On building a medical brand with Vic Park
After studying Art History at McGill University and graduating with an Honors Degree, Dr Thibaudeau completed her medical studies and specialization in Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Montreal. During her medical training, she obtained a Master’s degree in Biomedical Sciences, and won several awards during residency.
She continued on with complementary training in Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery after graduating. In addition to her aesthetic practice, she has been practicing general otolaryngology since 2016. Her background in Art History and her artist’s eye give her a unique perspective in analyzing your aesthetic needs. Using a personalized approach, Dr Thibaudeau will favor subtle results, allowing your natural beauty to shine while still looking like YOU.
Tell me a bit about your background and how you got into the medical industry?
I am from Montreal, I grew up here and I went to UdM where most people were expats, so I was always surrounded by people from all over the world. I think that shaped me a lot and of course I got the travel bug really early! So I always loved travelling. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, it was obviously very clear that I needed to stay in school. My dad was a doctor but I didn’t want to just follow in his footsteps and take the obvious option. He was one of the first oncologist’s in Quebec actually, and he specialised in cancel treatment. So he was more in the medical field, whereas I turned out to be more in the surgical field.
I think Quebec is the only place where you can actually go straight into medical school after Cegep nd I think making such huge decisions like committing to medical school when you are 18 years old is very, very tough, because most people haven’t seen anything at that age so it is really hard to know what you want to do for the rest of your life. I went into Art History simply because I had a very developed artistic side, I loved to travel and it was a fun program. So I did an Honours Degree in Art History at McGill University, and I really fell in love with Italian renaissance; so much so I went to Summer school in Florence, Italy twice.
I wanted to go into art conservation, so medicine wasn’t even my first choice at the time. I was missing some science classes to go to art conservation classes instead, because my plan was really to restore the ceiling at the Sistine Chapel. but I was still doing some of the science classes as the medical side was still in the back of my mind. So I decided to apply, but I didn’t tell anyone that I was applying because I was too afraid that I wouldn’t get in and I didn’t want to be embarrassed, and then I got in! So I just went for it never regretted it.
What made you decide to chose your specialty in surgery?
It became clear from the very beginning that I was more surgical. I have always been more manual; I used to draw and paint. So surgery was an obvious choice, and I always hesitated between plastic surgery and ENT because I really loved facial reconstruction after cancer and trauma. and you can do this as either an ENT or as a plastic surgeon because facial plastics and reconstructive surgery is in both programs. I chose ENT mostly because of the mentors I met and the role models, I got along really well with the people. So I did ENT, otolaryngology, and head and neck surgery at the University of Montreal; along with a Masters Degree specialising in head and neck cancers during my residency, but I always wanted to do aesthetics on the side. So after residency, I did extra training in facial plastics and reconstructive surgery which includes aesthetics.
Did you have any women mentors in the industry?
Yes, there were so many women who inspired me during residency, but one particularly stood out on the academic side, her name was [specify name] and she is a friend now; but she really broke some glass ceilings because head and neck surgery was really dominated by men, even recently and it still is. She is one of the best head and neck surgeons I know. She is very involved at the Royal College and a great mentor, she definitely inspired me on the ENT side. Then on the more entrepreneur/aesthetics side, I have two friends who are doing great; Dr Amanda Fanous and Dre.Genevieve Gagnon. One of them is a plastic surgeon and the other is an ENT, but they are really good friends and I think they are such amazing entrepreneurs on top of it, they really inspire me.
So when you say business side; is this because you have started your own clinic?
I partnered up with Victoria Park. Dr. Nicholas who is the head of Victoria Park was one of my mentors when I was a medical student; so when I was hesitating between plastic surgery and ENT, I did several rotations in plastic surgery because I knew I wanted to do aesthetics as well. Partnering up with Victoria Park was just obvious because Dr Nicolas has been a mentor for a really long time.
I work at one of their clinics; I am one of the two doctors at the Montreal East clinic. I do injections and minor surgery. So it is great to be able to focus on the medical side more than the business aspect.
What is your vision for aesthetics?
I think there is a paradigm shift happening at the moment, where people are striving for more natural results which I think is wonderful. I don’t think anyone should look overdone, and as my friend also mentioned; it’s important for women and patients in general, to stop focusing on negatives aspects and just enhance what makes them unique. So that is how I see aesthetics, I don’t want anyone to look fake; I want them to look like themselves.
Do you think that’s also because it’s less stigmatized and isn’t a taboo subject anymore?
I think the fact that it’s in the open is a good thing, because I don’t think people should be embarrassed or hide it. Especially with social media, it’s good for people to be open about what they have had done, otherwise it sets completely unrealistic expectations, especially for younger women. So it is important to be honest about the fact that what you look like on Instagram is not what you look like in real life and that you didn’t wake up that way but plastic surgeons and filters were also employed. However; I think it is possible to look like the best version of yourself without looking like you fit into a mould and having the Instagram lips and the brow lift etc. and looking like everyone else, you should still look like yourself.
What advice would you give to your younger self who was at the arts program at McGill and not really sure that medical was going to be the career choice?
I think in general just trust your instinct, go with your gut and when you’re young put your heart into whatever you’re doing. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself in terms of having a life timeline because that will come and I don’t think it is very realistic to have that figured out when you’re still so young. This is what I would say to the person who was studying Art History.
What about a medical student that’s going in now and choosing their specialty?
You need to work hard, apply yourself, and focus; but also stay open minded. I think in retrospect, a lot of people think that there is only one speciality that will make them happy. I believe that the real reward is to know that you have helped your patients and that you have done a good job at it, and being knowledgeable in your field. You can end up developing this in several specialities, so I do believe that it is important to remain open minded throughout your training.
When it comes to you and your routine to set yourself up for the day, what does that look like?
Well by nature I am not particularly a morning person, but because of the nature of my job I don’t really have a choice. The ER and clinics all start early, so I have a big coffee in the morning and my drive to work is my “me time” while I sip my coffee and listen to the news and get in my zone. I am ready to go by the time I get to the hospital, but as soon as I am on vacation, my true nature comes back out and I like to sleep in.
My week is pretty diversified. I usually do clinic at the hospital, I have one day of OR at the hospital, and I have one to two of aesthetics; and then there is also minor surgery and other clinics. So the week is pretty diversified; but yes, from a surgical field point of view; everything starts early in the morning.
What inspires you in your daily life?
I know it’s very cliché, but when you’re helping people in medicine; whether it’s in aesthetics or in a medical practice, you always want to give your patients the best outcome possible, and that is very motivating and it motivates you to keep learning and learn new techniques and advances, and new ways to treat complications.
If you are a surgeon, you know complications will happen because as they say; surgeons who don’t have complications are surgeons that don’t operate. So managing your complications is really important, but also just wanting to give the best care possible to your patients is motivation in itself. Whether it’s in aesthetics and you want both women and men to look their best, and give them confidence too, because it’s not about making people look like someone else, it’s about bringing out the best in them and keeping them unique. In terms of a medical practice, it’s about giving people the best care; curing their diseases and making them feel better. This is motivation in itself.
Burnout is something that is not talked about enough in the medical field, and yet people experience it all the time. What do you do when you’re feeling overwhelmed and just need to unwind?
Travelling has always been my way to disconnect with the world, reconnect with myself and to let go of everything else. Obviously this has been very tough in the last couple of years with the pandemic, so travelling hasn’t really been an option. My other “me time” is horseback riding. When I’m on my horse, I forget about everything else, and I focus on the work out. It is my happy place, and it is very important to have that because so many physicians and other professionals in the medical world are experiencing burnouts and depression at the moment. People do talk about it more and more, but still not enough. The last couple of years have been really, really hard and people are burnt out.
Also, based on your profession and your speciality, I feel like it is a more positive one, Right? Because you’re not looking at cancer patients all day, or things like that; you do make people feel better when they leave and maybe happier?
For the aesthetics side, yes definitely; but I still very much have both careers and I do treat cancer patients in my medical practice. I would never stop doing it; it is probably the most rewarding part of my practice. It has been tough with the pandemic; so many cancer patients’ surgeries have been cancelled. It has been tough to keep giving the best patient care for factors out of our control. When your hospital doesn’t have enough nurses to handle the OR, then surgeries get cancelled and it’s not anyone’s fault. So that has been really tough. So yes, the aesthetics practice is completely different, where I mostly bring joy to people and I help them feel more confident. It is a very different kind of reward.
Do you enjoy reading books? And if so, what is your favourite book and type of book?
Yes! I love reading. My favourite book is a hard one to answer, my husband and I are huge readers; our house is filled with books. I read a lot more fiction, because I do so much reading professionally that when I want to relax, I end up reading fiction. Favourite books are impossible to mention. Right now I am loving a series of books about the end of the Roman republic by Colleen McCullough, it is a huge series of books so I think it will take me a while to get through.
What do you want to be remembered for in the bigger picture of your life and the things that you want to accomplish and will continue to do?
I think I want to be remembered by the people I love and the people who love me. I would like to be remembered as hard working, loving, and passionate.
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