Dr. John Hagen: Beyond the Operating Room

Dr. John Hagen, a distinguished Canadian surgeon born on April 7, 1956, has left an indelible mark on the field of medicine through his remarkable expertise in laparoscopic surgery and his unwavering commitment to medical education. Hagen’s journey from his early life in Aklavik, Northwest Territories, to becoming a renowned Chief of Surgery at Humber River Regional Hospital (HRH) is a testament to his dedication, passion, and leadership in the medical community.

Hagen’s roots in medicine run deep, with both of his parents being doctors, instilling in him a profound interest in the healthcare profession. His educational journey began at the University of Alberta, Faculty of Medicine, where he earned his Doctor of Medicine (Honours) in 1979. Seeking diverse experiences, Hagen embarked on a mixed internship in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 1980, laying the foundation for his international perspective on healthcare.

The surgeon’s dedication to honing his craft led him to the University of Toronto for his general surgery residency, where he discovered a particular fascination with laparoscopic surgery. Achieving recognition as a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (FRCS(C)) in 1984, Hagen’s credentials solidified his standing as an expert in the field. Further training in endoscopy in Japan and the UK showcased his commitment to mastering the latest techniques.

Throughout his illustrious 37-year career at HRH, Dr. Hagen has become a stalwart in laparoscopic surgery, specializing in bariatrics and advancing minimally invasive techniques. His role as the Surgical Director of Bariatrics since 2007 underscores his significant contributions to obesity treatment through surgical interventions.

Beyond clinical practice, Dr. Hagen’s impact extends into the realm of education. As an Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Toronto, he actively engages in training the next generation of surgeons. His exceptional teaching and mentorship abilities have garnered recognition both locally and internationally, emphasizing his influence on shaping the future of the medical profession.

Awards have not eluded Dr. Hagen, who was honored with the Mentor of the Year Award – Region 3 (Ontario and Nunavut) by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in 2014. This prestigious accolade acknowledges his outstanding qualities as a mentor, manager, scholar, and professional, highlighting the profound impact he has had on the career development of students, residents, and fellows.

Dr. Hagen’s commitment to medical education transcends borders. His active involvement in facilitating knowledge exchange with surgeons in other countries is reflected in his leadership of seven trips to China. Collaborating with a team of North American doctors, these visits involve interactive lecture sessions focusing on laparoscopic colon resections and cholecystectomies. Additionally, Dr. Hagen has dedicated his skills to medical missions in Guatemala with HELPS International, providing surgical services to those in need in impoverished and remote areas.

In addition to his clinical and educational pursuits, Dr. Hagen is also an author, having penned a book titled “THE EMBRYO: The Sailer.” This literary endeavor showcases his diverse talents and interests beyond the operating room.

Dr. John Hagen’s legacy is one of excellence, compassion, and a relentless pursuit of knowledge. As a surgeon, educator, mentor, and humanitarian, he has left an indelible mark on the medical landscape, embodying the qualities of a true leader in healthcare.