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About R.J. Doonan

R.J. Doonan is a fourth-year vascular surgery resident at McGill University. He completed his MD-PhD at McGill University, investigating new methods to identify unstable carotid plaques through clinical, translational, and basic science approaches. Throughout residency, he has also pursued outcome research in aortic aneurysm treatment and advanced endovascular therapies for complex abdominal and thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms. When not working, R.J. enjoys cycling, hiking, and spending time with his partner Pauline and his two dogs Ellie and Oliver.


Conducting and completing a high-quality research project is an extremely rewarding experience, and this remains true during residency. It is entirely possible to succeed in residency both academically and clinically. The long hours, significant clinical responsibilities, and pressure to continue to produce good research will prove difficult but surmountable. This chapter will provide insight into what to expect when trying to integrate research into residency, tips and tricks to help you succeed, types of research to conduct during residency, and work-life balance.

Different people enrolled in different programs in places around the world will have varying experiences. While some of what I will tell you here is an amalgamation of other residents’ experiences, advice, and observations, much of this chapter is based on my own experience. Be aware of that bias. Not everything will apply directly to your unique situation. I suggest taking everything written here into context and with a healthy dose of skepticism.


  • Develop short- and long-term goals and objectives. Discuss them with others. Check your progress and reassess them regularly.

  • Build upon your foundational skills but take the time to learn something new.

  • Find at least one mentor who can help guide you through your physician-scientist development.

  • Setting realistic expectations for research commitments before starting residency will shape your experience in a positive way.

  • Your own well-being should be your number one priority. Take care of yourself and seek help if needed.

Tips and Tricks for Successful Research Integration in Residency

Set goals/objectives

Similar to the goals and objectives of each of your individual rotations, setting research goals and objectives is important in preparing for success. I suggest setting short- and long-term goals, which may translate into yearly and residency-long goals. These goals can guide you from your intern year, as discussed in Chapter 23, until you secure your first job, the topic of Chapter 26, and beyond. They could encourage engaging in a particular number of research projects, publications or conference presentations, learning new skills, awards and grants, research fellowships, and more. This exercise will help you stay focused throughout the year and direct your efforts. You may have several research project possibilities, but which one aligns most with your own objectives? Making decisions becomes much easier when you have clear, guiding goals. ...

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