Telisha Smith-Gorvie: Emergency Doctor, Mentor, Off-Hours Rock Star
An emergency medicine physician, Assistant Professor in U of T’s Department of Medicine and mentor with the Faculty of Medicine’s Diversity Mentorship Program, on her off hours Dr. Telisha Smith-Gorvie can be found rocking out on bass guitar with a band of colleagues. We asked her about her interest in emergency medicine, her time in residency, and, of course, her life moonlighting as a bass guitarist.
What drew you to and keeps you excited about emergency medicine?
I like the variety of cases I see as an emergency physician at the University Health Network. Every year there is so much more to learn. I enjoy the fast-paced nature of Emergency Medicine. Another thing I like is establishing connections with people I’ve never met before in a short time frame, while sorting through a lot of information to care for them as well as I can.
For the past three years, you have been volunteering with the Faculty’s Diversity Mentorship Program. What do you like about it?
Coming from a non-traditional medicine background I thought it was a cool initiative. I really appreciate the opportunity to be a sounding board and provide students with a safe space to chat. It’s very rewarding and I enjoy seeing the progression from the early days of first year through the CaRMS process in fourth year and beyond to residency. It’s been a while since I was a student, so being a mentor helps me remember what it’s like to be a medical student or a resident, and that makes me a better teacher. Medicine is a hard job and we have to look after each other and ourselves. Openly discussing the things we are all going through reminds us that we are also human. And that helps us better relate to and interact with our patients and colleagues.
You did your medical residency at U of T. What did you gain from that experience?
I had a great residency experience, a fantastic group of co-residents. The faculty was very supportive. I felt very cared for by the program, and people seemed invested in my education. There was great camaraderie and support throughout.
Do you have any advice for students in the MD program?
My first year of med school, the TV show “Scrubs” came out, and the theme song really stuck with me. There is a line that says “I can’t do this all on my own; I’m no Superman.” Med school can be such a difficult journey to take on and you really can’t do it by yourself, so reach out and talk to people —friends, family, colleagues or OHPSA (Office of Health Professions Student Affairs). There are a lot of stresses in medical school, and it’s important to realize there is support. As busy as school is, try to find time to do things that make you happy.
Your alter ego is as a cool bassist in a band. What do you like about that?
I started playing bass guitar in the high school jazz band, and continued through medical school at the University of Manitoba. When I became staff, I joined a band with fellow Emergency Medicine colleagues called Jenn and the Holograms. I love it. We play a wide range of music at hospitals such as Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Western, Toronto Rehab, Sunnybrook and Princess Margaret. During performances, I really enjoy seeing patients and their families listening, holding hands and singing along. As much as I love being a doctor and being a part of the health care team to help people feel better, music is a different way to do that and it means so much.
Conversation edited by Suzanne Bowness