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Residency Family Medicine, Patient Diversity

 

It was quite late in my academic career when I decided that I would like to become a physician; in fact, I wasn't one hundred percent certain until after I completed my undergraduate degree.

In grade nine, I was introduced to genetics and my scientific career was born. I was so fascinated that I did a research paper on genetic engineering in grade eleven for my language arts course. When I graduated from high school many of my peers in biology class had aspirations of medicine. Not me! I was going to be a PhD geneticist.

Because of my keen interest in genetics during the first two years of my undergraduate education, I sought out laboratory research experience. In the last two years of my B.Sc. program I was continually involved in research in some capacity. This invaluable experience not only helped to hone my critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, but it also helped me recognize that I like to see and work with the big picture, especially the big medical picture.

Two other experiences in my third year of university helped further my interest in medicine. First, I started volunteering in the pediatric playroom at the university hospital. I truly enjoyed playing with the kids, especially the oncology patients. I was amazed at the resiliency and maturity of these kids battling something as devastating as cancer and still having the energy to be children. It was inspiring.

Then, shortly after Christmas of 1995 my younger brother's best friend was diagnosed with and ultimately succumbed to leukemia at the age of 15. This boy, who sat at my dinner table at least once a week for years, the same boy I drove all around the city dropping him off at malls and movies and friends' houses, became one of the oncology patients I saw at the hospital each week. Peter never achieved remission and died of a fungal infection in June 1996. I never completely understood why until I did a pediatric oncology elective at that very same hospital in my third year of medical school.

Several things happened in the fourth year of my B.Sc. program to solidify my desire to become a physician. I taught the laboratory component of the introductory genetics course to first and second year university students. It was a tremendous amount of work because it wasn't something that could be put on the back-burner while I was busy with my own course requirements. These students depended on me for 40% of their final grade! I had a major responsibility to help these young people learn, understand and succeed. It was unbelievably rewarding and I knew that I wanted a career that afforded me the opportunity to teach others and participate in their successes.

The final experience that convinced me that I wanted to be a physician was my three-month back-packing excursion in Europe. Apparently I did what one is supposed to do when one goes to Europe: yes, I found myself. I came back home definite that I wanted to go to medical school. The funny thing is I don't remember giving a moment's consideration to my career aspirations while I was travelling. I just had a great time seeing new places, experiencing new cultures and, above all, meeting new people. I met people from many different countries and all walks of life and I loved every minute of it. I knew that I would meet thousands of people over the course of my career as a physician and I would have the opportunity to hear all of their stories in their own unique way. I couldn't imagine a more rewarding career.

Upon entering medical school I had no idea what type of medicine I wanted to practice. I had originally anticipated that I would become a specialist of some description. However after completing all of my core clinical rotations and especially my family medicine rotation, I now can only envision myself as a family doctor. I can honestly say that I enjoyed all of my rotations. I loved working with the geriatric population in my internal medicine and family medicine rotations. I also enjoyed obstetrics & gynecology and pediatrics. I particularly enjoyed primary care medicine and preventative medicine. I also value the portability and flexibility of family medicine. As a family physician I intend to provide primary care medicine with an emphasis on prevention of disease to my pediatric, obstetrical and geriatric patients.

I'm interested in family medicine programs that will allow exposure to a wide variety of patients, especially in ethnicity and pathology. I'm seeking valuable experience in inpatient and ambulatory geriatrics, pediatrics, obstetrics gynecology and surgery. I'm also seeking programs that emphasize teaching and clinical research. Finally, I'm interested in working with people who enjoy their jobs and working in an environment where support and camaraderie are of the utmost importance.

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