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Humbling honour

By Jennifer Parraga, BA'93

Surgeon, educator, and Schulich Medicine alumnus, Dr. Antonio Caycedo was recently honoured as one of The 10 Most Influential Hispanic Canadians by the Canadian Hispanic Business Alliance in cooperation with the Canadian Hispanic Congress.

Humbled by the recognition, Dr. Caycedo credits his wife and family, his teachers, and his peers at Health Sciences North in Sudbury for supporting him through thick and thin since arriving in Canada in 2004.

Having trained and practised as a surgeon in his native Colombia, Dr. Caycedo landed in Montreal, nearly 13 years ago with hopes of pursuing medicine in Canada. He recalls, perhaps not so fondly, the dedication it took to not only learn English but study for his exams and attain a residency position.

“I remember having a text book in one hand, and a dictionary in the other, and struggling to get through four pages in a 12 hour period,” he said. “I’m very lucky that my wife is such a strong person, because all I did was study, sometimes up to 12 hours a day, and she would look after our daughter and take care of everything else,” he added.

Fortunately, Dr. Caycedo’s effort paid off, and he passed his exams and was accepted to the University of Ottawa for his residency. A few years later, he came to Schulich Medicine for a clinical fellowship with Drs. Patrick Calhoun, Brian Taylor and Michael Ott.

“He was an excellent fellow,” said Dr. Ott. “Dr. Caycedo was dedicated and driven for success.”

Dr. Caycdeo says he only has fond memories of his experiences at Schulich Medicine.

“It was an amazing experience to work with those three,” said Dr. Caycedo, referring to Drs. Colquhoun, Taylor and Ott. “Each one of them is so different and so skilled; together they gave me a great experience. This fellowship is a key factor in my success today. I wouldn’t be doing the things I am today if it wasn’t for them.”

In 2011, Dr. Caycedo was recruited by Dr. John Snider, MD’96, a fellow Schulich Medicine alumnus, to join the surgical team at Health Sciences North in Sudbury. Since then, Dr. Caycedo has been able to strengthen the hospital's colorectal surgery program, while completing new surgical procedures, including the hospital’s first train-anal endoscopic microsurgery and first transanal total mesorectal excision on an advanced form of colorectal cancer. Both procedures had been previously completed in a few Canadian centres. Dr. Caycedo continues to be inspired by his patients and his work and is looking forward to welcoming another colorectal surgeon to the community.

Dr. Caycedo is also training and mentoring the next generation of medical professionals serving as an assistant professor with the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. He’s been a faculty member for six years, and remains steadfastly committed to the medical program.

“I truly believe that you have to be part of a formal education and research program if you want to be successful in medicine,” he said. “Being part of the medical school is stimulating and inspires me to want to learn more and do more.”

From as far back as he can remember, Dr. Caycedo wanted to be a doctor. He jokes that there may have been a year or two when he dreamed of playing soccer, but says his mother helped him to move past that fairly quickly. At 17 years of age, he began medical school and hasn’t looked back since. Believing that education is an essential component of a career in medicine, he continues to be inspired to take on new challenges and break new ground to help his patients, inform his students and benefit his community.

Upon learning about this recognition for Dr. Caycedo, Dr. Ott shared his congratulations noting that Dr. Caycedo is a leader in the medical community who is influential in Canada and raising the health care standards in Colombia.

“Dr. Caycedo is a great friend and very important colleague. I’m proud of his success and innovation and am humbled to have played some small part in his development and training.

Congratulations to Dr. Caycedo on receiving this honour.