BMSA Podcast: Physiology
Interviewer: Lynda Wo
Interviewee: David Diao
Lynda: Hello everyone and welcome to another ITR session with BMSA where we interview senior students in the medical science program in order to give you guys a better background for your intent to register choices. My name is Lynda and today we’re joined by David. So, tell us a little bit about your module and year?
David: Hi everyone my name is david and I am currently in fourth year and I am in the honours specialization program for physiology (only physiology). A quick note: the physiology specialization is quite similar in terms of the types of courses you take to the pharmacology and physpharm specialization, so you can take my word for both phys and pharm courses. Something that’s a little bit interesting about me is that I am also the president of BMSA, so I am very happy to be sharing my experience with you today.
Lynda: thank you for being here. So, here’s your chance to tell us why you love physiology, and why did you choose this module?
David: For me, coming out of high school, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do -- I knew medicine was pretty interesting, but I didn’t really have a passion for, like, molecular biology or cancer studies. So when it came time for ITR, and you have like 20-30 + options, I think I tried to choose one that is more focused than IMS - so I wanted to choose something that had a specific focus - and physiology was the one that was the most general out of all the modules. What I mean about that is, in physiology you’re supposedly learning about the systems of the body (breathing, digestion), which I thought to be more relatable than how biochemical molecules work, personally.
Lynda: you mentioned choosing physiology over IMS (as an example), was there being a thesis project for hon spec phys a strong point in your choice of specialization?
David: yeah, absolutely. I really wanted to do a thesis because, something I personally think is quite valuable is to have those experiences that will help you grow as a person by being different. So, if you take IMS, you are taking many courses + capstone courses, but I knew a thesis was going to be very different. In the past, I’ve never really had opportunities to pursue a research interest that I could choose. I’ve done research in the past, but honestly I think you all could find it relatable that you don’t really have the luxury of choosing your topic when volunteering in research labs. When you do a thesis, one of the supervisors has to match with you. If you really dig deep and get yourself in their lab, it is usually going to be quite possible.
Lynda: That is actually really interesting and I’m sure some of our listeners didn’t know that. So, before going into third year, what do you wish you had known before going into the module. So its March and ITR season is ending soon.
David: Ok, so something I really wished I knew before is how the marking sort of changes when you go from second to third year. Obviously, as a physiology student, I can only speak to physpharm courses, but I wouldn't be surprised if this was the case for other modules as well. But basically what happens is that you have a lot of multiple choice and some short answer here and there, but honestly in third year, you can thrown for a loop bc you have assignments and they’re being marked by different TAs; you could be doing the exact same thing and give it to 4-5 different TAs and your mark could range 75-95s. This huge spread took time to get used to especially if you’re used to being in the higher range of marks. A third year is a bit of a reality check - no matter how much time you can put into your assignments, Sometimes it's still not going to go your way and it's honestly that's fine you just kind of have to live with it
Lynda: you’re speaking of the lab course? The main physpharm 300e?
David: Yes the main course physiology 3000e is quite an adventure but I will say this was a best course I've ever taken. my mark was far from desirable from the course but if you sort of assume that that's going to happen, then it's not going to be a huge deal. My mark wasn't terrible but if you're okay with having a bit of a hit, the experiments were so much fun. They do four different rotations and you get put in different groups all the time so it's a great chance to meet your peers. I know it sounds weird but I admit we don't really have a lot of chances to meet like-minded people in medsci so this really happens in the 3000e course where the classes are smaller and it opens a lot of new doors.
Lynda: so would that be your main difference from third year to second year? IN comparison, were there other things that were just mindblowing or shocking to you?
David: Honestly I think this course was definitely the biggest difference. I will say most of the other courses were pretty similar - just multiple choice a little bit of short answer and those honestly were fine. Whenever short answers were on tests, they were pretty much marked pretty generously so don't worry about those. The other courses were generally quite the same
Although another thing that makes me interested in physiology (and other people may think about this as well) but people say that physiology might be one of the most important or useful modules if you want to go into medical school, not because it gives you some sort of a Competitive Edge over others, but rather because when you get into medical school, you're going to have to learn about physiology anyways so if you do the physiology module and take physiology courses that might give you a head start when you get into med school. But this is a whole other Journey so don't think too much about that
Lynda: Yeah I see how that works - there are many profs in physiology who also teach in Schulich too. So that checks out. Alright so last statement, what final thoughts or words would you give to the first or second years listening who may be going through the same confusion
David: Yeah honestly I think a piece of advice that is quite underrated but gets said a lot, is to really pick what you’re kind of interested in. And I know we are thinking first: “I don't even know what I'm interested in yet” because you haven't tried it, and that's a fair point. Another thing is that you are concerned about marks because at the end of the day, as University students yeah “oh yeah we're here to learn”, but the only way that we are assessed by your school is through grades so it's understandable that people are concerned, I myself also focus on grades. But, just understand that no matter what you pick, your grades may still potentially go down, so try not to weigh too heavily if certain courses are very difficult or if you hear that stuff is really hard. Note that since professors can change between courses, maybe your whole marking scheme changes so there's a lot of unknown factors for marking. Picking something that you're really interested in is the best thing to do, but if you don't have something really interested in, I do think physiology might be your best bet for a thesis based honours specialization that is available just because the scope of physiology is so much larger than the other modules. It's honestly quite big so there is a lot of Faculty, a lot of research to get to know too, so if you want an honour specialization that has a thesis physiology and you don't really know specifically what you want to do I think physiology is a pretty good bet.
Lynda: great plug for your module. Thank you for being here. So this was BMS ASI Tierra module for the physiology module and check back next week on our social media platforms and Spotify for ITR podcasts interviews with senior students for different specializations.