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Who We Are: Dr. Jesse Guscott

“People will have stress responses in medical crises, but the point is to learn how we respond to stress and to develop the skills to lead and collaborate effectively in spite of it.” – Dr. Jesse Guscott, Assistant Clinical Professor, Collingwood

Specialist physician trains colleagues to harness stress response

Family doctor Jesse Guscott designs training programs to help physicians cope with medical emergencies. His teaching aids include computerized, high fidelity mannequins that can simulate real patients. They can speak, breathe, cough, vomit and exhibit a pulse and heart rate, in order to help doctors experience, and then learn to outwit, their stress responses.

Our primal stress responses evolved to help us in fight or flight situations.  We needed to be able to outrun predators, not solve complex intellectual problems, Jesse explains.

However, “in a medical crisis, we need the exact opposite to happen,” he says.

Jesse is a physician at Collingwood General and Marine Hospital.

He created the SCORE (Simulating Crisis for Optimal Response in Emergencies) training program in 2018, drawing on more than 10 years of experience in medical simulations.

The mannequins were funded by the hospital foundation. Each is valued at up to $100,000, and can be reprogrammed to change the details for an individual training scenario.

Family doctors take turns in the leadership role:

“They’ll say, ‘that case was absolutely terrifying,’ and we say, ‘of course it is!’ Your brain isn’t supposed to do this naturally.”

Training for crisis

Through his own simulation training, Jesse realized he tends to dominate in a stressful situation, and learned to step back to encourage more effective teamwork.

Another physician showed “a quiet calm that is very good in a crisis. However, she didn’t communicate the urgency of the situation. Her team had no idea how bad it was.”

Jesse grew up in Hamilton and chose the medical school at McMaster University, followed by residency through McMaster’s rural family medicine residency program in Collingwood. He completed the university’s Enhanced Skills Program in Family Practice Anesthesia, which he now directs.

“Some of the things that really scare emergency room doctors are things anesthetists tend to be experienced in, including intubation. I wasn’t far into my training before I realized how fascinating it is.”

Jesse and his wife, Gwen Jamieson, who is a social worker, have three children, and their fourth is expected in February. The family loves Collingwood, but for Jesse, the medical experience has been the best part of living there:

“Here, family doctors do multifaceted emergency care, anesthesia, obstetrics and neonatal care – things I didn’t  know family doctors were allowed to do,” he says.

These days, he’s increasingly focused on his teaching role: “It’s my favourite thing. Learners make me smarter.”

By: Elizabeth Meen

January 23, 2020

McMaster University Department of Family MedicineMichael G. DeGroote School of Medicine