Hey everyone! Welcome back to Beyond BMSC. Today, we'll be hearing from Avneesh, a third year Queen's medicine student who graduated from BMSc's IMS module not too long ago! So let's skip the chitchat and hear from Avneesh himself!
To hear the audio version of the following conversation, please visit us on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/55QxpEniXCjF5OHLa2pEt2
Q: Alright, welcome back to another episode of The Beyond BMSC Podcast where we interview past Medical Sciences students who graduated from the program and are now pursuing graduate programs, in order to answer your questions and concerns and to give us a unique insight into what it's like in a post-medical science pathway.
My name is Eddie and today we're joined by Avy. How are you doing today, Avy?
A: Hi Eddie, thanks for having me doing well today.
Q: Right, so if you could please introduce yourself to the viewers and let the audience know just a little bit about yourself. So which MS module you were in during undergrad which program you're currently enrolled in? And something so kind of like a hobby or an extracurricular that you have that you're kind Of really passionate about?
A: Yeah for sure, as mentioned my name is Avy. I'm from Brampton, Ontario and I did my high school and I guess studies in the GTA prior to now going to Western for my undergraduate degree to do my BMSC. I completed my four years. Then graduated with honors of the IMS and but I guess my path was a little different from the traditional four-year in that I did the one-year science internship after my third year of studies, which was great. I did a year in pharma before returning to Western for my 4th year and graduating in 2018. After completing my undergrad studies, I did one year of healthcare consulting before. you know, I was accepted to Queen's medicine in 2019, so now I'm a third-year Med student and you know, looking forward to the future.
Q: Uh, for sure, yeah. So just to go off of what you just said was the kind of one-year internship kind of something you definitely knew you were going to do in your freshman year. Or was it something that was kind of just, you know, spur of the moment, spontaneous, you know, like oh, it seemed like a good opportunity?
A: For sure.
I think it was more the latter in the sense that it was more of a spontaneous decision at the same time, I was sort of at a crux, and what I wanted to do with my life. In grade school and first couple of years or undergrad I'd always heard about the concept of going into medicine, but I didn't know if I was truly passionate about going into it. I truly didn't know what I wanted to do with my life at that time. And if I was applying to medicine at that point. It would have been for the wrong reasons and so I wanted to give myself an opportunity to explore what else might be out there. And I know there is also the avenue to Go and do your HBA. you can go into so many other professional programs, you can go directly into work and so I wanted to explore what, what else is out there. I applied to several different job opportunities through the internship program and I got accepted to work with Glaxo Smith Kline, which is a pharmaceutical company. That that whole experience with GSK was ultimately what ended up leading me to, you know, pursue a a medical career Instead of something else.
Q: No, yeah, I think that's definitely a Fairpoint. I think a lot of you know students even kind of like peers that I know are kind of almost like hesitant trying to, you know, go into medicine 'cause you know—Obviously, it's a really daunting challenge. There's a lot of work ahead, and I think that you know exploring your options. Often you know some people just kind of come into the university with one goal, and I think that sometimes our goals can change, and it's not necessarily, you know, really a bad thing.
A: And I think that's a that's a really good point Eddie. To kind of follow up on that. It's not just the knowledge or being able to apply the knowledge you've gained during your undergraduate years, but it's a lot of the intangible skills that you end up developing in years off, not years off, but years where you're doing something other than studying. During that one year I learned to communicate with people who were a lot more experienced than I was. Develop those leadership skills, communication skills, collaboration skills. I mean, these are all just buzzwords when I say them, but when you actually go through the process, you really reflect on on your experience back and you wouldn't really be the same person you are now if you didn't have that opportunity to grow.
Q: Yeah no 100%. Uhm, so tell me a bit a little bit about your, you know, personal experience with the MD program at Queens. What did you really kind of like or dislike about the program so far?
A: Yeah for sure. Uhm, so so like I said, I'm in my third year now and the way Med school works is the first two years are almost like your traditional undergraduate experience where it's called your pre clerkship years where you're kind of studying. You have your exams and you're in lecture halls, and then your latter 2 years or when you are in the hospital. So my experience with the MD program has been nothing short of amazing and and I say that with the caveat That I had gone You know I had that experience during undergraduate and realized that medicine was like my true passion And so when my true passion aligned with my personal values I feel like I I'm fulfilled and you know moving forward and wanting to do something and you know, in a career in medicine and so the stuff that I learned in my first two years of medical school, I think the analogy is you're you're trying to sip water from a hose that's running.
Q:Oh, I think I think I've heard that yeah, I think I've heard that example like a fire hose or something along those sorts, yeah?
A: Exactly, so it's a lot of information coming at you and you're in no way shape or form expected to remember it all in your first two years...and so the idea of being able to draw back. And look at your notes and see like familiar words here and there and you're like, Oh yeah, like I remember seeing this in the hospital. I wonder what it means to this patient I'm seeing now and then making that link kind of creates a whole new sense of appreciation for medicine. And so it's just the idea of constant learning that that really attracted me, and so that's what I really enjoyed about. My first couple of years in in medical school ,and you know the lifelong friends you've developed along the way as well. those those can't be discounted and and they're they created the support system along my way as along my journey. in terms of what I don't like: Medical schools a commitment. This is nothing specific to to Queens Medicine Medical School is definitely a commitment, and what I mean by that is you may not be able to see you know your undergrad friends or your family as much as you would like. You know Queen I'm. I'm from the GTA so Queens is about a 3/4 hour drive sometimes and right and so so I might not see my family for like a month at a time or two months at a time depending on what my schedule is. And it's varying depending on your school's workload. it's pretty concrete once you're once you're in medicine that you're going to be practicing medicine. I mean there are other avenues that I think you can go into consulting and things like that, not necessarily something that I've explored, but it's something to consider before coming into medical school. I would say you need to have a good sense of knowing what what you're getting yourself into.
Q: No, yeah, that's definitely some of the points there...So obviously you've, after graduating, you know from Medical Sciences program and being in the MD program now. what are kind of some of the largest differences you've personally encountered in your life between the two programs. So obviously it's not limited to school, it's not like the program or academics itself, but like anything you know that you've seen, you know, changed in your lifestyle or you know, huge changes like that. Obviously I know you mentioned that you know medical school is definitely a commitment. Very time consuming, requires a lot of your focus day today. You might not see your family for a long time, so I was wondering if there's anything else in terms of How you split up your time? you know any of those kind of differences that students might not initially think about when they decide to pursue medicine?
Yeah, that's a great question. Before I started getting into the differences, one thing I realized I never got into was the similarities between the two programs, and so I want to start off by saying that the BMSC program to be quite Frank was was a great foundation for medical school. Honestly, there were a lot of similarities in the content that we were learning. At first it was kind of a review of of the core content of your BMSC program. I think that's specific to anyone who took the core sciences throughout their undergrad. Took the anatomy, Took Histology, I mean anatomy and Histology don't change: might go into it in different depths, but it's still core content that that is medicine. And so when I when I entered my first year it, It didn't hit me like a like a brick. I felt comfortable in that sort of an environment and the pace. I said my kudos to Western for preparing me in that sense. So those are the similarities in terms of differences. I would say is my my first year was very similar to undergrad in terms of you go to class, you come back, you go chill with friends, you go study, go play intramurals and then you have your exams every three or four weeks. I think one thing that might be a little bit different is, The number of exams you're going to be taking, so you almost have an assessment a week in in in medical school, but you get so used to it because you're basically required to review what you just learned a couple weeks ago, and so you're just constantly building and so you really get into the zone of things after a little bit during medical school
and then during second year. There's a transition from OK. You've learned the core basic content in in terms of Histology, anatomy, and Physiology. Now let's apply it to the different core organs, so that'll be like your respiratory system, your cardio, your cardio system, You know your lungs, your kidneys, liver, you name it, and then being able to apply that level of knowledge from first year at a second year. But there's a huge learning curve there, because now everything is application based. You learn how to approach a patient in your first year and then learning how to approach a patient using the knowledge that you also begin to accumulate in your second year of studies, and then third and 4th year you're in the hospital and you just apply everything you learned in your first and second year and constantly You know, revisiting what you've learned and what new things you've attained during your clerkship years and keeps on building from there.
So I would say in summary, your first year is pretty similar to undergrad. Second year is more application based and then third and 4th year in the hospital. So of course very different from underground.
Q: yeah, i definitely see a lot of people kind of talking about, you know the ability to apply. you know what you've like kind of textbooks to, you know a real life situation is definitely like a core kind of aspect of medical school. So as a current medical student is there you know any specific tip or you know piece of information that you wish you knew as an undergrad before applying to queens, or even just an MD program in general?
A: yeah, if if i had to go back and give myself a piece of advice, i think i was what 21, 22 when i graduated undergrad and and i got into med when i was 23. but when i look at my classmates and you know i talked to these people on a daily basis. i think i accumulate all that information and i would tell my undergraduate self to honestly chill out.... in terms of going for a professional career it you know things come at their own pace. you're in it for the long haul, so enjoy the ride as cliche as that sounds you know. if i'd gotten into medical school honestly, at the age of 20 or 21, i would have felt so rushed, because once i got in, you're kind of like, ok, you know, it's your four years of medical school now you're gonna go into residency and that's it, your life is set right. At the end of the day, you still end up getting that MD right and so it's almost like a linear process once you get into medical school.
my undergraduate year is in my year after medical school where i did healthcare consulting is really what built me into the person that i am today, so there's absolutely no rush into getting into medical school, and even if you don't get in after your four years, which in my experience i had a lot of friends who went down that path. and you know, i'm so thankful that, they've had the experiences that they had, and they got into medical school after four years. but when you see your peers make a certain career path for themselves and you feel as though you're not living up to those expectations that you set yourself. it can be stressful and it can be daunting and i think for anyone who's listening to this podcast right now, uhm, i think you need to take a second to take a step back, and appreciate that life comes out at its own pace. Really, it's your experiences that help dictate what you want in life and where you end up going. Certainly my experience. I think you know like 20-30 to get into medical school in my eyes. even now it's still ridiculously early like you can get into medical school in your late 20s, early 30s, and it makes no difference, because whether you're you know 30 whether you're 20, you start off at the exact same point to medical school, and you go through the exact same training so...there's no rush. it's hard to hear. i remember people telling me this, and you know, i was kind of hard headed and i was like no, i need to go into medical school, i have to right now because my friends are there and so on and so forth.
I think that is such a naive way of thinking, and i really want to to press the idea of take your time, enjoy life, enjoy the process and one way or another you'll get to where you want to be.
Q: exactly, you know, i think that's definitely a a sentiment that i see myself within, you know, my own kind of undergraduate experience. So, given the current situation with the global, you know global pandemic and whatnot, what are some of the you know, unique challenges you faced as a medical student and whether that be in the classroom, Or in your clinical rotations, that as a result of that that you think you know undergraduates should really know about.
A: so covid hit my education when i was in the latter half of my first year, and there's only about a month or month and a bit left of first year and then the entirety of second year and of course now come from an educational standpoint, the undergraduate medical education office had to make the decision as pretty much all universities and schools had to do is to go online. It was tough, you know, seeing your queens is a small program. i knew i saw everyone and to go from that to online learning and not seeing everyone face every single day with a bit of a challenge and for sure so. but that's that's for everyone, right? that's not unique to medical school. then from a clinical standpoint we didn't quite get as much exposure as a normal year for obvious reasons, but i still say we would have gotten enough in terms of exposure to specialties and developing the clinical skills.
for example, learning how to take a history, learning how to do a physical, we still develop those core competencies during our first year of medical school and that that doesn't change during your second year. so we still have that core information, those core skills and obviously when we entered third year, it may not be the the same level as some of the previous third years and other clerks, but it develops over time and it develops quickly.
So, whether you know you didn't have as much experience compared to previous years, you'd ultimately develop the same level of skills you'd become just as competent when you graduate, and so that's not necessarily something that i'm concerned about myself either.
i would say those are the two biggest differences online learning and i, i guess a little less clinical experience, but it doesn't change a thing once you go into the hospital and practice it every single day.
Q: it's definitely an important point. all right, and to wrap up, uh, what final words do you have, current BMSC students or even previous pre med students listening in who might be, you know, confused or anxious about the whole, you know application process.
A: yeah for sure. uhm, 2 things. one is, you know, sort of the general undergrad experience, and secondly, it's the application process. in terms of your general undergrad experience and i think it's super important to just appreciate how far you've come. it's very easy to again make a baseline comparing yourself to your peers and i know how the program is, it can be challenging. there's a lot of successful individuals in that program that go on to do great things, and when you compare yourself to those peers again, it can be stressful and it can be daunting. i think just take a second to reflect how far you've come, what you've personally achieved. Have trust in the process and not everyone wants medicine and if you ultimately do want it and you are certain that medical or going to medical school and becoming a doctor is what you want to do in life, then i would say go for it. It takes time to get to make that decision in life, and it did for me.
I wouldn't say i would say to be honest, i didn't want medical school 100% up until fourth year of my undergrad, and so take time to consolidate what you've learned, your experiences. you know go learns and some new things take part in new experiences before coming to that decision, because once you do you you want to go head over heels and in pursuing it now.
Secondly, in terms of the application process. there's no way of getting around it the application process is lengthy and and it can be tiring. but again, everyone who's applying to medical school has to go through that exact same process of writing your MCAT. it can be stressful and it can be tiring, but once you go through the whole process, you'll kind of understand how your experiences line up for for why you want to go into medical school, being able to articulate that in your in your application goes a long way.
yeah, i think that's that's the advice i would give. i know it's rather vague, but just make sure to to keep attuned to who you are as a person throughout the entire process and you know, just trust yourself.
your potential is limitless, limitless, and so trust that moving forward and you know you'll, you'll do great.
Q： Alright, well definitely some solid advice to end in the episode on. well, well, i think that's all the time we have today for this episode of the beyond BMSC podcast. thank you once again to avy for coming in and really taking the time out of your busy schedule to share your experience as a BMSC graduate in MDD program. i'm sure that a lot of students who are listening in with questions and concerns about the pre med track definitely found your perspective extremely enlightening.
A: awesome, thanks again eddie and thank you to BMSA for having me, and this is fantastic. for those of you listening in who want to hear more? or have some questions of your own that you'd like to have answered. check back on the BMSC website and other social media platforms for episodes with new students each week.