Archive | May, 2009

I will be getting my Bsc and graduating!

I have a fantastic science academic advisor / counselor who has helped me a ton since I started the biomedical sciences program at York. Pretty much every time I was paranoid and had a question about something, she was always there for help, support, and advice. You honestly can’t do anything on your own, and if you really think you can, I think you’re underestimating the support you’re probably getting from the people around you.

When I told her I got accepted into medical school, she suggested that I might be able to still get a 3-year bachelors degree. I am currently in a 4-year biology program, and while I don’t have enough biology credits for a 3-year biology degree, I had heard before that getting a 3-year general science degree might be possible if I got in this year, though I really didn’t expect anything. Anyways, she told me last week that she’d get my academic record checked to see what would be possible, and I got this awesome email today:

Hi Joshua,

We’ve taken a look and you are eligible for the BSc (no major)…

So that’s cool. I wanted to be a York alumni, so that’s great. Also, I had the option of possibly getting into this year’s convocation, but I decided that I’d rather do it next year with all of my friends. My name won’t be in the booklet if I do that, but I don’t really care about that!

What’s the deal with cumulative exams?

Continue Reading →

Medical School Admissions: How important are non-academic components really?


After reading Medaholic’s great post on why grades are the most important component of the medical school admissions process, it got me thinking about how important the non-GPA/MCAT components actually are. And the more I think about it, the more it seems like they are significantly less important than most people realize.

Now, let me make sure there’s no confusion by saying that I do think things like extra-curricular activities, community involvement, travel experiences, hobbies, etc. all have a huge amount of value. But I think their value lies much more in how they help you personally develop and grow, and not so much in really affecting your chances at getting into medical school to the degree that your GPA and MCAT scores do.

And yet it seems to me that a lot of students see to have the perception that you need to have a resume that is a mile long in order to have a shot at getting into medical school. Because of this, some students take on way too much and completely exhaust themselves day in and day out. Not only do I think this is bad for the student’s mental and physical health (and that doing something solely for the sake of applying to medical school is something you will probably regret), but in terms of the medical school admissions process, it’s really unnecessary. And worse, some students take on so many non-academic activities that it seriously hurts their academic performance, without realizing that GPA is always the first step in the medical school door.

Granted, I can’t speak for all medical schools, since there are 17 in Canada and I only know about the Ontario ones. So while I don’t want to make any generalized claims, what I will do is analyze four of the medical schools in Ontario whose admissions process I do know a decent bit about, and the role non-academic components actually play. And from there, you can come to your own conclusions (though it’s pretty obvious what I think).

McMaster University

Continue Reading →

Acceptance Day – The Whole Story


Cliff notes for those who just want the raw results: I was accepted to the University of Toronto and McMaster University, and was waitlisted at Queen’s University.

As you all already know, I got into medical school on Friday! Unfortunately, I was out almost the entire day so I didn’t get the time to write much in depth. So for those of you interested, I wanted to give a little rundown on how the whole day went.

The night before, I had stayed up till about 2 am before finally just giving up and going to bed. Originally, I figured I would be full of anxiety and would end up staying up all night long – but I wasn’t as nervous was I thought I would be. In all honesty, I didn’t really feel that anxious until I woke up yesterday morning around 6 a.m.

Medical school offers are one of those things that take a really long time. The admissions process itself starts way back in September, and if you’re fortunate enough to be offered an interview, you don’t find out your status until mid-May. And if you consider that many people begin thinking about and preparing for medical school years in advance of that, and some times you end up applying multiple times, the journey can be quite long and strenuous.

I can’t really remember what I was thinking at 6 a.m. But I remember getting out of bed, and checking my email just for the heck of it. I had left my laptop on overnight with my email open so I could check right away in the morning. Of course, I didn’t expect to see anything at that time. Everything I had read and heard pointed to the emails coming no earlier than 8:45am or so. And just as expected, there was nothing there yet. So I proceeded to try and go back to sleep, planning to just wake up at 8:00am and check again. But I ended up twisting and turning in bed, genuinely nervous for the first time about this. To be honest, I was actually more nervous the hours before I got my MCAT score back – the thought of having to study for that beast of a test again is the most scary thing ever in my opinion.

In any case, around 6:45am I still couldn’t sleep, so I decided to go surf the web for a bit. Like I said, my email had been open since the night before, and I had to collect myself for a bit. And staring back at me, in bold font against a white background like any new message in Gmail, were the words:

University of Toronto – Congratulations

Continue Reading →

So… I’m going to be a doctor!

So I was rolling around in bed at 6:45am, and decided to check my email just for the heck of it….

May 15, 2009

Dear Joshua,


On behalf of the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine, I am delighted to extend to you an offer of admission into the first year of the Doctor of Medicine Program in 2009-10.

An offer package, including your official offer of admission, will be arriving through regular mail shortly.

Didn’t get any other emails yet (since it’s so early and I don’t think anyone was expecting something at this time), but at this point, everything else is gravy as UofT (at least at this point) is my top choice.

Thanks again to everyone for their support! Will be back later tonight or tomorrow to post all the details from the day, how I’m feeling, etc.

Less than 24 hours to go…


So I find out whether I get into medical school tomorrow. To be fair, unless I’m outright rejected, I could still get in sometime this summer off the wait list, though the longer it goes into the summer, the less likely I’ll probably get in.

I’m actually not feeling anything right now. Anxiety, nervous, excitement, etc. there really isn’t much going on inside. There’s a little bit of course, but my heart is not racing and I’m not spending the entire day thinking about it or anything.

I actually think I felt more nervous the days leading up to when interview invites were coming out. Maybe that’s because I could still control my chances then, and now I really can’t do anything but wait. Before, I thought I was going to be really anxious tonight and stay up the whole night wasting time because I couldn’t sleep, but now it looks like I’ll just go to sleep after all.

While emails will go out tomorrow morning, there’s no set time. I think most schools send out acceptances around 9-10am, and rejections/waitlists soon after, but there is still a lot of variability in terms of time within there. I think the latest I’ll leave for school is 9am, as I still have class at 9:30am, so it’s going to be funny if I suddenly get all my emails at once right when I check at school. I would actually prefer to get all my emails at once, so that I only have to experience disappointment once, or any disappointment might get offset by good news.

In any case, going to spend the rest of the day celebrating and having fun (though I’m not really sure what I’ll be celebrating if I get rejected everywhere=P). After class, my friends and I plan on getting some drinks, and then heading over to see the new Star Trek movie. Trailer for that looks pretty sick, and it’s been getting great reviews, so I’m looking forward to it.

After that, my family is planning on taking me out for dinner, obviously assuming I will be getting in tomorrow…

I’m not really sure if I’ll find the time to post tomorrow morning when I find out (I’ll obviously try and at least post something quick), hopefully I will be able to post something.

Before I sign off tonight, I just want to thank everyone who has followed along during my progress this past year. Thanks for all your support and kind words, and hopefully I can make you all proud tomorrow =) – Why Grades Matter


The following is a guest post from my good friend over at He is currently a first year medical student and is involved in his school’s admissions process. His blog is fantastic, so check it out!

Why do grades matter so much when it comes to getting into medical school? We’ve all seen people obsessed with getting a good GPA, arguing with professors for extra an extra mark here and there, and studying not to learn, but as a means to a better grade. The hard fact is if you want to get into medical school, you need solid academic performance. As a result, many students become mark-mongering paranoid GPA calculators.

But we all know that a high GPA does not necessarily correlate with being a good physician. Intangible factors like compassion, empathy and bedside manner cannot be recorded on a transcript. So why should grades play such an important role, if not the most essential, when it comes to medical school admissions?

There are three reasons why medical schools, and why you too, should put such a big emphasis on grades. (1) Convenience, (2) Objectivity, (3) Indication of future performance


Continue Reading →

Success: Geography Midterm Finally Completed!

It only took more than a month, but this whole Geography midterm ordeal has finally come to a close.

Perhaps it was the threat of having to do an oral exam with the professor, maybe it was the fact that security guards were stationed inside the building, or maybe whoever was pulling the fire alarm before decided to finally study.

Whatever the case, I am happy to say that I finally completed my geography midterm with no fire alarm interruptions! =)

Phew, that only took like, over a month…

Amazingly, the topic of Empires didn’t come up on the midterm this time… maybe they thought the fire alarm puller would give in as long as they took out the empire question, who knows?

So What’s Left for the Semester?

For the next three weeks, until exams start, I finally have a bit of a break. The only real bit of work I have to do is my final essay for my Philosophy of Biology course, but beyond that, it’s pretty smooth sailing until exams start on May 22. Even though that’s a pretty big paper (worth 40% of my final grade!), it does feel like heaven compared to the last few weeks.

11 More Days…

It’s also May 4 today, meaning it’s just 11 more days until I get back the first round results of my medical school applications.

I’m honestly not really feeling that much. While I do get nervous, stressed our or anxious like anyone else, I don’t really feel it until it’s really close to the actual date. I imagine I will feel significantly more nervous late next week, but as of now, I am not thinking about it much.

I think this actually explains why I procrastinate so much. For some people, they get their work done early and ahead of time because they feel the stress that much sooner. Myself, on the other hand, I don’t really feel the pressure until, say, the day before. Without feeling the pressure earlier, I end up procrastinating essays, studying, etc. I’m not using this for justification as much as for the sake of trying to find an explanation for my procrastination.

Some of you guys may have noticed that I have a link on the left menu to a blog called Medaholic.

The author of the blog is a good friend of mine, who is currently in his 1st year of medical school. We took the MCAT the same summer, and having him around to discuss MCAT related things was really helpful.

Not only does his blog provide great insight into life as a 1st year medical student, but as he is involved with his medical school’s admissions process this year, he has the unique perspective of understanding how admissions committees think. The result of this are some phenomenal articles with advice on medical school applications, and dealing with the process as a whole.

We’ve decided to do a bit of writing for each other, and he has already sent me a great article which I will post tomorrow or the day after.

He’s a super humble guy, and easily one of the smartest people I know. If you haven’t checked out Medaholic yet, I urge you to do so!