Family practice

Jim Day
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It's like father like son, and like daughter, for the medical Midgleys at the QEH

Surgery has become very much a family affair for Dr. Bob Midgley.
He has had a couple of colleagues in the operating room lately that take to calling him dad rather than doctor.
In early January, the 72-year-old surgical assistant took part in a notable operation at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown with his son, Dr. Peter Midgley, a vascular surgeon, in charge.
Bob's daughter, Dr. Janet Midgley, took care of business in her role as anesthetist.
It was the first time the trio of Midgley MDs operated together. It also set a precedent for the hospital.

Dr. Bob Midgley, right, has loved working with his children, Dr. Janet Midgley and Dr. Peter Midgley at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Guardian photo

Surgery has become very much a family affair for Dr. Bob Midgley.
He has had a couple of colleagues in the operating room lately that take to calling him dad rather than doctor.
In early January, the 72-year-old surgical assistant took part in a notable operation at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown with his son, Dr. Peter Midgley, a vascular surgeon, in charge.
Bob's daughter, Dr. Janet Midgley, took care of business in her role as anesthetist.
It was the first time the trio of Midgley MDs operated together. It also set a precedent for the hospital.
"This is the first time that this has ever happened here before at the QEH,'' said Rob Philpott, the hospital's executive director.
"It's certainly a very noteworthy occasion. We do have records of this type of thing.''
This is the first time a parent has worked with two of his or her children in the same practice at the same time at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. And not only are they all involved in performing key roles in conducting surgery at the hospital, they have even teamed on the same operation a handful of times this month.
The Midgley medical musketeers usually find themselves working together at the first of the week. Or, as Dr. Janet sums up the controlled chaos: "Just another manic Midgley Monday.''
The professional family gathering is an obvious source of pride for Dr. Bob.
"It's nice to see (up close) members of your family doing what you're happy they are doing,'' he said. "They both certainly are able to do it very well.''
Dr. Peter described conducting an operation, with both his father and his sister taking part for the first time, as a unique experience.
"It really was a different kind of feeling,'' he said. "I'm lucky to have a sister who is a great anesthetist and a father who is a great assistant. So it works out well.''
Dr. Janet said easing up to the operating table with both her younger brother and her father for the first time was a comfortable endeavour.
"I can read them pretty well, so it all went very smoothly and it was kind of fun,'' she said.
Dr. Janet, who has been working on the Island for almost two years, had worked with her father in the O.R. numerous times before her brother was added to the team.
She recalls the startled reaction of a patient undergoing a caesarean section learning of the relationship between the two doctors taking part in the operation.
"At the end of the case I said 'dad, would you mind doing something' and she looked up at me and said 'daaaaaad?'''
When she introduces herself, patients will say that they thought Dr. Midgley was a man or note that Dr. Midgley operated on them years ago, in one case three decades in the past.
Dr. Peter had his father assist in several operations before the familial trio recently debuted together around a surgical table. He said working alongside his father felt a little different at first.
"You're worried is dad going to think I'm doing a good job or a bad job as any son would that is thinking about their father watching them do something," he said.
On the flip side, the operating room is the only place where Dr. Peter is the boss over his dad, he noted. Still, he finds the O.R. an unusual place to be calling out for his father.
"When I walk into the operating room and say 'oh, where's dad?' or 'dad, can you hold this?' or 'dad, can you hold that?' - it's sort of a strange word to say 'dad' in the operating room."
Dr. Peter, who concedes to being "quite a brat growing up" as the youngest of four children, describes his considerable interaction with big sister in the operating room as professional and friendly.
Dr. Janet concurs that the siblings work well together, but offers an aside.
"Now, in between times we give each other a hard time," she said.
"But when we're actually working together, it's professional."
Dr. Bob, a native of Montreal who became the first plastic surgeon in P.E.I. in 1976, believes that he and his late wife, Dr. Elizabeth Ross, who was the first hematologist in P.E.I., strongly influenced their children to enter medicine. At least two of their four children.
Son Ross is a chef and daughter Kirsten is an occupational therapist.
"They (Peter and Janet) saw that both their mother and father very much enjoyed the heavy work but the rewarding work that comes from the field of medicine," he said.
Janet said her father suggested anesthesia as a specialty for her. She thanks him for the nudge in a fitting direction.
"He knew me well because it suits me perfectly," she said.
Dr. Peter was unable to shake the influence of having both parents with careers in medicine. He finally relented after initially trying to turn his back on the family trait of becoming a doctor.
"Actually, my mother somewhat discouraged me and then eventually I looked around and figured there was nothing else that I was meant to do or fit to do and just faced it and decided I would go for it," he said.
Dr. Bob is glad he did, especially now that he has the opportunity to work with two of his children.
"It's family and I'm sure my late wife would be very pleased to know that her two doctor children have come back to work here in Prince Edward Island - a place she got to love very, very much -and have a chance to work with me."

Organizations: Queen Elizabeth Hospital

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Montreal

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