Jump to content

Most Liked Content

#930827 Success Stories- Non Trad Style!

Posted by MathToMed on 28 March 2015 - 12:57 PM

I was debating for a long time now regarding whether or not to post here...sadly my dream of becoming a physician has not, and will not ever be realized. However I would still like to share my story, which I will reluctantly call a success story (though really, only time will tell). It's going to be long (as an after note: It took me about 2.5 hours to type), and I apologize in advance. I don't mean to be presumptuous here and assume that anyone really cares about my story, but I am thinking of writing an autobiography as it would likely be fairly entertaining.


Early life, leading to why I want(ed) to be a physician

I was born to a poor family - we're talking the kind you'd see on TV shows poking fun at poor families. The kind with kids that would wear dirty clothes with those little animated stink lines coming off of them (indeed, clothes were a luxury). My parents tried their best... my mother was incapable of working, and my father worked those insecure, dangerous jobs to support us, though those never seemed to last. He'd try to balance his time between shift-work and helping to enrich the lives of his kids, particularly academically. See he didn't have the opportunities I've had - he started a university degree but was unable to complete it as he couldn't pay his tuition. Despite this, he was brilliant and resourceful, he read many books that he'd pick up for free here and there (math, science and history books mostly) and would pass his knowledge on.


I had a knack for it - I learned mathematics very quickly and early (it would be no exaggeration to say I was doing calculus, and understanding it, in grade 3) thanks to his guidance and it ultimately shaped the rest of my life, as well as my academic interests. I was a straight A student who had the talent, and the brains to know that I needed to work hard. I had many things in childhood that I would say make me quite privileged, a father who gave me the time of day, and a traditional family that treasured the concept of a tight-knit family. "We don't need money to be happy" my mother would always say.

As some of you may attest to, able-bodied people never really notice say, handicap parking spaces, or ramps/elevators until you either have a disabled friend/family member, or break your leg and have to use an assistive device. That being said, life is immensely difficult for the unwealthy, and you could never really understand the stigma unless you've been forced to live it. Statistically speaking, someone in my family should be an alcoholic (just based on numerical data) and granted, if we had the money to spend on it, at least one of us probably would have been. True or not, I was certainly treated as a drug abuser/alcoholic/future criminal by many I interacted with, other students, even many of my elementary school teachers (one of whom likely made the observation, and then gossiped to the rest).

A turning point came in grade 6, I took it very personally when I wasn't selected for an academic award in math. I don't think I can accurately portray why this bothered me so much (perhaps it's even one of those irrational "kid things") despite having aced the EQAO (literally, my principal called my parents in to congratulate me) and placing 1st in the province in a UWaterloo math contest for grade 9s. To this day I don't know what basis I wasn't selected on, but the thing that immediately sprung to mind back then, and I have yet to shake from my mind, was prejudice. I felt discriminated against despite all of my hard work, and the only reason I could think of for being discriminated against, was being poor.

So naturally, I "rebelled" against the school, and my parents who were upset with me for not being picked (and had somehow assumed I was being lazy, and took the teachers' side...man, don't you wish parents still had teachers' backs? Haha), naturally my marks dropped like a rock. If I'm not going to be appreciated/acknowledged for my effort, why put the effort in? If I wouldn't be able to afford going to university and getting a good job anyway, why should I bother? From Grade 6-10 my marks went from high 90s to low 70s and even 60s...kind of wish I could go back and time and slap myself, but don't we all.

In grade 11, the kindness and support from one teacher helped me turn things around - I was in desperate need of corrective lenses (for probably about 10 years by that point) and simply couldn't afford it...so my teacher advocated to the school admin, who wrote me a cheque and told me to go get an eye exam done and buy some glasses. I was moved by this gesture, here was someone who not only didn't see me as "that smelly kid who's going to end up a criminal" and instead felt compassion. As you'd expect, I began to try once more and my marks immediately jumped back up into the 90s. In grade 12 I had that game-changer moment - I realized I could go to university, a thought which had never occurred to me. To get into the program I wanted, it required I do a "victory lap" year (as I hadn't taken enough science up to that point) to fill in the last science.


The real game-changer - why medicine?

About a month before beginning my victory lap year of high school, my dad woke me up one morning at about 6am saying his chest hurt and that he wanted to sleep on my bed as it was more comfortable. I went and slept on the couch without giving it another thought, he was perfectly fine after all. A few hours later when I woke up again he was insisting he needed to go to the hospital. My mom didn't take him seriously and kind of rolled her eyes at him, and so she sent me with him to the ER. We had to take the bus as we had no vehicle. Upon arriving at the ER, we found out my father's health card was expired by about 5 months or so, and were given a sheet outlining the various medical costs we'd incur. Naturally being unable to afford any of it, we immediately went downtown to get his card renewed. We had just done so and were on our way out of the building when he collapsed from a heart attack on the elevator down. The paramedics arrived after what felt like an eternity (it always does, doesn't it?) and pronounced him dead on arrival. I was dumbfounded, he had no family history, no prior episodes, and seemed perfectly fine even the day before. He was also in his 40s...his only real risk factor that I'm aware of was, you guessed it, being poor.

This instilled in me a burning hatrid/fear of both, elevators, and the current medical system. I had vowed to do everything I can to become a doctor so I could do my part in preventing tragedies like this.

As if coping with the loss wasn't bad enough, there went our family's sole financial provider (my mother is disabled). Despite this I finished up my final year of high school while battling what I can only assume was undiagnosed depression, using studying as a coping mechanism. I memorized my biology textbook front to back (even the obscure vitamins/minerals in table form) as I'd read it for about 7 hours a day while remaining focused on that goal. Thankfully I applied to university and was accepted to every program I'd applied to, and some even had a fairly respectable entrance scholarship. I chose a Kinesiology program that was local as I wanted to cut down on costs.


The Ordeal

Things did not look up for long however and eventually the OSAP/scholarship funds dwindled. By December of my first year, we were unable to pay rent and by February, we were evicted, with nowhere to stay and little money to feed ourselves with. We were homeless. Being the eldest male I took it upon myself to try and find work, so I wound up finding a job at a steel refinery, drilling holes into locomotive parts. Unfortunately I could not keep up and had to make a difficult choice - should I give up university to go work full time in the steel mill to feed my family?

I decided not to, after consulting my family...they didn't want me to drop out like my father did, and instead I looked to tutoring. I applied for, and was offered a TA job and also began tutoring local students in first year calculus. However I was so desperate that I did not charge a competitive rate - I sat in the math building of my alma mater with a sign that read "Need help, will tutor (math course codes) for food :(" hoping for passers by to take me up on my offer...and they did. I thought it was smart to sit beside the cafe/deli so people could just buy a sandwich and give it to me in exchange for an hour of calculus help.

Unfortunately, some people are inhumane and would call security on me, so I had to convince my university that I had extreme financial need. They offered me a bursary, allowed me to continue tutoring but asked me not to hold up the sign as that "detracted from the university environment" whatever that meant. So we compromised, I sat near a blackboard with "Calculus Help! Will take a sandwich :)" written on it. The university accepted this, as it made it appear more like a school function, and didn't look "quite so homeless." I would now find that a bit insulting, but I was thankful for anything I could get.

It was at this point that I abandoned my hopes of becoming a physician. My colleagues were all gearing up to take the MCAT that summer with their fancy prep courses and books, and here I was struggling to feed myself and clean my clothes. I was crushed, but kept telling myself "People like me don't become doctors." It helped a bit...

That continued for about a month... and thankfully I saved up enough to pay off the landlord and move into a new place. But it didn't last... I'll never forget that sinking feeling, that defeated feeling in my heart when I realized it was almost exam time. You might think I was worried about my own exams, given I had very little time or motivation to study, but that had nothing to do with it. That meant the semester would break for the summer which meant two things - First, my TA work would be over, and secondly, the demand for tutoring would drop...both of which supported us for the time being. I was utterly heartbroken, and terrified.

But a miracle happened - my mom came into some money from the government which provided enough to pay rent and utilities. We were set, and I had a place to live...the ordeal was over!

I finished my first year with a 3.0 GPA...a proverbial premed hole that, to this day, I've been unable to climb out of.


The rest of my B.Sc. - an important switch

Years 2-4 were relatively uneventful with only mild crises occurring. Unfortunately in nearly every one of those years, I had to drop a course due to some pressing financial need (ie. in second year I dropped a course because my mom needed some medication, and I got about a $400 refund on the course). I had a strong upward trend, 3.7 in both my 2nd and 3rd years. At this point I decided that I had virtually no chance at getting into medical school (rightfully so from the looks of it), so I began looking for other options.


I had met my better half during those years as well, whose moral support has almost certainly kept me from suicide. She was a math major and one year my senior (due to that victory lap year)... despite having had a real knack for math, I hadn't taken any of it at university besides elementary calculus. I got numerous course waivers to take some upper year math courses with her and developed my love affair with math even further - it didn't matter that I'd skipped about six courses, when I took that advanced course in topology I killed it and loved it...so I switched to math in my final year, overloaded with 12 3rd and 4th year math courses (to meet the minimum number of credits needed to graduate) and nailed it, with a 3.9 that year. Unfortunately even that is kind of "meh" by premed standards.


What comes next? More education of course

Those particular courses, so-called "Pure" math (or "theoretical math" to the layman) take a special kind of person to take. That paired with the fact that I was attending a university with a fairly small math program, implied that my upper level courses rarely had more then about 5 people in them. I was the star of those courses once again, just like in elementary school, and so I stood out amongst my peers, and was coerced into applying for a masters degree in the field. "People like me can get masters degrees?" Keep in mind, no one in my family has ever completed university before...and now I was considering doing a Masters? Was I crazy? Could I even manage it?

What followed were easily the best two years of my life. I received some funding which helped immensely and I had a brilliant supervisor who taught me so much about life, reality and how to live. I specialized in a niche-field of mathematics known as knot theory (quite literally - using complicated math ideas to explain/differentiate between different knots). I began reading all about DNA and how the "Unknotting number (a mumbo-jumbo math idea)" is a quantity that was preserved via gel electrophoresis, and that charge/mass/other obvious things didn't explain it as well as this crazy math idea. I began writing a book on the subject as part of my dissertation, stumbled upon a cool new field that just came into existence ("Virtual" knot theory) and began corresponding with professors in Japan, where the field was in its infancy. Imagine having to look up articles in your field, then using google translate on them because the only ones in existence were Japanese! I taught my supervisor about it, and the field has since grown in the western world, and I played a part in it which I'm rather proud of. I wrote the first english textbook on the subject, and in the process, proved a really cool theorem that I accidentally stumbled upon...this constituted my research thesis.

Unfortunately I had a falling out with one professor in my department who, sadly, was an expert in a related field whose support I really needed to pursue doctoral studies. I did not feel like fighting it and got depressed once again, feeling as though my life was a big joke. "People like me don't become doctors" I was still telling myself, only this time I meant it as a "PhD" kind of doctor. Searching for a new path was when I re-realized my dream to be a physician. Unfortunately, I was as non-traditional as they came - no pre-requisites, no MCAT, no hospital involvement, and no "premed-y" stuff at all. I used some of my grant money to write the MCAT for the first time, but unfortunately I scored rather mediocrely so I chose, like a broken record, not to pursue medicine. "People like me don't become doctors." Instead I applied to teacher's college and was accepted.

Teacher's Ed was fairly uneventful for me, but sadly the Ontario Government imposed new regulations on hiring practices for teachers...as I was finishing up teachers college. It now takes on average 6 years for a teacher (once they become a supply teacher) to become a full time teacher. Naturally, despite having done everything right IMHO, I just couldn't land that coveted supply teacher job...for 3 years (and counting) so I can't even start the counter on those 6 years, and they only open the supply list once per year (it's a lot like med apps, haha). If it's going to take me at least 6 years to become a teacher, why wouldn't I pursue med school? I'd have to be an idiot not to try, right?

So there I was - three degrees, a lot of education-related debt, and not really employable...so I went full force into two things - tutoring math and science (which I had done all along, and now command a rather respectable hourly rate with all of my credentials), and obsessing over this idea of becoming a physician.


Fixing myself for the adcoms

I applied for the first cycle after finishing my B.Ed. (2013-2014) to the only schools I satisfied the requirements for (I still don't have those pesky orgo pre-reqs) - Queens, Mac and UofT. I told myself "If I can land that interview, I know I can nail it...I have so much I can talk about! But I don't look very good on paper, I realize that, so I may never get the chance. If I get an interview, I will reapply, if not, I won't." Queens and Mac rejected me early in the process, but UofT held onto me until the last interview spots were filled. It was utter agony to be kept waiting that long! But it gave me renewed confidence - UofT was interested, maybe with a different applicant pool, or slightly improved stats, I could get an interview spot! It was around this time that I joined PM101.

So I had a renewed passion, I was surrounded by colleagues in similar, or even worse situations, who were all supporting each other and pulling toward that same goal. In no small way, has this forum and its kind people impacted my journey and for that I'm thankful. I began to study incredibly hard for an MCAT re-write, saved up money and got some help from my mother in law to pay for books and AAMC Practice Tests, and OMSAS fees, so I was off to the races. By the end, my score was in the high 30s! I was pumped, wrote the test...and scored significantly lower on test day, but still had a respectable 12/10/11.

I began volunteering like crazy too, at a hospital notably (as I had no prior clinical experience) and with the elderly, particularly with dementia patients and those with special needs/mental disabilities. A truly humbling experience, but it wasn't always rewarding as it can be extremely difficult. Regardless I did what any premed would do - I manned up and did it, and I tried my best. Over the past few years (beginning before teachers college) I also helped pilot a youth centre for underprivileged kids where I taught them math and breakdancing and tied them together. It was tremendously successful, and I began managing the finances over this past year. Unfortunately, it's a non-profit so this didn't provide me with any income!

Unfortunately because of all of this investing of time and money into med apps, my very carefully budgeted/balanced finances for myself and my family didn't really hold up. My family began to have problems paying their bills as I couldn't siphon money their way, and there have been several close calls that could have resulted in a similar ordeal to that dark time during my undergrad. I felt (and still feel) horribly selfish for pursuing my dreams against all odds this past while.


Another Dark Period


In January of this year, I received a rejection from Mac and Queens. Queens disappointed me tremendously and infuriated me. I was finally over their cutoffs, it was supposed to come down to extracurriculars, and wow what a story I've got! This was my year... but sadly, it wasn't so. I harboured an incredible amount of resentment - why have I been wasting my time and energy? Why has my hard work never been beneficial? Why does everything I touch seem to turn to crap? I've wasted the past x years of my life....etc.

It was so difficult to keep the feelings inside, to feel like all I've done in my life is give to others and try my best, only to have life and the people in it give nothing in return. It felt so right, that I'd make a career out of helping others because it was what came so naturally to me... I was furious and not myself for several days, to the point where some of my loved ones were crying, intervention-style, telling me they didn't want me to become some broken person...and I finally had access to something I hadn't had previously, which concerned them: alcohol.

Before things got too dire I snapped out of it, thanks to my better half. If I didn't have enough moral support, I may have ended my life right then and there. All I could see were rejection letters, financial difficulties, and biological clocks spinning out of control...I needed my way out.


My Success? It's all in how you look at it

I began to look into alternatives at this point, including other programs, or jobs I could do with my current education level. I stumbled upon a few that clicked with me, ranging from chiropractic to mathematical finance, to computer science, to a doctorate in theoretical physics of all things. I applied, and naturally, got into all of them (except for some I'm still waiting on). I realized at this point that even though I'm not meant to be a doctor, I've still overcome tremendous odds and will continue to overcome these odds. I'm still a pretty darn smart guy, and I've done really well for myself.


I had an interview for a particularly competitive program (but one more up my alley in terms of being math-y), where the interviewer wound up boasting about why I was great, instead of the other way around. It was ridiculous, all these things that adcoms didn't think were enough impressed nearly everyone else in every other walk of life. I was accepted, nearly instantly, to a highly competitive professional masters program (they only accept 6 students, 1 guaranteed from Canada, 5 more international, and it's the only such program in Canada) which promises a really good salary at the end of the day. Best of all, it's employable - it takes very specialized math skills so they can't train very many people at a time. Apparently, I have a skill set which clearly the med adcoms do not value, but which made me a perfect match for this career.


So I had to make the judgement call - turn down my offers and try for medicine again (and risk having my family become homeless again during the next year or two), or accept...I'd be foolish not to. Sure it's boring and not my passion, but I will gladly take this offer. The program is expensive so I'm currently in the process of procuring a loan with some difficulty due to my "shady financial history" (ie. I was born into the wrong family). 


With this, I slowly but surely, gave up the fantasy of becoming a physician. "People like me don't become doctors" is something I'll be telling myself for a long time now...but with each passing day, I can finally feel that resentment slipping away. If adcoms don't want me, then it's their loss...not mine. It's time to build my new life and say good bye to my old one.

And right on schedule, a few days ago, UofT sent me my final rejection. Ironically, despite devoting all that time and energy to bettering myself, I did worse this year. I was not interview wait-listed, which means I have no idea how far into the process I got.



The conclusion - my new dream, the moral of the story, and farewell


"People like me don't become doctors....they become good people and good parents."


My new dream is not to be a doctor, but instead to provide my family and children with the ability to follow their dreams unhindered...and I will do this even if it means sacrificing my own personal desire to be a physician. This is a dream that I can finally see come to pass.

Don't be fooled, not even for a second - if you're here reading this, you are destined for greatness. You're the cream of the crop, even if medicine doesn't work out... even if life hasn't been kind to you... I promise you. Things will improve.

  • LostLamb, loodogg, Siefer1322 and 52 others like this

#940991 Accepted/Rejected/Waitlisted??? (for current applicants)

Posted by Birdy on 12 May 2015 - 12:31 PM

Accepted to Hamilton campus!

GPA: 3.98
VR: 13
Just finished my third year (first degree non-trad)
Mac considers me IP by their criteria.
Thought my interview was fun.

Holy crap I'm shaking. I will, of course, be accepting.
  • Borborygmi, medhopeful64, MeGusta and 38 others like this

#1004599 What Did You Wish Someone Told You Before Starting Med School?

Posted by distressedpremed on 22 May 2016 - 05:50 PM

CC3 here. Should be studying, but this is a welcome distraction.  


I've got a long list but here's my top ten. 


1) Social circles/dynamics, especially at a large school, are not that important. It might feel that way in M1/M2 when you're in the classroom setting, but people are rapidly segregated and social dynamics change immensly in clerkship and beyond. Don't invest too much into making sure you show up at every party or accept every invitation for a social event.  It's low yield unless you for some reason, it's something that you value immensely as a person. Eventually the high school setting disappears and people are left to fend on their own. 


2) That being said, in a large school, inevitably cliques will happen. Accept it as a law of nature, just like oil and water. Find your clique, have a group of close friends that you feel comfortable with and understand your values. Treasure your friends outside of medicine. Your friends in med school will be the ones laughing/whining with you, and your friends outside medicine will help to keep you feeling like a "real person" who isn't worrying about a patient's eGFR at 2 AM.  This is high yield and has been reiterated by many med students and residents before me. 


3) Be passionate about something in medicine, and follow-through with it. If you're interested in a speciality, and you know that speciality is something you most likely pursue, be proactive about it.  Go do research, present and publish publish publish. Meet faculty and residents. Buy books in that specialty and read outside of your classes.  Ask for opportunities. Question yourself consistently about why you like the speciality - if you have a good answer most of the time that you personally feel comfortable about, it's most likely right for you.  Shut out the haters or people calling you a "gunner". 


4)  If you're not sure what you're interested in you should be spending even MORE time than the guy/girl doing #3 exploring in your M1/M2 years.  There are a lot of people that aren't "sure" and says "I'll wait till clerkship to decide", and near the end of clerkship they still don't have an answer that they're happy about.  Well, there are a lot of specialties that aren't covered enough in clerkship or covered at all. You might be missing out, and you won't be able to retrospectively blame anyone but yourself. It's your responsibility to do career exploration. Use your school's resources, and again ask for opportunities. Find your passion in medicine - remember what you interviewed here for. 


5) You should be doing a sport. You need to exercise as a med student. The number of hours holed up neurotically studying is not good for anyone's health, let alone yours and you are not the exception. Start making exercise something you're passionate about it.  Solitary or team based, it doesn't matter so long as it's a regular part of your routine. Do it starting first year. Not asking you to get ripped or swole, but get out there and sweat and have fun. It'll fight off the fat and depression.  Very high yield stuff here. 


6) Sometimes it's easy to say "yes" to too many people, and forget about self-care. Learn how to politely say no, especially when you don't have much to gain from the encounter and there is a power differential. It will help immensely later on. When asking for opportunities, it's easy to get shut down sometimes. Be persistent, try again or ask for advice from someone. Grow a thick skin. 


7) Ask for help when you need to, especially for mental health. If you're struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, please seek help. Talk to your friends and family, or your school counselling services.  Other people might seem happy on the outside, but everyone in medicine has thought about quitting at least once - I know I have. You're not the exception. 


8) P=MD. P =MD. P=MD. Pass, move on with your life. You have better things to do with your time, like spending time on yourself or your loved ones. P = MD. P =MD. P =MD.


9) As much as people think that their speciality or subject area is God's gift to the planet, it is not.  This is why people carry pagers around. If you're interested you will revisit and develop your own approach to the material. If not, know enough to pass, show some (polite) interest and move on with your life. 


10) Read Ralk's blog. Some good stuff there. He's more articulate than I will ever be, and it has good pearls/perspectives on med life and education. 


11) if you don't agree with any of the above, just remember this: "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

  • Lactic Folly, robclem21, ralk and 34 others like this

#998747 What They Don't Tell You Before Getting Into Medicine.

Posted by Regrettingitall on 04 May 2016 - 04:13 AM

Well into medicine now, I find myself regretting the day I ever decided that medicine would be my career. Many of my colleagues feel the same way, but I can only speak for myself. The reason for this post is not to deter anyone from entering medicine, but to hopefully have some people deeply consider their motives and desires for entering this profession before committing themselves. I honestly believe that I just didn't have nearly enough information when I chose medicine. Or perhaps I did, but my ideals may have forced me to persevere. Years from when I decided, I can't explain how I never saw this earlier. 


But it doesn't matter now. I've decided to leave the toxicity of this profession. I've decided to give up the ability to seriously help others, the respect, the income, and every other benefit medicine offers. I've decided to give it up and take my life back. My life is worth it. 


Maybe these next few points will fall on deaf ears, but perhaps not. However, I feel an obligation to tell you, the younger generation not yet committed to this life, as no one did for me. Please ignore the fact that this is my first post under this handle. I was once active on these boards, and many know my real life alias of my regular handle. Those people, I'm sure, will find out eventually. But it isn't the time yet.

Hear me out.


Medical school starts out like a dream come true. The parties, the 100 odd friends you basically get given to you, the camaraderie, and the apparent lack of difficulty of the subject matter. It sucks you in and consumes you. I thought I had it made. But then come the professionalism talks (repeated, over and over). They drilled it into us that we are absolutely privileged to be a part of this profession. They tell you about how we are held to a higher standard, how we must conduct ourselves to the public. At first, it all seems fine. Why the hell would I care? I've obviously conducted myself pretty decently up until this point in life. I didn't really feel privileged, though. I worked my ass off to get here. Early mornings, late nights, ignoring friends, rinse and repeat. I earned my seat.


But then they start to drill it into us even more, and the message becomes very clear: We, as people, are not important. Our feelings, marriages, kids are not important. What is important is our patients, full stop. And they make you believe them by telling horror stories of medical students gone by who made the slightest of mistakes, and are now flipping burgers in the hospital cafeteria. They accomplished their mission: they put the fear of God into us, made us walk on eggshells, and made it so we always remember our "privilege" if ever we second guess ourselves, or think about having one too many drinks at the bar for fear of doing something stupid while drunk. God forbid we let loose on a Friday night. But still we persevered.


I would be lying if I said the first two years of medical school taught me nothing. It taught me to care about the community and be involved in it, even if at the expense of my own personal life. I enjoyed being a part of it, and being of benefit to those less fortunate. That feeling kept me going.


And then clerkship started. Clerkship was hell. Plain and simple. Think of the entirety of clerkship as an audition. You need to be "on", every single day. You need to say "thank you" when someone sh*ts all over you. And believe me, they will. If you work with any preceptors over the age of 40, they will have grown up in a time that promoted shame-based learning. And, like domestic abuse, the cycle of abuse in medicine also self-perpetuates. I still remember the first time I was humiliated by an attending. It was in an operating room on my surgery rotation, and I was 6 questions into a "pimping" session (http://jama.jamanetw...ticleid=2474430). I got the 6th wrong. The preceptor made sure I knew I was an idiot. In front of everyone: circulating nurse, scrub nurse, resident, anesthetist, and, worst of all, an AWAKE patient under spinal anesthetic (to this day, I will never forget that the reason you remove both the head of the pancreas and the duodenum in a whipple procedure is that they share an arterial supply). This is common, so don't be surprised by it. You will be shamed on a daily basis, unless you are the lucky 10% of students whose attending isn't an absolute psychopath. Prepare yourself for it.

It will teach you to be tough, or it will break you down. Students regularly take a year or two off in the middle for various reasons, but mostly mental health issues related to school. 

You WILL be on call. 1 in 4 usually. 26 hours straight, still always "on". Auditioning. Always auditioning. 

You are still fighting for a career at this point. You do everything you can for a good comment on your "MSPR", basically a report card that CaRMS programs read when you are trying to apply for residency. Even one unfavourable comment can sink your battleship. Doesn't matter if you are applying for surgery and the bad comment is in peds. It will sink you. And even when you are a superstar, and do 80% of the attending's work for them, they may still write a generic one liner: "keen student, shows up on time". Might as well have just asked you to come in so they can slap you on the face directly.  So prepared to work hard and look "keen", even if you absolutely hate "well child" visits in outpatient pediatric clinics. Prepared to get sh*t on, and to respond with "Thank you, sir. Please sir, may I have another?". Any other response can cut your career short. And the MD without a residency is useless, unless your entire goal was to get "Dr" on your credit card (which I am aware, now, that you can just request that even if you DO flip burgers). 


So you've shouldered your way to the end, decided on a specialty (in what is not nearly enough time, as you have to arrange electives basically before you have exposure to most specialties), and sucked enough D to get some decent reference letters. Hopefully, at least. You don't get to see them.Then comes CaRMS time. Spending ridiculous amounts of time and money preparing personal letters, trying to convince every program in the country why you think theirs is the best, and why they should pick you. And then the waiting game, and you still might go unmatched, and be left without a job. Hopefully an unmatched student can come give you the personal experience of the agony of that experience, and enlighten you in that regard.


And then residency comes along. I won't repeat everything I said about clerkship. But a summary: it's clerkship on crack. More work, more hours (80+/week), more responsibility, more getting shit on. The one upside is you now give zero f*cks about what people think about you. You got your career, unless you are in the 80% of specialties where jobs are now scarce after residency, so you have to be well liked. HAH. It never ends. The nurses also don't treat you like absolute sh*t anymore. You now outrank them. Tangential side note: never believe the nurse's charting resp rate. They literally never count it, and always report it as 18 or 20. Because it's so hard to watch a guy's chest move for 20 seconds and multiply by 3. Oh well.


Finally, you are a royal college physician. Now you have to go interview for jobs, 13 years from when you graduated high school. If you picked ortho, or any of the other surgical specialties, be prepared to locum, or work somewhere you don't want to work. The old guys won't retire, and there's no OR time for the fresh new grads whose hands don't shake like a reluctant bride at the altar. And be prepared to deal with the endless politics of medicine. Everyone has a chip on their shoulder. Everyone. You still work a ton of hours, and still get treated like sh*t. Only this time, it's the patients that walk all over you. Dr Google always knows more than you, according to them. Every patient has a nurse friend that thinks you should manage their disease in a certain way. Good for them.


And don't you even think of trying to convince them that they are wrong. Come off as offensive in any way, and you will get a complaint to your respective college: our "self regulatory" body. They literally only exist to "protect the public" from us deadly doctors. Our motives must be so sinister. If ever you think a patient is batsh*t, bring a chaperone to the encounter so you can prove your side of things. And document, document, document. 

It all wears on you after a while. It wore the shit out of me, and continues to. There is a reason physicians have a suicide rate almost double** the general population. Our addiction rates are 20-25% compared to the 15-20% of the general population. Eating disorders, depression, anxiety, etc... You could argue this is because of the personalities that enter medicine are predisposed to mental health issues. Maybe. But medicine takes a tangible toll, and is solely responsible for at least some of the cases. This is not to mention the divorces, and being absent from the lives of your children. Your spouses and kids deserve you too, they deserve you more than your patients. Don't forget that they sacrifice in order for you to do this job. Interestingly, surgeons have the lowest addiction rates in medicine, but the highest divorce rates. Pick your poison.


If you know you can withstand all this, then all the power to you. People need us. We genuinely do good. We help people, and I would by lying if I said that I didn't get an enormous amount of satisfaction from this fact. 


But if you think that this road may cause you more trouble than it's worth, than I urge you to consider deeply your decision to pursue this career. For many, it is more trouble than it's worth. It was, for me. I just wish I realized it earlier, before I paid the high price in my personal and family life. No longer, though. 


After all this time, I have decided to walk away, to cut my losses and turn to something else. I've had a good run, but all good things come to an end. 

Again, I don't mean to purposely discourage people from medicine. I just want you to know the TRUTH so you can make an informed decision for yourself. The same informed decision we always say our patients should make. Why should we be any different, any less?


Regardless, good luck in your future endeavours. If you choose medicine, I hope that it gives you what you need each and every day. If you don't, no one will give you fault.


Consider dentistry, though.

  • ygella, shikimate, ralk and 33 others like this

#1033859 La Médecine, Ça Vaut Le Coup!

Posted by Noval on 03 March 2017 - 03:27 AM

Bonjour à tous, 


Un ami à moi m'a reparlé de ce forum, sur lequel j'étais lorsque j'étais à votre place en processus d'admission pour la médecine en 2009. J'étais sur ce forum il y a déjà de cela presque 7 ans, échangeant avec bon nombre de personnes qui sont devenus plus tard mes collègues de travail à l'hôpital. Je suis présentement résident en médecine de famille qui va débutera les compétences avancées en médecine d'urgence très prochainement, le fameux R3 d'urgence. 


J'avais à ce moment-là un bon nombre d'amis du cégep qui n'avaient pas réussi à entrer du premier coup. Quelques années plus tard, avec un bac en poche, ou une partie de bac en poche, ou même déjà sur le marché du travail, un bon nombre d'entre eux sont finalement entré dans le programme, grâce à leur persévérance et leur travail acharné. Et ces personnes-là, maintenant, sont des externes en médecine, des résidents en ophtalmologie, des résidents en anesthésie, etc. 


Simplement un message pour vous dire qu'on se rend compte de pas mal de choses comme résident: 


La passion est un must pour tout le monde. Que ce soit l'ingénierie, les sciences ou la médecine, nul ne peut vivre une vie accomplie sans elle. Si c'est la médecine, foncez et travaillez pour, même si c'est pas à votre première tentative.  C'est un privilège et une vocation d'accompagner des gens dans le besoin, malgré tout ce que l'on peut entendre dans les médias récemment.  Si ce n'est pas la médecine, je respecte et j'encourage cela. 


J'espère revoir des figures que je connais sur ce forum, sinon, je suis ravi de répondre aux questions, malgré que je suis rendu un dinosaure dans ce processus des admissions.



  • Noval, codebar, Arztin and 22 others like this

#1000437 Disappointed With Assignment To Uoft Mississauga Campus

Posted by Fresh fry on 10 May 2016 - 09:55 PM

Do you really want to post this today? Could it wait a bit? PM me if you want me to delete it.

  • ploughboy, B3.572A, Hanmari and 22 others like this

#941568 Success Stories- Non Trad Style!

Posted by Birdy on 12 May 2015 - 10:53 PM

Where to begin? I tend towards prolixity so go get yourself a cup of tea if you're going to read this.

I've documented this whole process in excruciating detail at my blog which, to my immense surprise, has gained a small following. I've met a lot of really wonderful people, virtually "met" even so many more, and this whole crazy journey has just come to a rather triumphant midpoint.

Like many of you, I've wanted to be a doctor since I was small.

Throughout elementary and middle school, I was a gifted, enthusiastic student. But by high school, I started struggling badly with mental health issues. My parents did not do a good job rising to the challenge I posed. At 16, I started getting real help for myself and things started getting better, but it took a lot of work. I was a terrible student in high school - I just couldn't summon the energy to care.

Still, I was accepted to U of O in grade 12, and was going to attend for physics. I was thinking I'd go on to medical physics or medicine; either field appealed to me equally.

But almost as soon as my first semester started, my parents threw a huge wrench in the works. As a parent now myself, I still do not agree with their reasoning for what they did. I cannot fathom putting one of my kids in the position that I was placed in. My mother once told me that they didn't think I could succeed at university, as if that excuses what their decisions cost me. It was ten years ago, but still stings.

I had to withdraw from U of O. One of the hardest days of my life. I got a couple more jobs pretty much immediately, and started working more than full time. I figured I could save and return to school, where I felt I belonged.

It was in November of that year that I met the man who would become my husband. We met and fell in love very quickly and were very surprised to find out in May of 2006, just a couple weeks after we had decided to get married, that we were going to be parents. We were married that summer and our oldest was born in January 2007. I was 19.

We moved to my home province when our son was a year old, and spent several years barely scraping by, working jobs in food service, manufacturing, retail, call centres. We were by times quite poor, though things had started looking up for a while before everything collapsed around us. It was my rock bottom, the day I truly felt I was failing as a mother, in the late spring of 2011. My husband went out west to work soon after, but we knew the oil fields would only ever be a temporary option for our family.

I knew I needed to go back to school so I could take care of my family properly so I applied to the local university's nursing program in 2012. I was rejected, but somehow had been accepted to the faculty of science. I wasn't thinking I would go, but my husband insisted I consider going and then apply to medicine, like I had always wanted to.

I was hesitant, but decided to go for it. Going back to school felt like coming home after a long trip. It was what I was built for. To my surprise, I made a 4.0 my first year. I wrote my MCAT the following summer and to my even greater surprise made a 11/13/10 on my first attempt.

Last fall, at the start of third year, I applied to four schools, interviewed at two, and was rejected post-interview from one. This morning, I was accepted to McMaster.

I can't even begin to describe how I feel right now. Amazed, perhaps. Surprised. This year has been very difficult for us and this is sort of the first thing to actually go right in a long time. I am so honoured that McMaster considers me someone who would suit their program.

Over the last three years, I have been the recipient of so much support from my unwavering husband, my friends, my school, my community, my workplace, and of course PM101. The support has meant the world to me. The number of congratulations I received today moved me to tears.

I am so very humbled by today, and this is a day that will live in my memory for the rest of my life.

Three years ago I told my husband that people like me don't go to med school. It seemed like a pipe dream. But here I am, and here you can be too.
  • sucotai, TracyK, chenoa and 21 others like this

#939897 May 12 Support Thread

Posted by Jaybird on 08 May 2015 - 12:14 AM

OMSAS Countdown Log, D-5. M1 Jaybird dictating. Applicants presenting with increasing levels of stress and fatigue. Some have reported dream-like delusional states (ref. addendum #164, applicant T. Tryptophan). Others have reported behaviour worryingly close to self-harm (ref. addendum #158, applicant P. Yike). Observed behaviour, however, indicates that the vast majority of behaviour is healthy and mutually supporting, even when harmful behaviours were indirectly suggested (ref. addendum #155) by the observer after approval by ethics board. It is the assessment of the observer that despite self-reporting negative thoughts/actions, all applicants observed are in fact psychologically healthy and highly intelligent/motivated individuals temporarily affected by stressful conditions. Current proposed plan is to issue offers of admission to all applicants. M1 Jaybird, end dictation.



  • Recoil, believe, Birdy and 20 others like this

#998431 May 10 Support Thread

Posted by Keratoconus on 03 May 2016 - 12:57 AM



just a few more days of waiting! im excited for you all :')

  • RedLily, Savac, daftypatty and 19 others like this

#1031862 I Feel Like I Am Super Average...

Posted by rmorelan on 14 February 2017 - 12:22 AM

ok I say this every single year because I think it is important. Western, and every other medical school for that matter, is only going to interview people that they think will realistically do well in their program.  If you get an interview at a school it is because you have earned that position - we talk a lot about the randomness of the process - that is true but it randomness only in the sense that great candidates do not get an interview sometimes, not that bad candidates do. They simple do not have the time/resources to waste interviewing people that won't be good for them.


The worse thing you can do is to psych yourself out to thinking you are not supposed to be there, that is some form of a mistake, and you are inadequate. Then you get all nervous and freaked out and then BAM - you become a worse applicant and don't get in. Only thing is you are doing it to yourself. The school isn't. 


So stop that. Stop it right now. Stop it because it is nonsense, and stop it because it will mess with your chances. 


You think the average medical student has 100 publications, top tier athlete, blah, blah.....no they have not.  Obviously if you are amazing you are more open about saying you are amazing - that is a selection bias. It is not just here on the forum but everywhere else in life as well ha, and in all things. Maybe 10-20% of a class has this glow in the dark sort of applicants - the rest are hard working, smart people - which is what it takes to be a great doctor.  


more specifically for Western - if they really wanted to evaluate your ECs then they would do it in the pre-selection process. They don't. That TELLS you something - I sometimes think universities really have missed the point spending all day teaching the what and how, but never the why? (a bit of rant I know but the more educated I get the more frustrated I am with that. When they say knowledge is power, it is knowing the "why" that is that power's source. Why does a school select applicants in a particular way, and can you figure that out from how they select people?)  Ask yourself - why does Western only consider GPA and MCAT for interview, and then why is the MCAT the real barrier? Again they don't directly evaluate ECs - why? What is the basis for Western's interview questions etc - and why for that as well? I mean overall we as a profession are incredibly transparent in what we are looking for - more transparent than any other profession by far I believe telling you exactly the criteria. In general medical school questions are not "did you climb a mountain?" but closer to "if you decided that the mountain must be climbed, how would you do it?"


bottom line - yes, you need to calm down :) Deep breaths because fear really is the mind killer. Time to focus. You have an interview - you are in the top 10% of the people that applied give or take. That is no accident, now go make it count. 

  • robclem21, Birdy, Arztin and 19 others like this

#1001542 Phd2Md's Advice On Interviewing Well

Posted by PhD2MD on 13 May 2016 - 02:21 AM

Hi everyone,


This community has been a great resource for me, so I've been looking for a way to give back. Ever since D-day (aka May 10th for my fellow OMSAS warriors), I've been getting lots of PMs about interview skills. Partly because I got multiple offers, and partly because on my A/W/R posts I noted how well the interviews went. Rather than answering each PM separately I figured I'd make a post to point people towards so that others might benefit in the future.


I'm not an interview god, I didn't know how to interview before I started, and I wasn't confident in my skills going in. However, the people I practiced with did compliment me quite a bit, and during my interviews several interviewer remarked on how well the conversation was going. I'm pretty sure that interviewers aren't supposed to give you any sort of feedback, but mine did. At the end of my Western interview, my interviewers spent about 10 minutes talking about how perfect I am for Western and vice versa. During my U of T interviews, one interviewer ended the conversation by saying "good job buddy", another by saying "you're an amazing story teller", and another with "this was the most engaging conversation I've had today". So while I'm not a natural interviewee, and I was quite nervous about the whole interview process, things went well. Bellow is why I think it went well for me. It may work for you, it may not. This is a case study with n=1.


There's nothing magic about it, there are no secrets. There are, however, golden basics rules. Follow them, they work, and don't tell yourself that you can skip the hard work and figure our how to interview by "cramming" for a week.


For MMIs:

-Find a good medical ethics book (ie: Doing Right, and some basic CanMEDS resource)

-Find a good person (ie: a med student or anyone who interviews well and can give feedback)

-Read the book, practice with the person (realistic role play), take their feedback and edit your answer. I couldn't always find someone to practice with so sometimes I would pretend someone was in the room, time my self, and hope others didn't think I was hallucinating.

-Wash, rinse repeat on a regular basis (I did 1-2 hours per day for a few weeks). Only time will make your comfortable, confident, and cunning at MMI. See attachment for the Big List of MMI Questions, do as many as possible.


For traditional interviews:

-List ALL of your interesting personal stories (including ABS)

-create a cool narrative (even if its short) for each one

-incorporate a CanMEDS characteristic into each one (don't force it, it should be obvious from the way you tell the story)

-Look up the top health/social news stories of the last 2-3 years and develop an opinion/narrative about those

-Practice with someone (realistic, timed, role play), or alone (but still outloud) if need be

-Wash, rinse repeat on a regular basis (I did 1-2 hours per day for a few weeks). Only time will make your comfortable, confident, and cunning at traditional interviews. See attachment for the Big List of Traditional Interview questions, do as many as possible



-Start doing realistic practice early, even if you're still new to interviews, and do it frequently.

-In my opinion you should start prepping for MMIs before you prep for traditional interviews, because the MMI "mindset" (fair, balanced, thoughtful) will be invaluable for traditional interview questions.

-If you can walk in confident and calm, you've won half the battle. Practice this every time your practice interviewing.

-Learning to interview well is a life-changing experience. It teaches you how to connect and interact better, it teaches you how to summarize sell your personal brand in a short period of time, it teaches you how to see what's important in someone else's eyes, and as a PhD student who is about to defend, it taught me how to make my research meaningful to pretty much everyone.


Best of luck to all the MD hopefuls. If you have questions, please post in this thread instead of PMing me. If you have a question, chances are someone else will too, so it saves me from having to answer it multiple times and helps more people out. Plus, someone else might have a better answer than me.


PS: I don't know who the original compiler/poster of these "Big Lists" is, but if someone does please link them so they can be credited for their awesome work

Attached Files

  • RedLily, shikimate, Premed23 and 19 others like this

#948531 Success Stories- Non Trad Style!

Posted by Belle_MD on 02 June 2015 - 08:27 PM

Hi guys!


I have wanted to post in this very thread for 5 years now and I am SO happy that I can finally do that today.


My journey started in 2010, I was a student in the 2nd entry nursing program at UOttawa (before that I had done a psych degree, not all full-time years). While I was a student I became very interested in medicine and decided to take a chance and study for the MCAT in the summer before going into 4th year. At that time, I had never taken sciences beyond grade 11 chemistry and bio....I did prep classes but ultimately I bombed the MCAT, especially the physical sciences section (I mean BOMBED!! haha). So no surprise there I was rejected pre-interview at the 2 schools I applied to. I really had no clue what I was doing and how competitive this process is, or what it took to actually have a shot at interviewing. This forum was a huge wake up call for me! At that point, I put medicine on the back-burner and focused on finishing nursing and ended up getting my dream nursing job.


After working as a nurse for 2 years, I still kept thinking about medicine. I started studying for the MCAT once again, but was still struggling, especially with the sciences. I became very discouraged and started to explore my options. Ultimately, I was pretty certain I was never going to ace the MCAT, but I knew I could ace university courses and get myself a stellar GPA if I wanted to...so I set my sights on Ottawa U and choose the path that was most realistic for me. I knew it was very limiting only applying to one school and putting all my eggs in 1 basket, but for me it made the most sense. But another roadblock - my nursing degree was not considered full time by Ottawa U, so I would have to go back to school yet again for another degree (my 3rd undergrad degree! yikes!). I had one full-time year from my psych studies, with an OK GPA (3.7)....so my goal was to go back full-time, get straight As to boost my GPA, and at the same time get lots of great experiences to add to my application. I left a full time permanent nursing job to take a huge pay cut in a part-time research job, and also took 2 casual nursing jobs - all so I could pay the bills (barely!) and chase this dream. It wasn't easy but I made it work - balanced my studies with 3 jobs and multiple volunteer and extracurricular activities. With a lot of hard work I finished those 2 years with a 3.98 GPA and I was in a good position to apply to UOttawa. But another hurdle I had to jump were the dreaded science prereqs - I barely passed chemistry in high school and was so afraid of taking these courses. This past year I completed all 6 science prereqs and got myself an amazing tutor, who helped me get As in those classes!


I was ecstatic this year just to receive an interview from Ottawa U. Many people on this forum reviewed my application for me and gave me so much valuable feedback!! I prepped like crazy for the interview and felt it went really well. May 12th came around and I was waitlisted - yes I was disappointed, but I knew just getting the interview meant I was on the right track. Yesterday I was feeling pretty down and was prepping myself for the reality that I would likely have to apply again this summer. And then this morning happened! I received the email that I was off the wailist and offered admission into Ottawa U! I still can't believe this happened to me!


My story is not the most exciting I know, but I hope it inspires other non-trads like me - you don't have to ace the MCAT or be a science genius to get into medical school. You have to choose the path that is right for you and the most realistic. It is definitely more limiting, but it's not impossible if you put everything you have into it!


Thank you to everyone on here who has helped me along the way! :)

  • Borborygmi, Morinphen, TracyK and 17 others like this

#947447 How To Be Competitive To Match To Ophthalmology

Posted by rip on 29 May 2015 - 07:10 PM

I am also debating ophthalmology (as well as plastics, derm and radiology) when I start med school this fall.  


You seem very passionate about a certain specialty and don't care about money at all...

  • MeGusta, kanakari, slumdogMD and 17 others like this

#917400 Mmi Guide By Arztin

Posted by Arztin on 25 January 2015 - 07:14 PM

Disclaimer: opinion is my own, and I have no incentive from promoting these products. This is how I personally prepared.

Some say it's impossible to prepare, I disgress. I think there is no specific and perfect preparation, but I think the best way to prepare yourself is to acquire a good knowledge base and improve your interviewing skills. This way, you know how to express yourself better, and by acquiring maturity, you get to formulate answers that are more sound.


Beforehand, go figure out on your own what is a MMI. Any school's website will do that. 


Section 1 - Books to buy


1- Book for interviews: http://www.amazon.ca...hool interviews
Buy this book. Period. I really think it's worth every single penny because it actually has contents, plus the fact that 40 bux is really a fair price. In contrast, I personally think the MSC book is crap. It offers no content, which won't help the clueless candidate, plus the fact that it's way too expensive.

The way I recommend using this book:

Although the book has answers, I don't agree with some of them. Instead, I recommend you using your webcam, open a random page, pick a random question, take like 20 seconds to brainstorm and form an answer and watch yourself after: look for verbal communication improvements, flow of ideas, clarity from another person's standpoint.

Obviously, you can always ask for someone else's opinion too, e.g. pick a question, and tell them your answer and probe for feedback. Ideally, pick someone who is mature and has professional experience.


edit: LOL http://www.amazon.ca...hrsr_b_1_5_last

so looks like this book is number 2 in terms of sales regarding general medicine on amazon.ca now lol.


2- Medical ethics: I personnally don't think it's necessary to know more than this:


I think Hebert (Doing Right) is a bit of an overkill plus the fact that it doesn't give you answers, leaving you wandering, although the book itself is pure gold.

3- Books about communication with patients: read about therapeutic communication. Therapeutic communication is often the model of communication for nursing, but it's pretty much the same as the one in medicine (patient centered), and it's great for MMI.

Rationale: actors = patients. Communicating well with actors = shows you can communicate well with patients.

I think chapter 3 of bates is all you need to know, although there is no use buying the entire book just for that.

I personally read this book (and some other ones): http://www.amazon.ca...g with patients

but I think it was a bit of an overkill, although the book itself is pure awesomeness.

Also, if you wish, you can read about therapeutic communication. It's more for nurses but the principles stay the same.


4- I have not read this book myself, so it's purely a suggestion from someone else. A forum user told me they suggest this book highly. https://fernwoodpubl...are-2nd-edition

It is my understanding that in the rest of Canada, they sometimes ask you about your comprehension about the Canadian health system. Wouldn't hurt to read it!


Section 2- Things that are important to know

-"Just be yourself" is actually not useful. If you have the perfect profile, great! If you don't have the right profile/personality traits, be yourself is bad. If you know your personality is incompatible, perhaps you should change some aspects about yourself.


-Read about social issues, social determinants of health, inequalities, psychology. It's more than just an interview. It's about being a mature person knowledgeable about global issues. The more you read, the better off you are. Medical schools want people who are articulate, who are mature. Articulate = good interview and communication skills. Mature = good with people having problems and knowledgeable about social issues.


- Public Health and Education are 2 big things. This is why I suggest to follow Bill Gates and WHO on Facebook. Both will allow you to understand the importance of public/preventive health. Lack of education, food, jobs, vaccines, social inequality = poor health overall. Read about Natives' health, and immigrants health. You'll learn something "cool" while understanding the importance of public health.


-Read stuff about the personnality traits required to be a good doc. CANMEDs would be a good starter. You can browse the competencies in Australia and England. It's pretty much the same thing. There is a new CANMEDs this year. Check it out! CANMEDs compliant = good doctor basically. 


I strongly advise you to understand and know the Calgary-Cambridge structure = basis of a medical interview with a patient. What you will be doing with an actor is in a way the same thing: you see a person who has a problem, and you have to work with the person to solve the problem together. Do note that an MMI scenario is not a medical interview. 


If you know what is the point of a medical interview through this structure, you will understand what to do with actors:
e.g.: an actor has a problem
1- listen without judging, and listen to their concerns and point of view
2- understand them without reassuring prematurily
3- don't belittle nor lecture them
4- make the person understand that you want to work with him or her in order to figure out a solution together
5- try to find common ground and a solution

Obviously, do not be robotic. Do not memorize these steps and apply them like a robot. A MD is a human, not a robot.


-Know the challenges of the healthcare in the next 50 years. A few examples would be: aging population, less Rx are developped, antibiotics are losing efficiency, higher cost of new Rx, how to maintain trust in the medical/scientific field (e.g. Wakefield), the quickly rising costs of health care in Canada and its sustainability, the fact that medical knowledge is multiplying quickly and it's harder and harder for people to keep up to date, etc...


-Know current hot topics: e.g. aboriginal health, physician wages (Qc and Ontario right now), e-cigarettes


-Know about physician burnout and the importance of maintaining life balance.


Watch a bunch of good TED videos. The best one for an interview is this: http://www.ted.com/t...are?language=en

I acutally did that while waiting in front of my doors, in the corridor, reading scenarios: power posing, stretching, jumping, extending myself, whereas others are stressed out. Nobody cares, you don't look ridiculous.

Some other TED talks I really recommend are:  Brian Goldman, the mayor of Oklahoma (Cornett), Goldacre

  • RedLily, thsc, nick and 17 others like this

#977552 Arts Grad With A 520 Mcat Ama

Posted by kbinners on 14 January 2016 - 06:43 PM

Hi folks!


I have a BA in drama and scored 520 on the MCAT in September, so I thought I'd start a thread to encourage all you arts grads out there!!


My final score was 128 in Bio, 128 in Chem/Physics, 132 in Psych/Soc, and 132 in CARS.


To prepare for the med school applications I went back to school to take a few pre-req courses. I took:

  • 1 FCE biology
  • 1 FCE chemistry
  • 0.5 FCE organic chemistry
  • 0.5 FCE biochemistry
  • 0.5 FCE kinesiology
  • No physics, no psychology, and I did not take the second half of ochem
  • I also took high school bio and chem 12, because I didn't have those (it took me 10 days each FT to do them online)

After these classes I started studying for the MCAT itself. I started studying at the beginning of May and wrote the exam September 3rd. While I studied, my life looked like this:

  • I worked 3 days a week on an urban farm in Vancouver (to keep myself moving!)
  • I took several trips back to Ontario to help my mom, who has a terminal illness (during which I did not study)
  • I did a 4-day course on being a doula
  • At first my aim was to study at least 8 hours each of the 4 days I wasn't working, but by the last month I recognized that I was more efficient if I took one day completely off each week. I would spend it hiking or sitting on the beach. Especially with the stress and sadness related to my mom's illness, it was worth taking the time to re-engergize.

I used these things to study:

  • Exam Krackers 2015 complete study package -- I used this for content review and for practice questions
  • Princeton Review 2015 complete -- for the 4 practice exams INVALUABLE
  • AAMC chemistry and physics question packs

Things I did that I think were a good idea:

  • I set a time limit for practice questions from the very beginning. I tend to like to work slowly and carefully, so I was sure timing would be a big problem. Actually, I never failed to finish a section, either on practice exams or test day. I think this is because right from the start, when I was doing content review with EK, I would set an 8-minute time limit on the 8 practice questions interspersed throughout the chapter and stuck to the 30-minute time limits on the EK practice tests. I always went back and reviewed correct and incorrect answers, but the time limit helped me learn to keep the pace up and not get stuck on questions that were hard. 
  • I alternated content review and practice questions from the very beginning. I read and took notes on an EK chapter, then I did the 3 sets of 8 practice questions within that chapter, then I reviewed material I was weak on, then I did the 30 minute test and reviewed that. Next chapter.
  • I did 4 full-length practice exams with the correct timing and break schedule. This helped with stamina, focus and confidence, but it also helped me get my priorities in order. I found the Princeton Review exams were similar to the real exam in that they were less about testing minutia and more about your ability to read an unfamiliar passage, not panic about all the new terminology, and trust that between your knowledge and the info in the passage you will find the answer. Learning not to panic was definitely a skill worth practicing. By the way, I scored between 505 and 510 on the practice exams, but in general it seems that people scored about 10 points higher on the real exams than on the Princeton Review practice exams, so keep that in mind!
  • I accepted that there were a few subjects I just wouldn't know. This was a hard one. I started out wanting to learn every possible fact and formula they could possibly include. But especially with the time and energy I felt I needed to process what was happing to my mom, I started to triage. I used the AAMC info on the exam content to prioritize what to drill, and what to leave. I knew the both ochem and physics, my weakest subjects, were comparatively small portions of the exam. I did study the physics, but after gaining a basic level I stopped beating myself up for not being a superstar on those passages. I rocked the first half of ochem, but after reading through the content for the second half I basically accepted that learning that material would take more time than it was worth on the exam. 

How I got 132s: 

  • CARS: unfortunately I really don't have much advice here. I didn't really study for it. I didn't really take any of the advice from the prep books. I always read every passage and answered every question. On the real exam I actually went through the entire section a second time. I do not consider myself a fast reader. In middle school I had a teacher who mocked me for being the slowest person in the class. Dunno, guys. I do read a lot. I read fiction, I read non-fiction. My BA is in drama with a minor in English. Text analysis is just a thing I do. Honestly, I think the best piece of advice I read in a prep book on this section was to actually be interested in the passage -- or find a way to be interested (pretend a guy you like recommended this essay and wants to talk about it later, for example).
  • Psych/Soc: so much of this section is just a vocabulary test. This is one part where I did use multiple companies for content review. I learned the EK terminology really thoroughly, and then I skimmed the Princeton Review material for unfamiliar words and concepts, and I also used some Kaplan flashcards (Christmas present) but in general I found them way too detailed and a waste of time. I kept a list of terms I forgot or mixed-up and review it, and added terms that appeared on practice tests. There were quite a few terms I did not know on the real exam. Just had to put my best guess.

So that's a start! Feel free to ask me stuff!



  • Chicken_Little, NewDirection, canucks_14 and 16 others like this

#1043133 Admission Médecine 2017

Posted by HalfBaked on 24 April 2017 - 04:42 AM

Juger de la difficulté d'un programme c'est selon moi complètement obsolète dû à la subjectivité que ça demande. On a tous une vision biaisée selon nos forces et faiblesses de ce qui peut être difficile ou non. Je connaissais une fille qui trouvait les examens de type QCM HYPER dur, et pour moi c'est le paradis. Par contre, avec les CRU on parle d'IFG+d'écart-type donc de la difficulté qu'un étudiant aura à se démarquer des gens de son programme, et non de difficulté du programme en soi.


J'ai aussi envie de rajouter ma montée de lait au débat pour expliquer que je trouve que certains programmes ont cependant le désavantage d'avoir des stages notés en milieu clinique, qui pour plusieurs raisons rendent l'obtention d'une gpa compétitive vraiment plus difficile à mon avis. 

Mais je vais arrêter ici, parce que comme l'a dit Psy2017 ça sert à rien ce genre de réflexion. On est tous et toutes stressé(e)s et on peut passer des heures à essayer de comprendre pourquoi moi, pourquoi pas l'autre; pourquoi l'autre, pourquoi pas moi.


Et c'est compréhensible, c'est tellement frustrant appliquer en médecine, parce que quand tu te fais refuser ou mettre sur une liste d'attente, ça créée cette insécurité et ce doute de "est-ce que je suis assez bon(ne) pour être médecin?" Mais, il faut se rappeler:

1. Qu'il y a une composante chance peu importe comment tu essayes de recruter.
2. Qu'en fin de compte, le processus d'admission est imparfait et le sera toujours parce que c'est impossible de créer un algorithme parfait qui donne LA meilleure prédiction de qui sera un(e) bon(ne) médecin.

3. Qu'à chaque année d'excellent(e)s candidat(e)s sont refusé(e)s, et ce avant même les entrevues, dans n'importe quelle université.

4. Ça rajoute une expérience qui permet de construire notre résilience, notre persévérance et solidifier notre envie d'entrer en médecine. Les études qu'on fait en attendant de rentrer ne seront pas perdues, au contraire, elles finiront par influencer notre pratique, notre perception de la santé et ce qu'on considère comme étant des soins de qualité. 


Si ça peut aider, je me rappelle avoir lu un article d'une mère d'un étudiant en médecine. Elle racontait son expérience à une journée porte ouverte (pas au Québec, si je me rappelle bien c'était en Ontario). Bref, il y avait un professeur en médecine qui siégeait sur les comités d'admission avec qui elle discutait qui lui avait dit qu'il y a grosso-modo 3 sortes de candidats. Ceux qui sont exceptionnellement bons (des génies avec des accomplissements incroyables), ceux qui sont simplement inadéquats (genre une gpa de 2,1) et finalement la très très très grande majorité d'étudiants très bons (gpa compétitive, recherche, extracurriculars, clinical experience, good to outstanding mmi/casper scores). Dans le troisième groupe, pas mal tous les étudiants feraient des bons médecins et les départager devient si difficile que le médecin avait dit "that we accept the first hundred or the second hundred, that wouldn't change much".


Maintenant, c'est du ouï-dire certes, mais je pense que ça illustre bien quelque chose sur laquelle on peut pas mal tous s'entendre: un réfus en médecine n'illustre pas nécessairement ne pas avoir le potentiel d'être un bon médecin. L'essentiel, c'est d'avoir de l'autocritique et de voir les failles dans son dossier de candidature et essayer de s'améliorer sans perdre confiance en soi. 

Voilà, c'était mon 2 cents pas forcément pertinent mais j'espère aidera certaines personnes qui, comme moi, sont entrain de stresser en attente de réponse, de déprimer et/ou qui sont juste en légère crise existentielle. Je vous comprends et je pense que justement le but de ce forum c'est de s'aider, se supporter et se conseiller à travers ça. Donc, respirez profondément et comme Psy2017 l'a dit, ne laissez pas un processus administratif déterminer la valeur que vous vous accordez. Et si jamais quelqu'un a envie de parler, n'hésiter à m'envoyer un message, ça me fera plaisir qu'on partage nos inquiétudes/espoirs.

Bonne chance tout le monde!

  • jpbuss, Snowmen, ItsBeenReal and 16 others like this

#1012098 Why Aren't More Doctors Driving Ferraris?

Posted by Scorbix on 11 July 2016 - 03:42 AM

Perhaps it is because some people feel there are more to life than material possessions, or at least more than having an expensive car that really can't be driven all that much. If a physician really wants an expensive car, then they'll certainly buy one.
  • shikimate, Bambi, GH0ST and 16 others like this

#953358 Success Stories- Non Trad Style!

Posted by GH0ST on 27 June 2015 - 06:08 AM

So after kind of looking through these forums (especially the non-traditional section), I wanted to take some time to share my experiences. I admit it's not nearly as amazing as some of the other posts from previous non-traditional applicants but I hope to instill some hope for those that may be struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Overall, this online community is extremely supportive and I hope to make positive contributions in the future (among other things like learn from you all =D).


Some of you may not consider this story to bear much weight and I understand completely. I just hope that what I contribute in the future will. Thanks in advance for reading.


Undergraduate Years

I was pretty much the typical undergraduate student following the path of applying to medicine with my friends. It seemed like a good option, especially since I had amazing experiences with my dermatologist. I joke that my initial interest in medicine is written all over my face, since I had the most severe acne throughout my body that was awful to bear during grade school (kids are mean =/ ).


At the time I got involved in things I enjoyed, tried to keep my grades up like everyone else. It seemed relatively fine at first, until I hit a solid roadblock near fourth year undergrad. I struggled with depression, and the daunting task of applying to medicine with average grades and GPA scared me. Luckily, my ECs helped me get to the interview stage at the UofC and UofA during my first application cycle. At the time I felt decent, that despite my issues, I still got pretty far. Unfortunately, that only hid my weaknesses as a person, and the interview left me exposed. I struggled with handling the pressure, choking when it mattered. My inability to cope with my depression contributed to ruined relationships with my professors (did poorly during an honors project). I secluded myself despite putting on a happy face for everyone.


When I didn't get in, it became harder to even get out of bed as I felt like I was watching everyone else live their lives. I had no real plans during the summer and just felt myself wasting away. I let myself down and everyone that supported me along the way. I hurt a lot of relationships that I continue to regret. Throughout undergrad I continue to gain more weight and felt more miserable.


One day I asked myself when I looked at how overweight I became through this process if I wanted better than I am now. Once I decided to be better I started to do readings, working out etc.... It started with basic things like what is medicine etc.. but expanded as I attained more understanding. To learn more about what medicine involves on a daily basis I traveled to the US to shadow physicians and compare and contrast that to what it's like here. It was after that shadowing opportunity that I decided I wanted to try again, not thinking of dermatology, but just trying to get in and promoting health.


Graduate Education

As my plan B I applied to the MPH program in applied biostatistics here concurrently with medicine and ended up getting in. I figured that I wanted to gain more skills in statistical analysis in health related data, and I get to practice my hobby more (I like stats... I know ... lame =D). It was during those two years that I learned about how in depth health really was. Health went beyond clinical experience, but policy, advocacy, environmental health, health care economics, occupational medicine, waste management etc.... There was such a vast amount of exploration and I got to be involved in it all. I participated in numerous other projects in diverse fields and felt like I contributed worthwhile work. In the meantime, my understanding of health became more diverse. My perspective fields grew, and I could actually speak to more issues on multiple hierarchical levels competently.


Two years in... continued to practice public health, read more, interact with different health professionals... I spent time rebuilding my connections with people, particularly those who I've let down in the past. I felt that this year was the year. I became a better person, became smarter, more articulate, and actually appreciated medicine for more than just the doctor's office. I put in my UofC and UofA application again hoping that this was my time.....


Except it wasn't ......


This year relatively more difficult since the MCAT2015 was coming up and all other MCAT grades weren't accepted. In response, many people from all walks of life gave it their final try (especially those in the late 20s to 30s). The number of applicants grew greatly to be a ... far outlier (stats joke =D). Those that depended more on ECs (like me) struggled to stand out with these amazing applicants coming in. With below average grades, MCAT, and now ECs... I was rejected. I was shaking with frustration and can't even count how many times I teared up. It felt as if everything I've done... I went backwards... at least I got an interview the last time and I was an idiot relative to what I am now...


The Turning Point

That was until I got a call from the admissions office one week before the interview week at the UofA saying I got a second chance since one person cancelled. After getting over the initial shock (there's an interview waitlist???????????) I immediately took their offer and felt more rejuvenated than I've ever been. This was my second "second" chance... and I had no intention of fucking it up. I knew the odds were stacked against me however since to get off that list I must have been at the bottom. The UofA interviews were worth 30% so I also knew a majority of my application was decided. In order for me to move up that list to get in I had to crush the interview. My chances to get in were close to zero but at least it's better than nothing.


Fortunately I was practicing scenarios and getting used to the environment during the application cycle, so I wasn't going in completely fresh off the boat. I stopped practicing when I got my rejections cause... well it was pretty painful to work at it for something that wasn't going to happen... I had one week to pick up the pieces, revive my skills, and give it everything I got for these interviews.


I didn't go to classes, asked for time off (my professors were understanding, even now I thank them for it), and committed every single second to it. I prepared so much I forgot to eat for a day. I barely slept since even during my sleep I would think of possible scenarios and how I'd react. I wanted it so bad so that I can prove to myself that I have the capabilities to be a good doctor, and that I'm better than I was the first time I applied.


I can remember every single question, every interviewer, every room, every answer I gave etc... My mind was absolutely peaked in terms of focus and determination. I felt that this time ... I answered the questions well, and that there was nothing I couldn't do to explain the various perspectives and points of view. Sure I was nervous... who wouldn't be? Deep down... I wanted to prove to myself that I got better, regardless of whether or not I got in.


So to keep the waiting part short... I ended up getting in... against all odds, I was able to make a miracle come true.




The reason I wanted to share with this story is for you to understand that as long as you get an interview, you have a chance to get in. Just having one shot at your dreams is enough to make it happen. Keep on fighting for that glimmer of hope =D.


- G

  • Morinphen, RedLily, Future20/20 and 15 others like this

#1030542 Do Doctors Never Get Stressed

Posted by Birdy on 03 February 2017 - 01:39 AM

Hah, I'm really not bothered. That poster is hardly the first person to ascribe to bad parenting what is actually the result of disability. I've got pretty thick skin. My husband actually is home full time (which was always a goal for us) because that's what our son needs, and the needs of our kids are absolutely of utmost importance to us, obviously.

Pretty sure if I were a father instead of a mother, there wouldn't be the attempt to guilt me over having a career because I have a special needs kid who has periods where things are harder. Unless that poster thinks every parent ever should quit their job if they have kids with developmental disability-related behaviour issues. For anyone actually concerned, he's actually doing pretty well right now and is back in school full time.

Several PM101 members have actually met my kids including my son when he's been having a hard time and are well aware what a high priority I place on being involved with my children. I'm confident enough that I'm doing what's right for my family that the words of someone who clearly has no experience with special needs kids don't really bug me. :)
  • ploughboy, ellorie, Lifeisawesome and 15 others like this

#1007347 Success Stories- Non Trad Style!

Posted by johnmccrae on 03 June 2016 - 05:29 PM

I’ve been following this forum for over a year now and definitely been inspired by reading many of the “non-traditional” success stories that are in this thread. As I recently accepted an offer to McMaster, I wanted to take some time to share my own story with everyone. I apologize in advance for the length of it (this is actually the condensed version, I wrote a longer version for a blog post but it’s not finished yet).

I started becoming interested in health when I was pursuing an UG in biochemistry at uOttawa (graduated back in 2006). During the degree I took up the sport of triathlon and became a bit of a health geek. I also was fortunate to get quite a bit of research experience, including 16 months of co-op, so I decided to do a M.Sc. and moved out west to Vancouver. Ultimately the program was not for me, so I withdrew after about 6 months.

In what was a hasty decision at the time, I entered in the UBC MBA program in Fall 2007. I really had wanted to work in the health industry, but I was mostly focused on triathlon racing at the time and didn’t really put as much into the program as I could have. I completed the degree in December 2008 and decided to look for something completely different to do.

So, in early 2009 I joined the Canadian Forces as an Artillery Officer (how I ended up in that particular job is a long story). I spent a year in Gagetown, NB (near Fredericton) on training and then was posted to Petawawa (west of Ottawa) in 2010. Around the same time I met my wife, and we were married in December 2011.

Army life had its challenges, but I did some really cool training! I called in hundreds of rounds of live artillery and spent many months commanding an armoured vehicle in simulated combat. I had prepared to deploy overseas but it never happened.

By mid-2013, we had our first baby. I was exhausted with the work tempo and wanted to spend more time with my daughter, so I left the full-time military and transferred into the Reserves. I spent the next year as a stay-at-home dad while working some part-time jobs: running my own coaching business part-time, teaching at a local college, and random army work.

It was during this time that I realized that I wanted to get into medicine. I met some fantastic family docs and OB/GYNs during my wife’s pregnancies that encouraged/inspired me, as well as several UG colleagues that were now practicing physicians. I decided to get back into the books and study for the MCAT. I also ended up taking a full-time army contract (in a desk job) for some financial stability as I knew applying to medical school wasn’t going to be cheap!

I applied for the first time this cycle and was extremely excited to accept an offer for McMaster. Looking forward to starting this fall as a 34 year old father of 1 and 3 year old girls!!
  • Morinphen, RedLily, GH0ST and 15 others like this