Alumni Q&A: Get to know Alumni Advisory Council chair Gerry Moysa

Retired plastic surgeon sets out to re-engage and instill pride in FoMD alumni.

Shelby Soke - 24 November 2017

Gerry Moysa knows the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. After a 42-year medical career at the University of Alberta as a medical student, trainee and faculty member, he is a proud alumnus of the institution. Moysa is now also the chair of the faculty's newly revitalized Alumni Advisory Council, ushering in an era of increased engagement with FoMD alumni around the world.

What is your affiliation with the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry?
I graduated from the Faculty of Medicine in 1974. (It did not become the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry until much later-a sign of my age!) After graduation, I did a rotating internship at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. In 1975 I was recruited into the general surgery residency program at the University of Alberta. After two years of general surgery training, I was lucky enough to be selected to enter the plastic surgery training program.

I completed my residency training in 1979 and then did an extra year here as a fellow in the burn unit and microsurgical laboratory. At that time microsurgery was being developed in western Canada.

What path did your career take?
Shortly after completing my training I took over the clinical directorship of the burn unit and continued to help develop the microsurgical program. Initially, my practice in plastic surgery was primarily in burns and trauma. We did a lot of free tissue transfers and replantations of amputated extremities like thumbs, fingers, and even complete hands. I had a second appointment at the Edmonton General Hospital where I had an elective plastic surgery practice.

I was training program director of the plastic surgery program at the University of Alberta from 1991 to 2003 and president of the Medical Staff Association at the University of Alberta Hospital from 1992 to 1994. I was fortunate enough to be involved with the boards of both of my national societies. This culminated in my being President of the Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons and the President of the Canadian Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. I was also an examiner on the Royal College exam board for Plastic Surgery for five years. My surgical career ended when I retired in January 2012, after 31 years of clinical practice.

Why do you think having an alumni advisory council is important?

I think that the alumni advisory council is still trying to define exactly what success looks like. Alumni involvement in the faculty has diminished significantly over the last decade. Any strong professional faculty needs to have a strong relationship with alumni to promote spirit, celebrate the achievements of alumni and celebrate the fact that the faculty continues to be successful. In my mind, it's important we continue to develop what the alumni advisory council is all about and how to best engage with our alumni to 'keep them in the family.' When there are faculty events, we want alumni to be keen to be involved and reconnect with colleagues.

I also think that it's important that we look at the personal side of reengagement. People want to feel part of that alumni family. I think we need to work to make people feel welcome and create enthusiasm, since there is a lot to be excited about.

Why are you proud to be an FoMD alumnus?

I am proud to be an alumnus of the University of Alberta because I was trained in medicine and then in plastic surgery by people who all worked together as colleagues for the common good of patient care and excellence in medicine. It was an absolute honour to be a part of that whole system and to realize that by the time I finished, I had received training in both plastic surgery and medicine in general that was second to none.

A number of us were lucky enough to become faculty members at the University. We continued with that idea of working collaboratively throughout all levels, specialties and subspecialties with the goal being that when our trainees finished they would also be able to say they received the best training possible.

Towards the end of my term as training program director, I received a call late one night from a former resident from Saudi Arabia who was finishing a fellowship in New York. He said, "I just have to thank you. I have been to all of these amazing places working with great people, and my training is as good as everyone else's, if not better. You guys did a great job." In those interactions you realize you achieved what you set out to do, and were able to give back in the same way as those who taught you.