellent relationship with the Clinical Epidemiology program at Memorial University’s Faculty of Medicine, having had a number of our residents complete a diploma or Master’s degree during the course of their five-year residency. Our faculty are very understanding with trainees who choose to complete this and, for instance, regularly excuse residents from clinical duty to attend classes required for this degree. It should be noted that residents who wish to undertake this challenging endeavor should consult and receive approval from the Program Director, as the trainee should not jeopardize performance in their residency program by taking on additional work.

What are some of the highlights of residency at Memorial?

  • A culture of cooperation and teamwork.

  • Faculty with authentic interest in resident success.

  • A resident group who work, support and (willingly) socialize with one another.

  • Comprehensive academic program.

  • Funding for travel to courses and meetings.

  • Full-time research nurse.

  • Regular journal club hosted at staff’s homes.

  • Annual resident retreat, promoting team building and often including paintball, watersports, refreshments in the midst of scenery, lawn games and/or fireside bonding.

  • Annual resident cod-fishing excursion.

  • Social events, such as Christmas function and year-end celebration for graduating senior residents.