Tuesday, 12 July 2011

...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

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