Archive | June, 2009

Why You Need to Think Critically about Advice and Who You Get it From


Sometimes I read advice online for medical school admissions from medical students that I think is fundamentally wrong. Of course this would seem counter-intuitive – how could someone be wrong about advice if they got in?

Consider a game of rock, paper, scissors (yah yah, how many times have I used this example now?). Imagine your opponent is playing scissors. Now also imagine that you’ve never played the game before, so you enlist the help of a friend who has. This friend has defeated this opponent before and tells you to play rock because it worked for him last time. If you listen to him and play rock, you’ll win too. Great.

But what if your opponent decides to play paper instead? Of course your friend comes along and again tells you to play rock because that’s what he did last time and it worked for him. But if you play rock, you’ll quickly realize that it doesn’t work this time. So what went wrong, and how could your friend win at this game but fail to help you this time?

Short-Term Success does Not Necessarily Equate to True Understanding

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Is medical school admissions basically a lottery?


If you’re an avid reader of this blog, you can probably guess what my answer is. But to me, the answer itself isn’t as important as understanding how we get that answer, because it is only by knowing the process of finding the answer that we will be able to answer similar questions correctly in the future.

In short, the answer is pretty clearly a no, despite what many frustrated applicants might think. Comparing the medical school admissions process to a lottery is not only an insult to the intelligence and efforts of medical school admissions committees, but it shows a problematic perspective to the process overall.

Why this is problematic

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Where I’ve Been and What I’ve Been Up To

You’d think that with classes now over and the next three months free, I would be blogging a lot more. That’s what I figured too, but unfortunately, I’ve been under the weather the past few days. Don’t know what it was, just felt very weak, but I’m feeling a lot better today and I am pretty sure whatever it was has passed.

This past week, final marks were slowly put up, and of course I was worried about Molecular Biology 2, which I’ve talked about several times here before. I ended up with a C+ in the course. I was happy that I passed the course (so that my medical school spot isn’t revoked), but I was a bit disappointed because that meant I didn’t do any better than 76 on the exam. I guess I was also a bit disappointed because this is the lowest course mark I think I’ve ever gotten in school. But that’s alright, there’s a first for everything.

The sick thing is how that mark would’ve affected me if I were applying to medical school again next year. That one mark would have brought my GPA for this past year to a 3.66, and would basically have made me ineligible to apply to Ottawa. It just goes to show you the importance of being consistent when it comes to grades in the medical school admissions process. It also makes me appreciative of the medical schools that take into account that sometimes you’re just going to have a few bad courses, and that one or a few bad courses should not destroy a person’s chance of becoming a physician.

Med School Prep

So once you get into medical school, you don’t just click accept and then wait until September for class to start. There is of course the acceptance form. You also have to submit a request to do a police check and take a CPR course.

You also need to get your immunization record checked by a physician to make sure you’re up to date with all of your immunizations, such as for Hepatitis B, because you will be working with many patients and staff at hospitals very soon. So I went to do that yesterday at my local clinic. My appointment was scheduled for 2:30pm, and I arrived there at ~2:15pm, maybe even a bit earlier. I finally saw my doctor at maybe 3:40pm. Needless to say I was a bit frustrated – then again, I can’t really say I’m surprised as I think waiting that long is quite common at a lot of busy practices.

One of the things I’ve always vowed to do if I became a physician was to make sure my patients were given their appointments at the times they were promised. I will be pretty disappointed if I end up making people wait a ridiculous amount of time and find no way around it. I know it’s going to happen sometimes, and it might be unavoidable, but it does seem a bit ridiculous at some clinics.

Interview Advice: The Importance of Being Memorable and Telling Stories


I was once asked in an interview to talk about an accomplishment I was proud of. Prior to the interview, I had come up with a list of practice questions and what my general approach to them would be – the “accomplishment question” was one of them. I had planned on mentioning my TD Canada Trust Scholarship because of it’s prestige, the hard work it represented, and how it has allowed me to continue doing a lot of my volunteer/non-profit work during university without worrying about having to pay for my education. But as soon as I was asked the question, I decided to change my mind and pick an experience that I had spoken about before, but had not planned on using as my answer for this type of question.

Instead of the TD Scholarship, I decided to talk about June 29, 2006. It was 9 a.m., and I was at City Hall in downtown Toronto. I was also really, really tired. I was tired because the previous day was a big day for me. Not only was June 28 my 18th birthday, but it also ended up being the day of my graduation and high school prom (yah, my high school was weird that way). Needless to say, June 28 was a really big and exciting day for me, but also a very tiring one.

So why did I need to be up at so early the day after my birthday, graduation, and prom? The previous fall, my friends and I started a Make Poverty History student banner that was signed by students in over 30 schools and university campuses in Southern Ontario. June 29, 2006 was the one-year anniversary of the Live 8 concert, and so there was a Make Poverty History press conference held at City Hall to commemorate the event, as well as remind world leaders to put issues of poverty on the agenda for an upcoming G8 meeting. To celebrate the work of all the students involved, we were given the opportunity to present our banner at the press conference.

Part of that presentation involved me giving a speech about the banner. It was a really cool experience, especially the chance to share the podium with the likes of Gerry Barr (past-chair of Make Poverty History Canada), Steven Page (of the Bare Naked Ladies), and Toronto Mayor David Miller. The reason why I was proud of that moment was more than because it culminated the achievement of our banner campaign. It was a great personal achievement for myself – if you had told me four years before when I started high school that I would be at that podium a day after turning 18, I would never have believed it. That wasn’t the person I was when I entered high school – I was much too shy. For me, that moment also represented the personal transformation I went through in high school as I opened myself up to more experiences, and for that reason, I was very proud of myself.

Telling Stories

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