Wednesday, 21 December 2011

New Writers Join the Wanna B MD Team!

 
As Danielle is currently immersed in bigger and better things I’ve hoodwinked two additional writers into contributing to the blog! Interview related posts will be published in the New Year; so apologies to prospective Dalhousie students who had their interviews in... November! Did Dalhousie switch to Newfoundland time?

In the meantime say hello to one of two new writers, MD^2.

Ciao,
Jeff

Introductions "Squared"


Hey readers, 
This is my get-to-know-me post full of random and not-so-random facts. I’m happy to join the wanna be md blog team. For your convenience, I will use bullet points in no particular order.

·   The initials of my first and last name are and have always been M.D. People said it was a sign. If I graduate from medical school as I’m supposed to in approximately 2.5 years, I will be MD MD. Or MD^2.

·   When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a clown. Maybe I will be like Patch Adams?

·   My educational background is a twisted maze. I was determined to be a doctor from 2001 to 2007 through high school and my first bachelors in health sciences. When I failed to get accepted (or even interviewed!) in 2007, I sulked, unemployed and depressed, for an entire summer before sucking it up and getting a job and becoming a useful member of society. I started taking creative writing classes and went on to get another bachelors and then a Masters in the subject. I was lucky enough to be accepted to a med school that encourages diversity and inter disciplinary work. I was worried that I wouldn’t fit in because of my arts background, but my school really fosters and supports the creative side.

·   Now I’m in first year and I like talking to standardized patients and real patients whenever I get the chance. And learning about rheumatism and colonoscopies and other exciting things. Sadly, I still do not enjoy exams and would rather write a twenty page essay than a three hour exam.

·  I took this online questionnaire (http://www.med-ed.virginia.edu/specialties/) and it said my top choice of residency would be Dermatology. Before med school started I took it and it said Plastic Surgery. Try it out and see for yourself.

·   In my spare time, I like to write stories and poems. I am currently going through a very earnest Jane Eyre phase.

·   The best part of the whole process of getting into med school was the interview. Because even though it was scary and I got the vertigo, having an eight minute venue to expound upon your views of the world is just fun! Plus meeting all the new people and the excitement of meeting your potential school – it’s a blast!  
xoxo
MD

Friday, 14 October 2011

Dear Readers,

...Yes we are assuming we have more than one avid follower!

Apologies for the lengthy time between posts, but it has been a very hectic September. I was busy wrapping up my master’s degree, and Danielle has been pre-occupied with her medical studies and doing “Danielle-like things.”

Unfortunately for the blog, Danielle has taken on a very important academic position within her school which has, effective immediately, prevented her from contributing to the blog. I wish her the best of luck in her future endeavours. In the near future, Danielle and I will be looking for a replacement blogger/contributor; stay tuned for more information.

Despite this setback, I still wanted to publish at least one post before many of you send in your applications to medical school. I apologize to those who have already sent in their application, as it was my intention to post weeks ago; unfortunately other pressing needs in our life kept myself (and Danielle) busy. Should your application not be successful this year, make sure you refer back to this post before applying again in the future.

The application experience is not one that anyone should enjoy, unless you are a masochist and/or love yourself so much that you readily enjoy sharing all there is to know about you with strangers. In the column to the right is my Top 15 (...that’s five more than you David Letterman!) details applicants should (or should not) consider during their medical school application.

Don’t simply dismiss the goofy pointers, even they have merit. I hope you find some of these points helpful in your quest for MD domination.

Jeff’s Top 15 Details Applicants Should (Or Should Not) Consider During Their Medical School Application

 
15) Before you even think of applying make sure that you have the ability to be a contender. Make sure you meet the school’s minimum cut offs (at least), and research what the competitive averages for interview and admissions have been previously. If you are far away from those then the chances of you being that “special case” is pretty low (and your mom’s opinion doesn’t count). If you have the money and time to waste then be my guest.


14) Another important thing to check is that you have the correct pre-reqs and that your school’s versions of those pre-reqs transfers over correctly. You do not want to screw yourself before you even begin.


13) Before the interview, the application is your chance to showcase your intelligence before the interview. Are you a Chess Club Champion because you spent your grade school recesses inside a classroom in search of chess supremacy? Intelligence trumps social skills, and you have intellectual superiority – highlight this!
   

12) While travelling in New York for a Chess Club competition did you become victim to a New York City mugging? New York muggings toughen people up. Medicine needs tough, and you’re tough and smart. Bonus!
   
11) Were you the mugger?


…OK back to serious: (but only briefly)
   
10) If an essay or a personal statement is required, give yourself a lot of time to write it and have others edit it. Sometimes what you think sounds good is not always true. A third set of eyes, just to check grammar and spelingg can go a long way. You passed grade 3, so your application should demonstrate that.


9) In your essay or personal statement, always write about your dream for world peace. With your application, include a copy of any Nobel winning dissertations you have written.
…You have written Nobel recognized pieces of literature have you not?


8) Faculty and staff appreciate students who enter their transcript information incorrectly/incompletely – carpal tunnel syndrome is the new high.
   

7) Evaluate your extracurricular activities: understand the importance/significance of your accomplishments. If an activity or award tells the reader something about you that is valuable and not already expressed in 5 other activities, you should add it. The things that can make an activity worthwhile are: 1) proximity (was this 15 years ago); 2) does it add value/depth; and 3) do you have someone to corroborate that you did this because if not then you cannot include it.
   

6) I have found that one of the best places to get a good description of a job or volunteer activity that you have been involved in is the actual job/volunteer description that was supplied to you in the first place. These descriptions are written in really concise ways that do a good job of summarizing what you have been doing. I am not suggesting that you copy them word for word, but that you utilize some of the words that they have used. (Never brush off resources and expertise around you.)
   

5) Be humble, but don’t make light of your achievements: if you actually did something big make sure you make this clear. If you worked in a lab and wrote 6 published papers do not just write, “I worked in a lab for the summer doing experiments.”  Understand that if it comes down to two similar people and you undercut yourself they will choose the person who appears better to them.
   

4) Again, be humble, but don’t make light of your achievements: your Scout’s Sewing Badge is impressive! Write about it!


3) Take time to choose your references. Every school has different specifications so make sure you read those over and choose your references for each school. Using the same 2 or 3 for every school is probably not going to be sufficient.  Another tip for your references is to give each one a little summary email so they know what they need to do for each school as well as the deadlines. Could you imagine how sad you would be if your application was incomplete due to a missing reference. Good examples of references may include: your mother; your pet dog/cat; or your parole officer.
   

2) Casually mention how you find the dean of admissions attractive. Grrrrr!
   

1) Nothing is crappier than getting rejected. But it’s not the end of the world if you’re not admitted after your first application; in fact only 20-25% of applicants will ever be admitted in the end. (Write to your local MLA and Minister of Health if that makes you angry.) On the chance that you are not admitted this year I suggest you beef up that resume! Join a chess club, get your mom to write you a special reference letter, and send the dean of admissions a secret Valentine! ;)
   

You’ll get there eventually champ!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

1. To Prereq, or not to Prereq... To Prereq!

This week’s post is an argumentative debate between Danielle and Jeff on the prerequisite course requirements imposed by medical schools on prospective students, i.e. “the prerequisites.”  Danielle is arguing for them and Jeff is arguing against them (despite what the truth and our opinions may actually be). 

O chem, G chem, B chem, Bio, Calc, Psych, and Phys. If you know what I am talking about then you probably, like me, have quite a strong feeling about these classes. I took them all for 1 reason… because I love science…haha let’s not kid ourselves…I took them because I knew med schools wanted me to. If they told me to take the history of ancient Chinese pottery I would have jumped on that bandwagon guns a blazin’.  When I started university I was pretty dumb, to tell you the truth, I listened to what other people and med websites told me to take. Now after taking all these courses I am quite glad I did. I took every possible pre-req so that I could apply to any medical school in Canada if I wanted to, which I never did but that’s another story.  

I am slightly against required pre-reqs but seeing as I am the keen one and did them all I was much more prepared for this side of the argument over Jeff who only took the minimum. So here it goes.  

The main advantage for going to the trouble of taking all these courses is that it truly does allow you to cover all your bases or cover your ass. You can choose to be a med rebel and take your own idea of what courses it takes to be a good med student. I wish you luck and hope that you know better than almost every medical school in Canada and the States’ dean. There are only 2 schools in Canada that do not have any form of pre-reqs and if you feel like you are ready to only apply to 2 schools of 17 then be my guest. When it came to medicine, I was going to do everything in my power to give me the utmost advantage.  

The main reason they want these courses is so you can demonstrate that you can survive hell and learn from it and blah blah blah.  It is not a nice time to take all these courses in your first few years and I do honestly think that they want to make sure you are strong enough. They want you to demonstrate that you can run some 5km runs before you attempt their ultra-marathon. They want to see that you can do well in these basic components before they give you a stethoscope and ask you to actually interact with patients.  

What I do hope you take from our post is that there really are options for you. Do not feel strangled by the pre-reqs and do not feel like you are at a disadvantage if you just have a normal biosci degree either. Med school is really just looking for your journey. Most schools have standardized your journey into a series of tiny pre-req steps but you need to know that it is just one pathway. You can hop a plane and take a trip over the steps or you can take a slightly different path. All that matters in my mind is that you have taken a journey and can show them that.


- Danielle

2. To Prereq, or not to Prereq... Not!

This week’s post is an argumentative debate between Danielle and Jeff on the prerequisite course requirements imposed by medical schools on prospective students, i.e. “the pre-reqs.”  Danielle is arguing for them and Jeff is arguing against them (despite what the truth and our opinions may actually be).

Now, when I started university I thought Danielle was pretty dumb as well – considering she still listens to what I have to say, not much has changed! Having said that, Danielle will soon learn that there is nothing useful gained by medical schools or society (including our patients) by forcing future physicians to take the current prerequisite courses before admission into med school. 

Falsity #1 – it’s the specific course content.
These courses provide no specific knowledge for success in med school or as a future physician. Most students begin to forget course content within days of writing a final exam, with retention continually declining for years. Furthermore, if knowledge retention from these courses correlated with medical school success, one would expect those students who enter medical school after two years of a Baccalaureate year would do better than those who enter after completion of a degree. However, the amount of education one receives before entering medical school has no effect on med school success – In other words students with four or more years of university before med school do just as well as students with only two years; despite the fact that the pre-reqs are taken during the first year or two of university. 

Falsity #2 – it’s the learning process.
Ever wonder why you went through twelve years of grade school? …Only to be fed useless information on dinosaurs, space, Greek mythology, and integral and differential calculus? Well, one of the many reasons was to prepare you for the next level.  Elementary for junior high, high school for university, and so on. To make my point, the “learning how to learn” processes gained from the pre-reqs are not exclusive to these courses alone. Do you honestly think a full year of biochemistry gives prospective students the learning experience, obtainable nowhere else, by preparing them to be better learners, educators, advocators, scholars and caregivers?

Falsity #3 – it’s the amount of material.
Danielle seems to think that the prerequisites prepare for you for the difficult learning curve you will face in medical school…. BUUUUULL...Shoot!  The only hell I remember in my undergrad were the arts courses I was forced to take. If med schools wanted their freshman-virgin students to be prepared for a hellish course load they would make an engineering degree a prerequisite. Engineers are the Oompa Loompas of science!

You want a useful prerequisite? Get a business degree.  …I don’t have one by the way.

- Jeff

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Introduction to Extracurriculars - Workin' for Free, by Danielle

So you’ve got the GPA, the MCAT and the reference letters and you think you are ready to apply to medical school? This is like having unprotected sex, you’re missing something very important. There is one more step and this hoop is not as simple as just studying for a summer for a test. This step involves years of loyalty and commitment. Most medical schools now require their students to demonstrate “non-academic criteria” and each school has their own little special way of describing it. Dalhousie calls it “any outstanding achievement or breadth in terms of life experience is given consideration.” Toronto says “the admissions process identifies the best possible candidates for medical school through assessing each applicant's overall achievements, including those in academic and non-academic areas. It is understood that academic excellence is necessary, but not sufficient, to ensure success as a physician.” And UBC describes it the best by saying “motivation, social concern and responsibility, creativity, scientific and intellectual curiosity, attitude toward continuing learning, maturity, integrity, and realistic self-appraisal, are just a few examples of important non-academic qualities.”

You get the point; extracurriculars, volunteer work and employment are necessary and Jeff will address how you can choose them but I want to tell you how they can actually help your application. Here is a little secret; everyone who applies to medical school is smart, has a good enough GPA, did well on the MCAT and has met some people that will write a letter for them. So then how can you differentiate yourself from all those losers? You can have kick ass EC’s, volunteering and employment!

I hope you are still reading and are not hiding in your basement fearing rejection because you did not cure AIDS, or build a school for children in Cambodia. I am going to tell you another little secret; it is not necessarily what your activities are but how you present them on your application. I am not telling you to lie but I am telling you to take a closer look at those seemingly insignificant activities and reconsider what they have done for you. Use who you are and what you have done to your advantage. Talk about that soccer coaching that you did for your little sister, or that lame karate that you taught for a long time (no offense to actual practitioners of this well respected craft, just Jeff). 

Ok so you are a little bit of a loner and do not have too many activities at this point. It is not the end of the world you can still jump on the activity bandwagon, and for the love of God do not volunteer at the hospital because that is what all the cool kids are doing. Pick something that you actually enjoy because the admissions committees will see your transparency. When you do pick something stick to it and expand upon it. The admissions committees will want to see commitment and reliability.

To sum up what I have said here and what medical schools want is that they want a human that is the spawn of a genetics experiment where Albert Einstein and Mother Theresa had a baby and then that baby married Neil Armstrong and they had a kid and now that child is ok enough to be a doctor. When medical school applications seem overwhelming, like it sure does a lot of the time; break it into tiny pieces and tackle one at a time. There are worse things in life to get into, so there is no need to cry yourself to sleep at night.

- Danielle

Introduction to Extracurriculars - Just for the Fun of It, by Jeff

Believe it or not I am going to keep this post shorter than Danielle’s (for once), while feeding your prepubescent premed mind with the fundamental information it needs. In the meantime, think of this post like a box of All-Bran Buds cereal – the initial taste in your mouth will be something similar to horse-feed; but after several hours of digestion, your bowels (and mind) will thank you.

Now, if you take anything from this post, in addition to the importance of dietary fiber, remember this: Do what you enjoy, and enjoy what you do. It’s that simple.

There is no secret to achieving a high score on the “non-academic” or “activities” section of your medical school application. Contrary to what Danielle says, not everyone who applies to medical school is smart, has an adequate GPA and does well on the MCAT. How do I know this? I’m one of those individuals. While I’d like to think I’m “smart,” my GPA and MCAT suggest otherwise. But what I do have is an extracurricular resume that is fourth to curing cancer… but not third or second to. Finding the cure for cancer and AIDS, along with instituting world peace, probably dominate the forefront of extracurricular supremacy.

In short, pursuing interests outside of work (and school) act as outlets which aid in continued healthy mental and physical development. This fosters fresh perspectives throughout your schooling and career, resulting in an enthusiastic work environment. As such, when it comes to choosing what to do with your spare time; pursue your interests, seek out new endeavours, and do whatever stokes that fire breathing within. After that, success is …almost… a cakewalk.

Having said that, I am not going to tell you what you should specifically do for extracurriculars; because as Peter Griffin once said: “What might be right for you may not be right for some. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have…” all that I have to say!

- Jeff

Thursday, 21 July 2011

How to Study for the MCAT...

...Step 1: Don't be like Jeff.

I always tell people that ask me “What do I  need to do to get into medical school”,  that you just need to jump through a few hoops. Some of those hoops are big and easy to jump through but some of those are tiny, flaming and covered in Chlamydia. The MCAT, in most people’s minds, is more of the latter. I taught an MCAT prep course for 3 years and through my own writing of the test and teaching others I have come across a lot of advice. A lot of it is crap but I will give you what I think works. 

Studying for the MCAT kind of runs like a bad drug commercial with 1 benefit and 57 side effects including things like anal leakage or a decrease in the size of your testes . The most important side effect happens to be favourable; the fact that it is required for almost every medical school in Canada and the US and if you do well you are one more hoop closer to getting into medical school.  
Now let’s talk about the unfavourable ones:
  1. Let’s start with when you should take the test. Regardless of when this ‘MCAT drug’ is taken it will take away your summer. I recommend taking it after your second year so that all that organic chemistry you just took can go to use before it is drank away.
  2. Any relationships you have or are trying to have will probably cease to exist as you start to look less like yourself and more like your Exam crackers 1001 verbal passages book.
  3. Any job you have, you will probably wish you didn’t have. A few weeks into studying or after you take a diagnostic and realize you can’t critically think about verbal (Jeff for example who for the life of him can’t pull off anything above a 7) all you will want to do is study.
  4. I do recommend taking a prep course (any one really) if you have problems with the idea of ‘individual study time’. These classes not only offer  teachers who are highly attractive, witty, and wonderful people…sorry I am talking about the other instructors … but they also offer a lot of strategy which cannot be taught through a book. The side effect of these classes is that the people in them will become more like your family and the memory of your own family will begin to die away.
  5. All of the studying that you are doing is useless if you don’t actually practice any full length MCATS. Writing full tests is really the best way to improve. I have seen too many students focus strictly on content, forgetting that it is only 1/3 of the actual test. Your familiarity with the tests after all this practicing will be so bad that you see those review screens in your head when you go to bed at night.
In all honesty though and seriously for once, it is not the worst thing in the world to have to write the test. Just write it  get it over with and do well because having to be like Jeff and write it again sucks a whole lot more then just doing it well once.

...Step 2: Be like me,
Danielle

Why Medical Schools use the MCAT...

...and how is medicine like hardcore pornography?

Another exam! …Don’t like it? I heard McDonalds is hiring.

The academic world is full of exams, and the MCAT is the first of many exams throughout one’s medical training.  Furthermore, (written) tests such as the MCAT are very objective measure; and therefore, we assume they are a fair way to assess applicants.

Like any test – if you do well, you wish medical schools placed greater weight on your MCAT scores; and if you did not do so well, you think… what the hell do I.C.E. tables and a short story on abstract art have to do with real-world medical practice anyway?

The jury is in:
You don’t have to look very far on PubMed for publications praising the predictive value of the MCAT. Without going into too much detail, your MCAT score is a predictor of your performance throughout medical school, both in Canada and the US1,2.

Well this is simple right? High MCAT score equates to a successful medical career, and vice versa. Wrong!

To paraphrase one study2:
  • The writing sample and physical sciences sections carry no predictive value of med school performance.
  • Biological sciences and verbal reasoning scores positively correlate with MCCE part 1 scores.
  • Only verbal reasoning scores positively correlate with MCCE part 2 scores.
(The Medical Council of Canada Exams (MCCE) parts 1 and 2 are taken after completion of a medical degree; part 1 tests declarative knowledge & part 2 tests clinical reasoning.)
Now you know why many schools not only use the MCAT; but why many only look at verbal reasoning or verbal reasoning and biological sciences.

However, if you look at the actual numbers in this study2, the positive correlation and regression coefficients (albeit significant), describing the relationship between verbal reasoning and the MCCE parts 1 or 2 test scores, are not very convincing. Thus, the explained variance is not very satisfying either.

…But what do I know? I’m still wondering why I had to learn I.C.E. tables and answer questions on a short story about abstract art…

If divers are finding fish in sunken shipwrecks, does that mean fish are sinking ships?
As I indicated above, a high MCAT score does not necessarily mean you will be a good doctor (and vice versa). Clearly there are other factors which can be attributed to one’s success. For starters, the MCAT does not measure diligence, motivation and communication skills1.

Wait. Let’s back up here…
…What is a “good doctor?”
…Are the top academic medical students usually successful doctors?
…Are the bottom medical students less successful doctors?
…What are the cause and effect relationships between the MCAT, GPA, diverse extracurriculars and achievements throughout medical school and a medical career?

Herein lies the problem; what is a good or successful physician? I think the US Supreme Court answered this best when taking a stance on pornography: we know it when we see it, but any definition lacks concise parameters and is too subjective.

Long story short, the MCAT is a reputable achievement and aptitude test; albeit, it’s far from the end all to be all.  So, while we’re left with an imperfect system, I’m glad it’s an ever evolving system.

Chao,
Jeff

1. Prideaux D, Roberts C, Eva K, et al. Assessment for selection for the health care professions and specialty training: Consensus statement and recommendations from the Ottawa 2010 Conference. Medical Teacher, 2011, 33:215-23.
2. Donnon T, and Violato C. Does the Medical College Admission Test predict clinical reasoning skills? A longitudinal study employing the Medical Council of Canada clinical reasoning examination. Academic Medicine 2005, 80(10):S14-6.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

It's A Snowy Hell...

Whether we like to think so or not we judge each other. We judge each other on looks, successes and failures. We all pretend we don’t but deep down we are a competitive people and we all need to think of ourselves at some point. I am of course talking about any student who wants into medicine. One of the key points we all look at (don’t even lie to yourself because everyone does it) is what university someone went to. It seems like one of the most important decisions you will make; but I really don’t even think it matters.

I chose the University of Alberta; I tell everyone that I chose it because it’s an established school with an honours science program with lots of research opportunities. But really I just didn’t want to live with my mom and sister anymore and I wanted to go where my friends were. My mom restricted me to Alberta, this left me with few choices… So off I moved north into the snowy hell which is Edmonton. Fortunately it worked out alright for me. I had a few rough years while adjusting to class sizes of 1 trillion with profs that speak 17 words of English; but I came out of the school with great respect.

Would I have done it differently if I could? Why yes of course, but that holds true for most of my undergrad decisions. Firstly, many schools in Canada only count your cumulative GPA and do not take into account whether you had “hard courses” at a “tough marking” school with a “mean prof”. The will look at numbers and you can get numbers at any school in Canada. Secondly, if you want to expand your chances at getting into med it is always a good idea to have two provinces that consider you “in province”. I would recommend going to a province other then your own for school (not Ontario because that place is littered with med school wanna-b’s). A word of caution though, be careful what their requirements for residency are so that you don’t re-screw yourself. Alberta is a nice option to move to if you are not from here because you will be adding two medical schools that you are in-province for. Thirdly, pick somewhere where you can let yourself have a good time, because most schools now are not just counting grades, extracurricular and volunteer are becoming increasingly important.

So, the moral of my story- do not be tricked by fancy institutions and pretty buildings. Pick somewhere where you can do well and not kill yourself in the process.

- Danielle

...So Get Out While You Can!

Entering university after high school was a no-brainer as I have always had an affinity for school and learning. Committing to a full-time “job” has always seemed too stagnant, repetitious and boring to me. On the other hand, I realize this is an overly presumptuous attitude; but the reality is that I’m probably more afraid of growing up. Case in point – the day that I, or my liver, can no longer complete a “centurion” scares the hell out of me! (Huh! It looks like my library-hermit persona and deep knowledge of organ-transplantation will be useful after all.) 

I was born and raised in Edmonton, so attending the University of Alberta was a convenient and sensible option:
  • it’s close to established friends and family;
  • reasonably low cost of living in Edmonton (especially because I continued to live at home);
  • close to my established extracurriculars (skiing, hiking, mountain biking, karate, soccer etc.); and,
  • the Immunology and Infection (IMIN) program at the University of Alberta was of great interest to me before I entered University, and it continued to be throughout the course of the program. 

Having said that, stop sucking the proverbial teet like I have, and get out! GO AWAY! LEAVE HOME! Spread your wings from mommy and daddy and take flight! 

You should move for your undergraduate years for two reasons:
  1. for the experience; and,
  2. moving to another province will theoretically make you a more competitive candidate.

If you remember one thing from today, ignore Danielle’s post :) and remember this: “In business as in life – you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.” (Dr. Chester Karrass.) With that in mind, getting into med school is a bit of a “game.”

I’m not saying you should do whatever it takes to gain an advantage; such motivations are counteractive and probably suggest you’re not the right fit to take on the “doctor roles” anyway. But what I am saying is that within your daily and life-long passions, if you can get a leg up, all the better.

Living in a different place would naturally force one to experience different outlets and learn from different peers, mentors and cultures. The point is, not only will a vast array of life-experiences aid your applications, but they will actually make you a better physician in the end. And in the meantime, assuming you moved to a different province …not just across the street (unless you live in Lloydminster)… you should get residency status in a second province. BONUS!

(I’ll second Danielle’s thoughts – now would be a goodtime to verify with each school on what their requirements are to be considered an in-province applicant.)

As Danielle also indicates, med schools can’t objectively assess the difficulty of the courses you took and the communication skills (or lack thereof) of your first year professors and TAs, among other dynamic variables. Maybe it’s unfortunate, but it’s also damn impossible! In light of that, do yourself a favour and set yourself up in courses or a program where you will most likely succeed in. That means:
  1. study a subject you enjoy;
  2. study with friends; and,
  3. don’t enroll in Psychology. Psychology is boring. The fact is, the only easy A out there is the A you receive in a course you enjoy studying for.

Last, for all intents and purposes, all Canadian universities are equal - sorry U of T. Although, I would be wary about colleges and newly accredited “universities.” Historically, course grades from these institutions may not have received the same subjective review on a med school application as a well-established university would have. I’m not poo-pooing these places, just double and triple check to see how your academic score (GPA/prereqs.) will be assessed; because I don’t know the answer to this. In fact, it would be a good idea to look into this no matter what university you enter and med school(s) you end up applying to.

- Jeff

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

What is this all about?

I assume that since you made it to this site that you have some amount of desire to be an MD. Congratulations for making it here because I have the 20/20 hindsite that you can benefit from. Whether you are in high school, university or past all that and still struggling I can help you. This is not the kind of site where you will get hugs and peer support nor is it the site where you have to doubt the sincerity. This is the place where you can get the down and dirty truth. It may not be pretty but you’ve got to realise that sometime and now is better then later. I will go through all of our trials and tribulations in a true Jekyl and Hyde manner so as to inform and entertain at the same time.


Who the hell am I?

Sex: XX
Age: 24
Degree: University of Alberta BSc in Immunology and Infection
Hometown: Calgary
Interests: Travel, hockey, music, snowboarding.


Why should you listen to me?

Well, over the years I have probably read every website about medical school in Canada, asked every question that could be asked of friends in med, read every how to book from Amazon and read every blog and website that I could find. I feel that now, after four years of applications mind you, I have fine tuned and perfected my knowledge of what it takes to get into medical school in Canada and have succeeded! The perfect person to teach you how to do something is someone who has done it before. A lot of people claim to know how to do something but until they themselves have been through all the nooks and crannies of the process in my mind they have no credibility. Unfortunately for me and maybe fortunately for you, the process of learning how to do this has made me cynical, sarcastic and somewhat angry making my writing quite interesting.


My Promise to you

Absolutly no BS.

- Danielle

What is this all about - the dark side of the moon!

I could tell you lots of humbling things about myself; but only one thing is for certain – I’m a failure. This past year was my third year applying to medical school, and despite being wait-listed I was too far down on the list to be accepted. In the face of all clich├ęs, the third time isn’t a charm. Luckily, Barney Stinson and I have a similar attitude on life; when I get sad, I stop being sad and be awesome!

I completed a B.Sc. in Immunology and Infection at the University of Alberta. This is where I met Danielle, who was also in the same immunology program; as such, we quickly entered a state of competition with each other for the higher grades. Sadly, what seems like a marginal defeat on my behalf was actually a full-blown ass-kicking. I probably spent at least double the time studying in the library than Danielle did. Luckily, I’ve been told it’s the paths we take and our experiences which define who we are, not the end result. As a result, I am now left wondering if all this means I am some sort of library-hermit?

After graduation, I started graduate studies in the Department of Medicine (at the University of Alberta), studying the stereotyped molecular phenotypes of inflammation and the immunological mechanisms of organ transplant rejection. …Wow, I am a library-hermit! I think I just reached self-actualization on Maslow’s hierarchy.

Later this summer I should graduate with a M.Sc.; but I am undecided on what my plans will be for the next year. Of course I will be applying to Canadian medical school again. I figure at the very least one school will accept me 20 years from now – by then the admission’s committees should be tired of reviewing my application year after year and sending me annual rejection letters.

Despite what I have led you to believe this far, I have an awesome life outside school. Most notably, I have been studying karate for about 18 years now (which means Chuck Norris is the only man I fear). Apart from my own training I’m actively involved in teaching and I also sit on my organization’s executive as Vice-President.

I thoroughly enjoy the outdoors; skiing in the winter and backpacking in the summer. Over the past few years my best friend Matt and I have hiked well over 700 km of multi-day hikes around Jasper, Vancouver Island and South America.

However, that’s all I’m going to reveal about myself for now. As this blog progresses, I hope that I am able to provide valuable insight towards the considerations one should contemplate before deciding to pursue medicine, and of course the application process itself. Although I am not in medicine yet, three rounds (soon to be four) of applications have provided me with more experience than most applicants. …Besides, coming from someone who has yet to succeed, if any of the insight I provide in this blog helps you, I must be one legendary person.


Ciao,
Jeff