An Interview with Medical Resident Ammr Al-Houssan


Ammr, tell us a little about yourself

I am a Canadian international medical graduate who studied abroad at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in a direct entry medicine program. This allowed me to pursue medicine at the young age of 18, as well as expand my global footprint. I graduated with a MB BCh BAO degree with Honours in 2019. I am an aspiring general surgeon with a commitment to making a difference in healthcare. I will be completing my general surgery residency training at the University of Connecticut.

My favorite things to do in my pastime is to stay active, whether that is playing soccer in the summer, or snowboarding and playing ice hockey in the winter.

An interesting thing about myself is that I love the study of watches and find wristwatches very fascinating. I like to build my watch collection with special pieces.

When did you first choose medicine? What inspired your interest in this field?

I first gravitated towards medicine as a career choice when I was in elementary school, as I grew up in a household of doctors. At this time, this was merely a dream. In highschool, my interest grew as I began to realize that the study of the human body itself is fascinating and that medicine encompasses all different types of people regardless of race, gender, fame, or fortune.

It was during my woodshop and metal manufacturing classes that I developed planning skills, manual dexterity, and craftsmanship. Using complex tools to create a desired outcome proved challenging yet gratifying. This is when I aspired to incorporate this with my interest in medicine and become a surgeon.

Is there anything about medical school or your experience so far that stands out?

I was accepted into a six-year program at one of the most international medical schools in the world, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. Due to its traditional teaching and diversity of students, RCSI engrained sharp clinical acumen, professionalism, and cultural competency skills which I carry to practice today.

During my time at RCSI, I was involved in multiple academic and non-academic societies including Emergency Society, Surgical Society, Canadian International Medical Student Association (CIMSA), and Middle East Student Association (MESA). These societies held year-round events to aid students in developing their interest for residency, as well as leisurely events such as International Food Night.

I also served as the class representative for 3 years of a student body of 300+. This role allowed a bridge from the students to the administrative staff for academic related issues. I believe that my approachability, kind demeanor, and ability to withstand stressful situations were reasons for being re-elected.

What is the most challenging about the field you have faced so far and why?

I developed my growing passion for surgery for 3 main reasons. Firstly, surgery provides immediate changes to a sick patient, oftentimes curing or alleviating their pathology. In addition, surgeons also manage chronically ill patients especially in distressing and emotional times of their life. Secondly, it takes a vast skill set to accomplish a challenging task. Certain topics in medicine can be taught in a book, which becomes more challenging regarding the physical aspects of surgery. Lastly, something I experienced first-hand is the unspoken trust when a surgeon is at bedside. There is always a sense of relief when the surgical team is involved in managing a patient.

This proves to be challenging as a surgeon is in a role of leadership and must be capable and confident of his abilities, as well as empathetic and compassionate to patients during life-altering situations. Additionally, the variability of outcomes regardless of competency is difficult to balance with the desire to reduce suffering and resolve pathology.

All the mentioned reasons make for a noble and highly rewarding career.

What do you enjoy most about this career path? 

“The hand of a surgeon is hard, but healing.” Patient outcome is oftentimes a direct reflection of the surgeon’s abilities. I enjoy the endless challenges and rewards that come with helping patients in their most difficult times, each of which have their own story.

Where do you see yourself 10, 20, or even 30 years down the road? 

After completing my general surgery residency at the University of Connecticut, I aspire to pursue fellowship training. Furthermore, I would like to work in an academic hospital system and work to teach aspiring medical students and residents. I believe the highest level of mastery is achieved when one can turn around and offer a hand to those on their way up.

Is there any particular advice you would offer aspiring medical students?

The door that opens is the one you keep knocking on. My advice to medical students, especially to those trying to pursue a surgical career, is to persist on your desired career path. Allow some flexibility as the path is never straight, and enjoy the process. The results will follow as long as you keep your focus on the final outcome.


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