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Beyond BMSc - interviewing Western Master's of Science

Hey everyone! Welcome back to Beyond BMSC. Today, we'll be hearing from Krithy, an amazing individual with a Master's degree at our very own University of Western Ontario! So let's skip the chitchat and hear from Krithy herself!

To hear the audio version of the following conversation, please visit us on Spotify:

Western MMaSc

Interviewer: Renee

Interviewee: Krithika

Renee: Hello, and welcome to Beyond BMSc, where we interview past medical science students who are pursuing graduate programs to answer your questions for post BMSc pathways. So, my name is Renee and today we are joined by Krithy. So, why don't we start by Krithy telling us a little bit about yourself.

Krithika: Hi, my name is Krithika. And I went to Western for my undergrad and I also went to Western for grad school. For my undergrad, I did a Medical Sciences, a major Medical Sciences and a major in Psychology. So, an honors double major, and followed, following that up, I then did a professional Master's at Western, which is the Master’s of Management of Applied Science program and I specialize in Biological Sciences, which kind of like combines my science background with business. So, that’s kind of like a way to, I guess, propel me into the business world at the same time, like having to utilize the science skills that I acquired over the past four years, in my undergrad. And at Western, on top of doing or being part of the Western science, Medical Science community and Psychology community, I worked as a research assistant for three and a half years at the University Hospital. I do orthopedic research with Dr. Matthew Teeter in his implant retrieval lab. It's the biggest in the country. And so, it was really nice to work with someone who's an extremely talented scientist. So, I really enjoyed that aspect of my life. And top of that, I held about 10 to 12 exec positions at Western and worked with Habitat for Humanity and as like a Vice President of Habitat for Humanity and vice president of fundraising with fundraiser over $40,000. During the time I was at Western, I've done two international disaster relief projects while during my undergrad, and was part of the Volta fashion magazine publishing several issues during my time. So like, I've done a lot of Western. That's why I really love talking about anything related to Western. I think it transformed me as a person. And because of that, because of doing Medical Sciences and Psychology and Business, and all these extracurricular activities, I'm kind of like navigating life a lot better. And that's why like, I just wanted to hop on this podcast until you guys how I felt about being in Med Sci and whatnot.

Renee: That is so cool. Oh, my goodness. Can you tell me a little bit about how you got into research? Like when did you start?

Krithika: So you have to offer like, there's so many different people it's kind of like a basic thing for Med Sci like, ‘yo, are you doing a research position?’ Somebody will be like, ‘no, I'm not’ and then you panic.

Renee: and then you start panicking. Because I think now we're at the stage where I think people are starting to look and you start feeling the pressure of like, having to email profs and having to read up on their research. So, the thing that we're all feeling right now.

Krithika: Sorry, I interrupted you.

Renee: Oh, that's okay. Continue.

Krithika: Well, I just think it's a bit intimidating, especially if you're a first-generation student going in, and you kind of never had to navigate academia on your own and you kind of had your everything out, like, ‘Oh, my God, how would I go speak to this person?’ And like imposter syndrome kicks in and you're like, ‘how would I navigate that?’ And so, for research at Western, I emailed a whole bunch of professors, and one of the professors up so - And I also emailed a whole bunch of scientists at Western. One of the things, a tip that I would tell a lot of people is to look into scientists at robots and scientists who are currently working at the University Hospital scientist or slash assistant professors who actually have labs, at Western, at the University Hospitals. So, reach out to them see if they need more people. That's how I got into touch with Dr. Matthew Teeter. He's an assistant professor at Schulich med school, and he teaches medical biophysics. And so, to me, it was like, Oh, he was like, ‘Yeah, I have a room open and you can come in,’ and I've never done research before. And I've worked with him for about three and a half years working with hip knee shoulder implants, something that I've never done. So, it was clinical research. It wasn’t boring, but certain times it was but that's part of research. Yeah. Right. And you kind of figure it out. You're like, ‘oh, wait, I don't really want to do research’, or ‘I do really want to do research.’ And that's why I would say in that sense, Medical Sciences kind of like pushes you into that aspect of Science.

Renee: Yeah, I guess it just kind of helps you figure it out a little more.

Krithika: Yeah, just just just to see ‘yo, am I interested in this. Let's see here.’

Renee: Yeah not going to lie, as a first year, I will definitely take that advice of finding people in that area.

Krithika: Yeah. It's really hard though. Like, how would you go on finding? It's like, I didn't even know where research was like. I was like, oh, like I did chemistry, physics, biology. Good. I went to a school that didn't emphasize research. It was just textbook learning. Yeah, it was just hard to just be like, oh, let's do research. And first year when I had so many other kids who went to different schools that they were like, they did research before. They were doing high in high school, they were doing internships.

Renee: I have met people in, like in university now that have already had some prior experience and definitely did scare me a little bit.

Krithika: Kind of throws you off. You're just like, Oh, I am really behind.

Renee: like, wow, y'all have already started and I am barely even looking. I don't even know who to message.

Krithika: Yeah. No, yeah. That's one of the things.

Renee: Yeah, cuz BMSA, they had a little seminar about how to get a research position earlier this year and honestly, if I didn't attend that, I would literally have no idea how to even get started.

Krithika: Exactly, like you need some sort of guidance. One of the one other tips that I really want to tell people is like, make sure to see whether you qualify for work study. I don't know if somebody has told you that. So they usually list so many positions. And even if you don't qualify for work study and a friend does, they can kind of give you a list of all these professors who are looking for people, and you can volunteer at their labs for free whilst maybe your friend who qualifies for work study, may pay, maybe paid for their work, you know, does that make you can get from another person who can give you a list of professors looking for students.

Renee: I guess it's all about networking.

Krithika: It is ultimately it is so I mean, that's the sad reality of it. But yeah, it is.

Renee: I have to ask with all the extracurriculars, the amazing extracurriculars that you have. Did you feel like it was too much commitment at any point? Or like how did you like manage all that, while being a university student?

Krithika: I knew that when I when I wanted to, when I went into Western, I knew I was doing a very content, heavy based protocols, bachelor's, undergrad, right. I was in sciences, literally, the average to get in during my year was like 90+ or something. Yeah. And it still is very heavily content heavy regarded. Right. And so, for me, it was like, I didn't want to do any extracurricular activities that required too much work. Yeah, at this time, I didn't want to do anything that was too Science based. I was basically going to get the same consensus. If I joined, let's just say, a science club. And I was already part of a science major, I'm getting the same consensus. Yeah, so for me, if I wanted to expand my skills, professionally, I wanted to expand my communication skills in different areas. Because who knows, right? I may never end up getting a job in science anyways. So why limit myself to just one field, when I can look into fundraising, when I can work with Habitat for Humanity, I take on leadership roles elsewhere, that don't really require me to know science. And I did fashion and like right now I think about it's so many aspects of trying to go into I'm currently in the process of switching into UI UX design. So, for me, it's like learning about those aesthetics came from these extracurricular experiences outside of Medical Sciences. So, for me, it's like, wow, like, I wouldn't have this kind of experience or this kind of knowledge if I didn't do that club activity. Right. So, my strongest tip for everyone is just like, just do extracurricular activities that you think you would like, not what you think professional schools would like of you.

Renee: Oh, yeah, I've definitely heard that one.

Krithika: Because so many people were like, ‘oh, I'm part of this club and I'm part of that club’. And I'm not going to name which one is which. But like, come on, man. Do you really enjoy that or are you for the sake of ECs? You know.

Renee: I think it makes such a difference doing something that you actually like compared to doing something that you think you really have to do and it's not necessary but you feel like it is like it changes your perspective and it changes your outlook on life and changes your outlook on the whole activity.

Krithika: 100% And it's very tastaxing, right? To fake it so long like everybody says ‘fake it till you make it’. But what if you fake it so much that you don't even know your reality? Right, you grasp what you like, so just do everything. Join – I - Oh my god, this is so funny. I joined a ballet club.

Renee: Oh my god

Krithika: I am not a dancer and I was just like, what? I'm gonna do that? Oh my god no worst experience ever. But you know, I tried. I never did it again.

Renee: Yeah, I honestly think like if, if we truly enjoy something it might not even feel like as much work compared to as if we didn't enjoy it as much it probably feels more like a chore getting to what we have to do

Krithika: 100% 100% agree with that. And you will, you'll feel that right. Because yeah, it's it's a very taxing taxing thing, like, undergrad is very heavy courses. I remember taking pathology physiology, sorry, path phys and anatomy at the same time. I had exams at the same time. I was also a psych major. And I was taking third year psych courses. And I had like one bird course and I was like, I am dying. I would have fun at that club events, because they were just fun. So, it's kind of a good way like I think ECs are very important, especially for if they're diverse, and if that's what you like. So yeah,

Renee: Yeah. And about your whole, in the more academic perspective, how is a double major in med school any different from an actual, like, honors specialization in it?

Krithika: I think it's, I actually loved it. One of the things is I think IMS also allows this in that you can take so many different courses in comparison to literally, let's just say I'm doing a path specialization, right? You're going to take path heavy courses, you're focusing on a lot of courses that are related to path. Whereas with Medical Sciences major, I took histology, pharmacology, physiology, anatomy, immunology, pathology, like, look at how many ways I'm learning about the human body, right? I'm learning both gross anatomy and microanatomy. I have this leeway to pursue all these different courses without being tied down to doing an honors thesis, which I didn't want to do to begin with. And if you're someone who is really not sure what you want to do, like, Am I really into path? Am I really into like phys, and pharm? If you can't really figure out those differences? I think it kind of like made sense to me to pursue all of these things at the same time. It was hard. I'm not saying it's not hard. I was taking so many of these courses, but it kind of gave me a better understanding about science and human body in general.

Renee: Yeah, I think the whole double major, like it's something that I am honestly considering too, because it allows you to do so much more. And I did take an interest in Psych. So, definitely something that I'm considering.

Krithika: Exactly. And even with psych I was taking, some of the courses I was taking were neuroscience psychology. So, neuro psych, I was doing evolutionary psychology, sex differences in human behavior, drugs in behavior. So, like, all of these courses, like with Medical Science, and you're supplementing it with Psychology, I just thought like, I was getting the best out of my education. I'm paying all this money. And I'm not just narrowing down my understanding of science to just one field. Yeah.

Renee: That's so cool. That I think, like, honestly Psych helps connect the big picture a little bit better.

Krithika: It does. You learn about neurons, right? Let's just say you're learning about it in physiology, you're learning about action potentials. And suddenly you go to a psych class, and your teacher is talking about how drugs affect you in this way. Using action potentials. Yeah. It's just like, that's crazy. That's amazing. Right? And how these behaviors implicate what you do in life. And and that then connects to child psychology and then other different things. I just think it just made sense for me, because I got the best of both worlds. And when in both worlds like Medical Sciences was very science heavy, it was a lot about knowing these specific receptors and pharmacology was like about drugs physiology about how the human body functioned. histology was like, Oh, how does this tissue looks? How does this tissue look under a microscope? And all of these things I'm learning and then I'm connecting it with Psychology. So that's, oh, I also want to talk about bird courses if that was okay.

Renee: Yes, go ahead.

Krithika: A lot of people ask about bird courses and bird courses do exist.

Renee: I think they do. I think they do.

Krithika: They do. A lot of people are like they don't I'm like that is a lie because I took so many. Some of the things that I want - some bird courses that I kind of wanted to put out there so that people kind of have like an idea that they do exist would be classics, ancient sports, I think it was a third-year course or second year course. And then there was classics, Ancient Studies, there's geography of the Great Lakes, geography of Canada. There's environmental Chem. And then there's, I also took law, health care law, like I just did everything, because I just wanted to know, yo, I'm paying all this money, I might as well get the best out of it

Renee: Might as well make the most out of it.

Krithika: Like who knew? Who knows? Like, maybe I would be into law like you just, you, you can't know if something isn’t for you, if you haven't tried it once. So, I was just like, I'm going to try it. So, these are some birth courses. And of course, these differ, right, some people may not like regurgitate regurgitating information. I am the opposite like you can give me anything and I’ll memorize it.

Renee: Same.

Krithika: So for me bird courses do exist. So, if you are looking for them, hint, hint.

Renee: Yeah, I have another question about your, the, I guess the path that you're on right now? Like, how did you decide to get into your master's program?

Krithika: Well, that's actually a very good question. Um, so I wanted to actually go into professional school. And I was like, oh, and the consensus was that a lot of professional schools were looking for students doing their masters. But then I was like, okay, like, let me do something. But I didn't want to do a thesis Masters. And I don't know if you know, yet, I'm, I'm not assuming you don't know, I'm just saying in case somebody who's listening doesn't know, the real different types of masters. There is course based there is thesis based, and there are some that are a combination of both. Mine, I was very strictly sure that I was not going to do research. I did three and a half years of research and undergrad,

Renee: and that made your decision.

Krithika: That made me so sure that I'm not gonna do that. And so, I also didn't want to do a program or grad program where I'm not like, I'm not developing professional skills, like, I do have science knowledge, that's what this whole undergrad was about. Right. So, like, I wanted to ensure that I was connecting the dots with something professional. So, I did a professional master's at Western. It's a one-year Fast Track program, nine courses per semester.

Renee: Oh, oh.

Krithika: But it’s so, it's very fast paced. It's very tough, but it's like, it is what it is. So, I did that and it was a bridge program. My master's program is like the only one I think that is being offered in the country. I think the government even promotes it, if I'm not mistaken, is where it's one of the few programs that connects businesses, undergrads, I'm sorry, science undergrad with business. So, it was kind of a bridge program where I did project management, I took courses in marketing, I took courses in consulting, data science, like I learned to code for the first time in my life, and it was like learn R studio, do this. I know, it's like, I've never coded before. They're like, yeah, just learn it.

Renee: I just experienced it for the first time and I'm in the math course. So, getting there.

Krithika: What are you, you're learning coding in math?

Renee: In Applied Math, we're doing a little bit of Python and I've never coded in my life. Like, I haven't even written like a line of code in my life before this.

Krithika: So, think about it. You’re being exposed to coding, which I didn't. But, I so you kind of get what you mean. It's like, what am I doing? Because we are medical science students. And so, to learn something from a completely different field, I thought it was hard, but it was also kind of awesome. It's so refreshing. It is It's refreshing. It's something new. It's not the same thing again. So, I did that. I took ethics courses. I took oh, we learned about cancer medicine.

Renee: Oh, wow.

Krithika: So many different things. Oh, and we learned bio synthetics. So that was a really good course. All of these. So, I specialized in MMaSc. I specialized in biological sciences. So, a lot of my courses were how do we connect your science background to be able to go out into the world and do something professionally. Because one of the things I really don't like about Med Sci is how much they emphasize either research or professional school. I was really stressed out doing like in the last phase of Medical Medical Sciences, because I was like, What am I going to do with my degree? If I don't go into professional school? What can I possibly do? Right? And then it kind of opened my mind. Like, you have all these skills that you've learned in science, you're a good researcher, you can analyze data, you can write all these reports, you're communicating with all these team members, when you're doing your research projects, or lab reports, all of these things. And why can’t these skills be transferred to other fields? Why can't you be a project manager? Why can't you go into consulting? Public health companies? Why can't you work for tech companies doing consulting or marketing, one of the bigger courses that I took in my master's program was marketing, it transformed the way I thought about just science, and how great of an impact marketing has in the way we deal with products. Right? Even science products, like the things that we buy, have a huge implication in how they're marketed to us, right? I was like, it was, I was scared in the beginning, or at the end of my undergrad journey with my Med Sci major and Psych major, because I was like, what am I going to do? Like, if I don't have, if I don't have professional schools going for me? Or if I don't go into research? What am I going to do? Right? And it's like, as a teacher's college, or is what like, what can I possibly do? And then this Master’s kind of came to me at the right time, it was the right number of months. It was like a one-year professional program. You get your Masters, it was course based. And it comes with Co-Op, and I was like why wouldn't I do these things?

Renee: Yeah, that's even better.

Krithika: And also, you get to meet with professors very closely and one on one. So, for me, I was like, oh my God, like this kind of fits in, I can use all my skills for Med Sci, branch it with business and go into these other fields. That I - that was never really endorsed for me in Med Sci.

Renee: Yeah, that's, that's so interesting.

Krithika: Yeah. So that's what I did with like my Masters. So, it was a professional Master's.

Renee: And I have one final question for you. Do you have any final words to say to the BMSc students listening who might be a little confused with the whole process of pursuing further education?

Krithika: I think, I think it's just to know that like, everybody's scared, or everybody's confused, like, I don't think any 22-year-old has everything figured out.

Renee: Oh, yeah.

Krithika: It's, it's such an insane amount of pressure for people to have figured out their life after Med Sci. Right? Like, you're so young, you don't know, you still don't know what you completely like and you completely don't like. Our brain stopped developing, like at the age of 25. So, to me, it's like how can how are we kind of expected to know the trajectory of the rest of our lives when we're just so young. So, anyone who's listening, it's okay to be confused. It's okay to not know anything. Other kids fake it better, some kids just don't fake it better. I was a bad faker. I was obvious when I was going through it but I think my biggest thing is to just chill, ride out the wave. Things will eventually come out to you, when they come to you. Like, things are meant for you will eventually find a way to continue.

Renee: If it's meant to be, it's meant to be.

Krithika: If it’s meant to be, it's meant to be and one of the things I would suggest is like, really enjoy the process. Like, I think like we kind of expect ‘Oh, I can't wait for finals to finish. I can't wait for summer to start. I can't wait for summer to finish. I can't wait for school to start. I can't wait for midterms to finish.’ And we kind of live in this cycle where like we're constantly looking for the next thing instead of like, just being in the process and accepting that I am studying like romanticize your studying. Romanticize it because I felt like that was the only way I felt lighter.

Renee: Mm hmm. I totally get that.

Krithika: That's all I have to say for other Med Sci students that are listening. Good luck. You got this.

Renee: Thank you so much for your wealth of information and advice. That was amazing. So, this was BMSA’s podcast for a Master's program at Western so you can check back on our website and social media platforms for episodes for other programs with new students each week. So, thank you for listening and we hope that this has been helpful.



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