What year are you in school/residency? I am a 5th semester IMG student. I was fortunate to be accepted to the Medical University of the America’s in 2021.
Where are you from? I am from Kenora, Ontario (22 hours away from Toronto), a small town surrounded by forest and lakes mostly known as cottage country to Winnipeg residents. I did not grow up expecting to pursue a medical degree, in fact I was confident that I would stay in a career related to hockey. My undergrad was in Kinesiology which I am still very passionate about.
Why medicine? My thoughts about medical school began to sprout first when I attended a class in university called “Physiology of Coronary Artery Disease”. I found it so interesting and realized that I enjoyed the diagnostic part of the class more so than the exercise teaching aspect.
What made you decide on the IMG/non-traditional route? Now the problem with deciding I wanted to purse medicine at that time, I was already in my 2nd year of undergrad. My 1st and 2nd year grades were “okay” and “okay grades” do not put you at the competitive level for Canadian medical schools. My grades greatly improved for 3rd and 4th year but those first two years really made it difficult to be more than a “okay” medical school candidate. To be clear, I still applied to a Canadian medical school and did not get accepted. I knew this meant I would likely have to back to school for either a master’s degree or another year of classes. Instead, I chose to use my degree and began to work at a gym. This was a blessing in disguise because I learned some important skills that have come in handy for medical school, but also, a friend who I met at the gym was going through the same thing I was. We both had this dream of medical school, but our early grades felt like hurdles that we could not overcome. When COVID shut down all the gyms and I moved to my current home, that friend messaged me out of the blue saying she was accepted into medical school (Caribbean medical school called SABA) and that I should apply too. She explained that they were very understanding if you were missing a prerequisite and would give you conditional acceptances if they wanted you. This felt like there was a window of opportunity. After some research into the school, I applied and did not get accepted into SABA, but I did get accepted into their sister school MUA. That’s the nutshell version of how I became IMG student and I absolutely love being a medical student. This was the right thing for me.
#1 piece of advice for future students? My one piece of advice for future student is to understand that self-doubt is going to be a regular feeling and you will still be successful if you stay honest to yourself. “Am I doing enough?” is a thought that comes up every day. If future students who read this and find themselves thinking the same thing, you are not alone! Just be honest with yourself and ask yourself the hard questions like “Did I spend enough time on the content of today for each subject?” or “did I complete what I wanted to finish today (for me it’s a certain number of questions per night)?” etc. If you can answer these questions at the end of each day that thought of “am I doing enough?” won’t break you. Occasionally if the answer is “no I’m saving it for the weekend” it is probably not a big deal, but if you find this is what’s happening more and more often, recognize it quickly and get back on track.
What is your favorite way to relax/decompress during your downtime? My favourite way to decompress during my downtime cannot be expressed by just one thing. Basically, I do anything that has absolutely nothing to do with medicine, so I get a full brain break. I do personal training, workout, bake cakes, kayak, snowshoe, play video games and listen to cult books/podcasts while walking my dogs. One time I made an entire Italian dinner after exams (right down to arancini balls) just because it wasn’t medicine related. AND! it was delicious.