You got in! Now what?

June 26, 2019 onboardMD Team

On June 4th 2019, onboardMD™ hosted our first ever live webinar, all about helping the incoming class of med students understand what medical school will *really* be like. From "what surprised you most about med school?" to "what do you wish you had done the summer before med school started?", this awesome panel of current medical students gave funny, candid and insightful answers to all of our most pressing questions. Check it out!

Note: A full transcript is below.

 

 


TRANSCRIPT

Aimee: 
Hello everyone and welcome to our first ever onboardMD webinar. We're so happy that you can join us tonight. We hope you enjoy it. My name is Aimee King and I'm an Early Career Specialist with MD Financial Management. MD is a wealth management firm with 50 years of experience dealing solely with physicians and their family. Myself along with the rest my team in the Early Career segment are here to help you throughout your journey into medicine. We are here to support you for the most part with financial education so that when you start your medical career in a few short years you'll be in the best position possible. onboardMD was started a few years ago by a team of dreamers here at MD. They had gone out and interviewed med students and ask them what some of the struggles were to applying and getting into med school were. The reoccurring answer they got was "Finding the information I need", to which they thought "Well we can fix that". So the team developed multiple tools to gather all the relevant information needed for applying to and then surviving med school and putting it all in one place. The website is constantly growing and shortly we will be releasing our app so you'll have all of the information available at your fingertips. The best part of it all is that it's completely free. So here's a brief video about onboardMD to show you some of the highlights.  

onboardMD video: 
Wake up! You have a career in medicine to figure out. There are medical schools to research and applications to fill out. You have classes to attend and exams and rounds and electives and then more exams. You have to apply for that line of credit. And you thought you were done with applications. Don't forget CaRMS. Where exactly are you going to do your residency again? 

onboardMD video: 
And now that you're practicing you have a plan to manage all that debt right?  

onboardMD video: 
Yes. The first years of your journey in medicine can be a lot to handle - but you don't have to handle them alone. Brought to you by MD Financial Management, onboardMD is a digital platform that gives you the tools and resources you need to navigate your career in medicine. Browse information on Canada's medical schools and decide which one is right for you. Get a big picture view of your journey so you always know what's coming next. Get tips, insights and guidance directly from physicians who've been through it all and even connect directly with advisors who can support you with personalized recommendations. Whether you're a pre-med looking for the right school, a student trying to finance your education, or a resident moving into practice, onboardMD gives you the essential information you need all in one place. onboardMD - your journey in medicine starts here.  

Aimee: 
Well doesn't that make med school just look like a breeze. So before we begin I want to say a big congratulations to you all on getting accepted into med school. The hard part is done - or is it? I'm joined here today by three current med students from the U of T - Reza, Justin and Amita. And we're going to be answering some hard-hitting questions about what life is really like at med school. So please feel free to jump into our comment section with any questions you might have, and we're gonna try to get to them all. So first of all, let's get to know our panel right? Can you guys start off by giving me a quick little introduction about yourselves and where you're at in your medical training. Justin? 

Justin: 
Hi, my name is Justin. I'm a third year medical student at U of T. I'm around three quarters of the way through clerkship and just taking it day by day. Enjoying my classes.  

Amita: 
My name is Amita. I just finished my second year at U of T and I will be beginning clerkship in August.  

Reza: 
My name is Reza. I'm just finished my first year of medical school at U of T and I'll be going into second year come August.  

Aimee: 
It's so great to meet you all. It seems we are going to have some varied advice for all three of your first year. So this will be fun. So to start, is there one thing you guys wish you knew before you started med school?  

Aimee: 
You're the one with the most experience so maybe... The stuff that really stuck out and shocked you. Doesn't have to be from first year, just something that was like wow I wish I knew this before going into a career in medicine…

Justin: 
I think that, I guess, this will probably be my answer for everything, but I think one of the biggest things is sort of uncertainty. Just sort of like not really knowing what's happening but still being pushed forward and kind of coming to terms with that, going with the flow. I think that's something that I didn't really realize going in. I guess like the constant forward momentum and you kind of feel like you've been propelled forward, but like you don't know if you're ready or not.  

Aimee: 
Jumping in headfirst? Amita, anything?  

Amita: 
I think to jump on to what Justin described... Going into medicine and having medicine depicted on TV or even if you have friends or family in medicine as well. People are constantly telling you "oh, it's a marathon, it's a marathon, it's a marathon". After I finished undergrad, I thought "oh I've worked so hard. I'm ready for this marathon" and I did take a few years off between undergrad and med school and once I'm like halfway through now I actually now am beginning to understand it is a bit like... That current is always moving.  

Aimee: 
But is it a marathon full of little sprints? 

Amita: 
I would say so, yeah. But it is a lot more energy intensive than I thought it would be. And I already knew it was pretty energy intensive.  

Reza: 
Yeah. For me, one of the best pieces of advice I got really, somewhere about halfway through my first year, which I kind of wish I knew a little bit earlier but I still was lucky to get it early was once you start med school you're really in your career and you need to treat it like your career. You need to take the time you need, you need to take care of yourself. You can't just keep pushing yourself to the same extent that you were before because as mentioned it's a marathon. If you're going to sprint the whole way through you're gonna hit a wall. No one can survive that long. So really just like treat all of med school and your career going forward as a career.

Aimee: 
That's a great way to put it. I mean so much in this day and age, everyone talks about work-life balance and as students you kind of always think there's a bit of natural freedom and all that stuff but you guys kind of already did your undergrad. This is really the start of your career. You do have to treat it as a job and we'll touch more on that kind of work-life balance a little later. We'll circle back to that but can you guys tell me what a typical day looks like right now or a typical week?  

Reza: 
We all have such different... *unintelligible* 

Aimee: 
We want the diversity, we want the balance. 

Amita:
And we just started summer too, so... *unintelligible*  

Aimee: 
So, Justin, we're going to end with you, because we're going to *unintelligible*. Being that you just wrapped up your first year Reza, do you want to start? What did a typical day look like in first year? And maybe it changed from the start of the school year to the end of the intensity limit, so fill us in on kind of your typical... yeah. 

Reza: 
Yeah for sure. So yeah. My days did really change as I got more and more into medical school and I learned more about how to balance myself, how to schedule everything and how to study properly. I would say like near the start, I treated it more like undergrad where I went to class, you know I'd come home, kind of hang out and then I'd start to study a little bit closer to the exam date and then, you know, weekends before an exam, there was a big cram. As I got like more advanced into my first year I started to balance myself more for more regular studying. So I would like go to class and then after class maybe like review the material. I'd try to go to the gym between class and studying and then in the evenings usually around 10:00 or 11:00 pm, I'd usually wrap up whatever I'm doing no matter what and just watch TV, do some cooking, hang out, listen to music. Always kind of like set some deadlines for myself in terms of the day so I don't overwork myself and I have some time to hang out. 

Aimee: 
That sounds amazing. I really hope you can continue that next year! *Laughing*.  

Reza: 
First year...  

Aimee: 
Amita, anything to add? 

Amita: 
Similar to what Reza described. Again, each med school has a different way they run their curriculum, but for us we have a lot of... Sometimes we have lectures that are telecasted or podcasted, so you don't have to necessarily be there for lecture. I found it was really helpful for me to go to lectures, so I wouldn't fall behind and I just learned better. So on a day where, for example, say we had more lectures or seminars I would go to campus, stay around there have lunch on campus and depending on if we had a class in the afternoon, then I'd stick around if not, again, that work-like balance thing. I have a friend in medicine or not in medicine,  try to meet them in a coffee shop to study, just something off campus but still getting some work done at the same time. Go home around dinner time, go to the gym, have dinner, like all that kind of stuff and I would say pretty similar to what you're describing. 

Aimee: 
You've probably got the craziest year, well you're not wrapping up, you're still right in the midst of it. So, what does a typical week look like right now for you? 

Justin: 
So I think that it's really dependent on which rotation you're on. So I guess if you don't know, in third year at most medical schools, and more of bit earlier at like Mac or Calgary, you start clerkship and that's where you rotate through, I guess the very sort of like entry level specialties that are offered. And you learn a lot you, study a lot, but essentially it sort of switches from more of a classroom-based model to you actively being in hospitals or in the community doing clinical medicine. And so I'm on psychiatry right now and that sort of I guess the more traditional kind of hours that you'd experience, it's very much like 9 to 5. When you're on call, you're on call once a week at most and you're... or twice at most... but usually it's only 11:00 pm, at least at U of T. Whereas other rotations such as internal medicine you are on call 1 and 4 for 26 hours at a time and so on those days you sort of start at 8:00 in the morning to round and you stay there until you're at 5:00 pm when you're not on call. And then if you're on call, you would stay around until around 10am the next morning and sort of do consults and work in the emergency room and stuff like that. And on top of all this as well, you have to study for exams because every single rotation has a final exam. Most will have a written exam plus a clinical exam like an OSCE, which is sort of like a structured clinical examination. And you also sort of need to study to make sure that you understand what's happening to your patients so that you can care for them in the best way possible. And the unfortunate reality is also that you have to impress your staff to get reference letters for residency applications. 

Amita: 
Busy.  

Aimee: 
That sounds exhausting. I'm hoping this doesn't scare either of you guys yet, and hopefully doesn't scare any of our viewers. I also want to just reiterate to the viewers out there - feel free to jump in at any point with questions. We have some pre-seeded questions for our panel but we are glad to take any of them on. Just type them into the comments they are being monitored, so we will try to get to all of those. I do still want to continue on this. Because you said you know it involves exams on top of studying and on top of being there 26 hours. That's more than a 24 hour day. *Laughing* So how do you actually manage to fit all that in? 

Justin: 
So I think that it's very challenging at first to sort of adjust to the... I guess it’s such a big contrast between what you do in year one and year two and then as you enter clerkship it almost feels like it's the expectations that people have of you is kind of insurmountable that increases exponentially. But I think that every single person, for the most part, understands that you're like you're there first and they understand that it's really hard to adjust and so like everyone is very accommodating for you and helps you and supports you which sort of makes those long days easier. You are always on a team and you have like other classmates to help support you through this as well. But, honestly it's like truly a marathon - like you do have most holidays, and you do go home and do spend that remaining day like resting up and everything like that. But, definitely as the year goes by you certainly get more and more tired and you enjoy the time that you have off because it helps you recover, I guess.  

Aimee: 
And so I know the first couple years you do some rotations so does it help you build up to this because you're heading into it clerkship, coming up? Now hearing this are you nervous or do you feel like you've been prepared, building up over your first two years in med school - that you're ready for this? You know what's coming. You know it's going to be long days but you're like - let's just jump right in.  

Amita: 
I'm actually really looking forward to it, as sadistic as that sounds. Yeah I think when you sign up for medicine, again... like I said, it's not news that you have to work really really hard. And although I'm not particularly pumped to be awake for like 30 hours at a time or whatever that might be, I do think that having spoken to friends in upper years or having friends who've done medicine, everybody kind of describes something similar. You're all in it together. Everybody's... *Laughing*  

Aimee: 
*Laughing* We are just having some light issues, its after hours in the office the lights do some crazy things.  

Amita: 
I just, I guess, this might vary from person to person but I find that... The anxiety is already going to be there, everybody is pretty stressed out. So the time that I do have, I'd like to avoid channelling more anxiety into the world when I can just be like "OK it is what it is, it's going to be challenging I'm gonna do my best to keep on top of laundry and working out and if I can't I can't." But I'm not... it's going to be hard, but I'm not terrified, I'm actually really excited.  

Aimee: 
Awesome. Reza, do you have any... did you know this was coming up,  going into first year what second and third year look like? I know a lot of students I have spoken with kind of know what the first two years look like, but then third and fourth year they just they don't know what to expect. They have nothing, you know, no expectations of it. So, any insight on that? 

Reza: 
So, I heard like rumours before, but I was so disconnected from actually getting insight from people in medicine before, that I didn't really know what to expect exactly. I knew it had to do with, like, rotations and clerks, clerkships like what it involved. But I didn't recognize the hours you had to spend, like twenty six hours without sleep. But after hearing it, I mean, I was shocked at first but then, you know, you grow to adapt and you learn and I wasn't terrified about it because I realized that other people have done it. It's been done. It's clearly doable. And, like, what's stopping me from being able to do it if someone else can do it as well. So, realistically I'm excited for the work and what it entails and everything that it can provide for me as an individual that I think some of those little sacrifices like sleep... Can be made up.  

Aimee: 
Minor sacrifices. *laughing*

Reza: 
Minor sacrifices, yes. *laughing*  

Aimee: 
Well, that sounds like a great way to look at that. So I want to jump in kind of the other side... So, sort of the social side of med school. Because obviously, you guys need to stay sane, but that you're also in other ways networking, building your career throughout this way. So have you guys gotten involved in clubs, societies, advocacy anything like that? Is that the best way to make new friends if you're moving to a new city and meet new people? What kind of advice do you have for anyone who's going to med school in a new city?  

Reza: 
I'm not from Toronto, no.  

Amita: 
I grew up here. So yeah.  

Aimee: 
That's fine. I mean you're involved in something, you mentioned advocacy programs and stuff, so... 

Amita: 
Yeah, I was very interested... What drew me to medicine was kind of the social work component of it. So, towards the end of my first year and more into my second year I got involved with a group at U of T that works with municipal levels of government to effect some change and I thought that was really helpful for me as I met... again, and meet people who otherwise I might not have met in other years for example and also personally. I guess we'll get to it later, but just amidst this tsunami that is medicine, sometimes it's... sometimes you might lose sight, or at least I did, like why am I doing all this? This is, you know, when you're trying to memorize every single fissure in the brain, you're like why? And it's nice to kind of go back into the real world and work with politicians, for example, or doctors who are on the frontlines, doing this sort of work that I want to do. So yeah, I would say advocacy was a great way to meet like-minded people and also just be reminded as to where our role as healthcare providers play into the cog system of politics and social services and are based in the grand scheme of it.  

Reza: 
And, so I wasn't from Toronto, so coming here, I had to make new friends and clubs are a great way to do that. But I'll add this. I remember... It was like one of the first weeks of school, we had a club fair and they just showed us all of these clubs. I think I threw my email to 20 different clubs and I'm still getting some emails from these clubs that I've never even been to. And it can be a little bit overwhelming when you enter, because like before medicine a lot of us do like a lot of extracurricular work and we're trying to get involved in a lot of things so that we stand out. But medicine itself is so demanding that if you still have that constant pressure of "OK I need to do all this stuff." Then you can fall behind in what's actually important, which is studying the medicine and learning the content and material. So I think you're going to be thrown a lot of things at first and I think it's important to really think about what are you most interested in and what are you going to gain the most from. And you have to learn to say no to a lot of things, because otherwise, there's not enough hours in the day or the week to do everything and you have to just kind of pick and choose what you're interested in. For me, I got involved, well... I run my own blog on the side just to kind of keep myself active it's Med Student Gunner - it's to provide advice to students.  

Aimee: 
We can link that in the webinar, you guys should check it out. It's a great resource for first year. 

Reza: 
So I write that and kind of like the creative aspect of writing but I also recently got involved also in advocacy work. I work with a black medical student association of U of T. I'm an ally, and I work with them for their social media to help build the website promotion, and I just like getting involved with things that I was really passionate about and also just recognizing that you know there's.. I don't need to do this just for the sake of checking off boxes. I want to just do what's important to me and keep my days for myself still.  

Aimee: 
Yep. What's important, like you said, in undergrad you're building up your extracurriculars, to kind of stand out. Now that you're in medicine, you can focus on what's important to you, the clubs that are going to build your network and keep you sane and that sort of thing. Justin, you're probably the one who's taken on the most in the social societies and all that stuff. Can you give us a bit of background? 

Justin: 
So, I think that getting involved socially in medicine is super important. I'm not from Toronto originally either and I didn't know many people coming to U of T. And so I think that is, like everyone said, a very great way to get involved and  meet new people and sort of establish connections, especially when you're in a semi-isolated time like third year. It's a really nice thing to look back on the things you've done and the friends that you've made and try to maintain those connections. But in terms of what I have done in medical school, so I am one of the class presidents for my year, there's two class presidents per year. I will be the class president for a full four years of medical schools, for all of it, and with that there's a lot of advocacy that I do on behalf of students, a lot of quality improvement of the curriculum, getting involved in things such as like the accreditation process. I'm also a member of the medical society of U of T  for all four years just by virtue of being one of the class presidents and I'm also really passionate about advocacy, as well and so in my first year I did a bunch of that stuff. I also really like sort of like, musicals and stuff, and so in my second year I produced Daffodil, for the medical school charity.  Yeah, yeah *Laughing* With one of my good friends and so I think that... There's definitely time to do everything that you want to do, but don't bite off more than you can chew. Definitely.  

Aimee: 
And you're only sacrificing small things like sleep, right? 

Justin: 
100%. I think that one of the reasons why I want to get involved is because, like, medical school is a lot of fun, like, socially and it feels very freeing after achieving so much and getting in. To just sort of, like, let go of all that. *unintelligible* 

Amita: 
Him and I actually met through the Biomedical Student Association, as well actually. Otherwise, we wouldn't have crossed paths. There's so many... there's 200 plus people each year.  

Reza: 
Each year. Between 250 to 260, something like that.  

Amita: 
But if I can actually add to that. I think in my... I just don't mean to overrun my time... But I think... It's almost like the ebb and flow of it is super important to get to know your colleagues and the support system around you. And I think in my first year, I had a bit of a challenge because I wanted to really maintain my friendships outside of school and, because I grew up here, and I've been living in Toronto, I wasn't moving to new city, I was in the same apartment and I just switched from one career into medicine. And I think in my first year I was really trying to maintain those relationships outside of school, which I did, but sometimes it comes at the expense of being close to people in your program. And when the going gets tough in your second year and third year I really then began to appreciate the friends that I had in medicine actually can... it's really nice to unpack with your friends in medicine, the situations that you might not be able to unpack with your partner, or your friends outside of medicine no matter how close you are. Because at the end of the day if you have a challenging experience dissecting a cadaver that day and it strikes you personally, or you're in the psych ward for example, it's... people can empathize, and... With your classmates, it's a lot... it is really helpful to do that. But at the same time if you do kind of get too head-first right into medicine and join every club and only make time for that, it can be difficult to kind of just remind yourself of the world outside. So even joining like a ping pong club like an open in your community, or something outside of medicine can really help, a soccer club that's not affiliated with the university or...  the museums or something nearby helps.

Aimee: 
So that was actually a perfect segue into my next question. So, is it true that in med school you don't have a social life and don't have any time for anything else besides studying, and how do you fit in time for stuff like grocery shopping, laundry, going to the gym, going to yoga, seeing your family and spending time with your non-medical friends? So obviously we just kind of heard from you Amita... Any insights from you, Justin? 

Justin: 
Do you want to... or...  

Reza: 
I was just gonna say scheduling. Honestly, like, if you just schedule your time you chunk off times of the day, like, "OK tomorrow I'm going to wake up at this time, I'm going to do groceries between this and this, I'm going to study between these hours." Kind of treat medical school kind of like a job where you're like "OK between these hours maybe every day or something or every Monday or every Tuesday, I'm going to be studying and then I'm going to do groceries every this day, that day", and make it flexible obviously because things will come up and things change. But you... medical school, you can definitely have a life. There's definitely time for hanging out with friends. It's a lot of work, but if you're efficient with your time - calling your parents while you're walking to the grocery store or walking home from school - you know, finding little ways to save time. You know cooking in bulk, so that you do have to cook every day, finding ways to do that, you can save a lot of time and you can still definitely have a social life, for sure.  

Justin: 
I echo that. I mean, I think that, I'm not, like, as rigid in my personal scheduling now just because I think that I never really know what's going to happen in a day, but I think that even in third year or fourth year it's very much doable to have a social life and to enjoy things. And I think that you have to be forgiving with yourself and to really not be too hard on yourself and are sort of like "oh like tonight, I'm really tired, I don't want to study." Doing things like that. Like, making a conscious effort to sort of, like, hang out with friends rather than staying inside because at least for me personally in the long run like interacting with people and seeing people I haven't seen in a long time is more worth it to me than staying inside, never going out of the library studying for one extra thing. Yeah, I call my parents all the time when I'm walking home.  

Amita: 
Oh yeah. *Laughing* I do it when I’m biking, and people think I’m talking to them. *Laughing* 

Aimee: 
So I think it kind of falls in the same question. How much downtime do you have? Or better yet, do you actually have any downtime? And what do you do to kind of keep yourself grounded? 

Justin: 
Yeah, you definitely have downtime. I think... just for example, like, I do like post call days like sometimes, it's like downtime, it’s time that I use to recover, to get my groceries or cook or just things that I sort of need to do that I may not have time for the rest of the week. Like, weekends that you're not on call, are times that I, more often than, not go outside, have fun, do things like that. And I think my social network, or my support network outside of medicine really help me to keep grounded. I think that although my classmates considerably, we have a special connection in that we are going through the same experiences, I think that talking to my friends outside of medicine and my family really puts things in perspective and helps me to sort of see the bigger picture of things. You feel like... you become so involved and so immersed in something and you can kind of lose yourself at certain times, so I think that's what keeps me grounded.  

Amita: 
I think to echo what both of you said, but that you mentioned scheduling being super important, I think you can definitely have downtime but a lot of it does boil down to... this is from someone who is self-proclaimed not very good with time... I've really, it's been probably my life's work to learn to be better with time. But I've definitely seen a huge improvement over the past two years, just by being surrounded by people and looking at their tips and their ways that they stay on top of things. So I don't know what it's called, but it's like that equation - it's like work expands to fit time, have you heard of that? Maybe I'm paraphrasing, but yeah. So for me I'll say "OK I haven't..." I don't know, there's a band playing, we're in Toronto, there's concerts and things happening all the time, like there's so much to do. So I find I'm more productive if I say "OK at eight thirty, I'm going to stop studying, I'm gonna go grab a pint and go watch this band and I'm going enjoy the rest the evening." I find I'm much more productive earlier in the day instead of me saying" oh I can actually stay and work until 11:00 tonight." So I find, yes, you can have downtime but you really do need to go out of your way and make it a priority to make your schedule. So, like sometimes I'll send iCal invites out to my friends in medicine because I know they're busy and they'll be like "I thought we were meeting for coffee and they'll get a little e-mail from me." I know somebody who's sending iCal invites for Tinder dates, so that's its own story. *Laughing* But either way, scheduling is really... time management.  

Aimee: 
Schedule your own downtime.  

Amita:
So you can absolutely have downtime. And that whole not sleeping and not seeing your friends, that's... no.  

Aimee: 
You're sending your iCal invites to sleep too? *Laughing* 

Amita: 
No, I just know I can't operate on less than 7-8 hours. *Laughing* Well next year is different, but... 

Reza: 
Yeah, iCal invites for dates...is... 

Amita: 
That wasn't me, but it's very creative. 

Reza: 
I did that. Yeah. But no, that's 100% true... the Google calendar... I'm not affiliated with Google in any way, shape or form or whatever calendar program you want to use, but like online calendars, just it's... If I don't have my phone, I don't know where I'm going. Yeah exactly. I just, my class schedule's on there. I put in my free time in there sometimes. I'll put in, like "oh between these blocks I'm meeting with this person, have a talk with this person or..." Just scheduling is key, and pretty much echoing... I liked what you said about like having pressure on for yourself. So, like studying for like say eight hours, you're gonna say "I'm done by 9:00 pm" then like you constantly can look at the clock and you're like "OK I have this much more time, I've got to keep going. I can't just stop". But if I'm like "I have the whole day to study" then you know, I'm like, on my phone just looking,  I'm like "Oh yeah I have plenty of time I have so much time and I'm like I'm like oh" *unintelligible*. No, we're not going to get into the details, but alas, reiterating... You can find downtime just by being efficient with your time, finding little tips and tricks and ways of, like, making yourself more efficient and really prioritizing your... both your schoolwork and your free time. Because free time is important. It's important to have, but you still need to get your stuff done. It's a balance. It's a balancing act. 

Aimee: 
All right. So we're gonna jump back into some heavy hitting questions. So... What would you guys say is your biggest source of stress as a med student and how do you manage it? *Pause* No stress in med school?  

Reza: 
No. There's just so much - we're like "All right. What is the biggest, what's the biggest”, you know. *Unintelligible* *Laughter* 

Reza: 
I don't know about you guys but, like, for me it's the uncertainty and my line of credit. *Laughter* so like just knowing that like, I don't know where I'm gonna be in three years’ time, you know. I don't know where... if I'll match residency and if I do, where I'll be. You know, I could be in B.C., I could be in Toronto I could be... It's really hard to, like, kind of plan your life around that and you also don't even know what specialty you're gonna end up in. And then even when you do get a specialty, let's say you go into internal medicine, you don't know what subspecialty you're gonna match. And then like let's say you do that, you don't know what fellowship you're gonna do. You really have no idea. And like every time I go... People are like "Oh what kind of doctor are you gonna be?" Like every time I go see family, I'm like "Listen, I don't even know. I'll let you know in like three years." And it's just kind of like the uncertainty is something you learn to live with. But it's definitely this... a hanging mass of stress, that is kind of lingering. And your line of credit and you're just like "oh OK well I hope I get a job so this can go away."  

Justin: 
I agree with that. I also think at least, like especially in third year and fourth year, like, the whole performative aspect of, sort of like, clerkship is really stressful because you feel like: one, like everything is so uncertain, you don't know where you're going to be, but like you have this really intense pressure to perform well and impress people. Which at most times is, like, irrational and it's kind of the system that we're in, the different perceptions that we have in the hierarchy that you, kind of, will be entering. And so I think that, at least at my stage, is something that stresses myself out and a lot of my classmates out as well. *unintelligible* 

Amita: 
I would say performing is one of the things I get concerned about. Not so much in terms of the grades... I don't know, how all med schools do this but at least in U of T, you meet a cut off and then you're... It's pass/fail. I think it's more so: have I grasped this content enough and done it justice so that when I do see, you know, in clerkship when I am working up like a patient - who is somebody's brother, mother, sister, whatever - that I am well versed enough. I think that's kind of the most pressure that I feel because in that eternal pursuit of trying to find a balance and - "ok, I need to study but also make time to do this" - sometimes I think should I be buckling down on like the other things that I want to do if this means that I'll have better medical knowledge. Because at the end of the day, people are trusting us with their care and is me going out for the concert or with me not knowing how to read this test that well...does that make sense? So I think, yeah, I think just trying to balance that aspect, if that makes sense. Then, like financial... Financial is also its own stresser. You see all those zeros on your line of credit you think "oh that's a lot of money."  

Aimee: 
Well, that's what Liz and I are here to help you guys out with. So, obviously MD Financial... We are here to help you with financial education and help you guys graduate in the best position as possible. So Liz works with U of T, and I work with a bunch of other med schools. We have a whole team across the country that helps with this, so any questions you have, so you guys are less stressed about your financial situation, you can come to us for that. 

Aimee: 
Now, going back to what you guys were talking about - the performance side of things - I've heard that med school is kind of internally competitive. Do you have any thoughts on that? 

Justin: 
I mean, I held that perspective entering medical school but I think that I was... It was quite the opposite, at least from my experience. I think that, yeah no, I don't think there's much internal competitiveness. Regardless of people wanting to pursue *unintelligible*, regardless of how limited or competitive that specialty may be. Just because I think that the need for support from one another is more important than the competition aspect. But I also think that there's enough opportunity in whichever space you're in, to pursue you're passionate about and even if, like, let's say that you want the same thing at the end of the day, or the same specialty at the end of the day, that means different things to different people and I think that you kind of see that as you progress in medical school.  

Amita: 
I've heard things about other universities in undergrad and you hear kind of horror stories with people sabotaging their peers. But I haven't experienced anything like that in med school and I would say people are generally quite supportive. But I would say the one thing that I do notice in medicine is that almost like a bit of fear mongering happens, like, if people know oh this block is going to be really difficult, it's almost hyping it up because you've heard from some upper years that it's difficult. It's almost getting stressed out before it's even begun. Which as you see happens with clerkship too, people say it's this big monster, but people get through it for the most part, right. So, yeah, I wouldn't say it's particularly internally competitive in that sense but you sometimes do need to put on blinders or earmuffs and just not really listen to other people's concerns. I catch myself saying that... "oh maybe I should be worried about that", but I don’t need to care about this. I have a hundred other things to think about.  

Aimee: 
So have you guys decided at all, what kind of specialty you wanna go into? When typically would a med student kind of start thinking about that? You mentioned in first year you still have no clue yet. Obviously, you're in clerkship, so have you kind of streamlined? Is there a time where the school kind of helps you navigate a certain way or a way to determine from your interests... how do you guys choose your specialty? Or does the specialty choose you? 

Justin: 
A bit of both, I guess.  

Reza: 
Do you guys know what you're interested in?  

Justin: 
I mean I think that you definitely have more of an inkling in clerkship. I mean, you have to just because everything's coming up but I think that at least for like a lot of people in my class, we, a lot of people had sort of, like... Not many people have changed drastically what they want to do but like a lot of people have certainly been surprised at what they've liked and that has sort of changed what they want to do, so I think that you do not need to know what you want to do certainly by this point. You should have a couple options open, but I think that clerkship really helps inform your likes and dislikes and even doing different things like research or other activities and something or shadowing that profession definitely can sort of give you a glimpse of what that really is. But at least you at U of T, there are different sort of like career exploration courses in place to help you achieve that.  

Amita: 
And U of T encourages shadowing.  

Reza: 
Shadowing is huge. It's huge. I did an insane amount of shadowing, for sure. I did a hundred and ten hours which is a way more than most of my peers, because I am... Two things: one, I'm a little bit neurotic; two, I had no family in medicine so I didn't really know what the different specialties were like. So I did, like, a lot at the start and throughout to really figure out where I fit into and... I narrowed down, I ruled out mainly and I kept a few that I found interesting. I think right now internal medicine is like something that I'm more drawn to, but within that I have no idea what subspecialty. But this is all very, very preliminary because it's only first year and I think clerkship - when you're actually working there like full - that's when you really figure it out. And I think it's important to come into medicine with an open mind because you'll be shocked when you're... how your opinion will shift... In my opinion, anyways.  

Amita: 
Yeah. Clerkship is what people often say is... you see that you can romanticize certain fields and then you see the hours, or the lifestyle or the environment, and that can colour it. So I I would say probably shadowing and clerkship is what people often say to figure out your career. I think I want to do family medicine. I thought that before coming into medicine and it's only gotten more and more definitive as time has progressed, but a lot of my friends are kind of still undifferentiated and, who knows, maybe in clerkship I'll change my mind.  

Aimee: 
Awesome. What was one of the toughest things that you've gone through med school and what kind of helped you get through that? This is another area where there's so many or it's just kind of a gradual, everything kind of came as one obstacle and then you tackle that and got to the next one... is there anything that really stuck out, or...? 

Amita: 
Well for me, it was my mental health. The reason it took so long to discuss it again, is ironically, is what builds into it, is there is this really hidden kind of culture of people who are experiencing so many things behind closed doors and not talking about it. And when I was in undergrad, I experienced something similar and I was really lucky that there was resources to kind of work through it. So at the beginning of my second year when I wasn't doing well I had the resources and the knowledge to talk about it and I was pretty forthright with my peers and what was really frustrating and challenging and disheartening for me was to see that there are so many people who would experience what I was experiencing but to a much worse extent and who'd never even mentioned it, not gotten help or anything like that. There is a most definite... I don't mean to cast a negative shadow on medicine... but there is 100 percent, this looming notion of mental health and if you look at the statistics - I don't want anyone to get into it and  be too inflammatory, but - yeah a lot of people report really negative mental health and not getting sleep for 30 hours doesn't help. And it also doesn't help when you think you're the only one going through it. So I would say that was my biggest challenge, was having a... basically a depressive episode in my second year, in the beginning of my second year. I had the resources and the tools to navigate it, but my heart really breaks for people who don't feel like they have the tools, or don't have family nearby or... don't even realize what they're experiencing because it is so insidious. But the truth is it this happens to so many people that we should recognize it more.  

Aimee: 
Well, that's really admirable that you brought that up and it is true. It is something that's known that med students do have a very stressful time. There's a lot of mental health issues. Is there anything you can recommend or resources that they can reach out to or, kind of, what was your point that really got you through it and passed it and able to address it? 

Amita: 
Well, I think because I'd experienced this once before, I had kind of gone through the ropes in undergrad, and I was thinking "ok do I need to take time off? What do I do?" So I already kind of knew the scaffolding and I applied it from McMaster to U of T. But I would say going to, like, the Office of Professional Health, going out and just being forthright because, again the number of people who are like "oh my god, so many people come here. So..." So many of our colleagues and peers see these resources and just keep it hush hush. So I would say, first thing is recognizing that something's up, whether that's losing your appetite, losing your sleep... It's not like you'll wake up one day and feel... It's not like a thunderclap. It's a very slow onset. So I'd say being aware of any changes in yourself, telling somebody close to you that you trust and honestly going to that professional, like, the Office of Professional Health, sooner than later because extensions and concessions can be made, but you just have to bring it up. Which is challenging, but... 

Justin: 
Going off that... definitely something similar happened to me in first year, and I accessed the Office of Health Professions and they connected me to a community psychologist. And so there's so many different resources that your specific school can help you with, if you do feel the need that you, for help or if you're struggling in any way. 

Aimee: 
So make sure you're reaching out and reaching out before it gets, the second, you said... When you notice changes before it gets escalated, reach out, stay on top of it. That's great advice.  

Reza: 
Take care of each other as well, you're going to make some friends early in first year, and I think it's important to reach out to your peers. Ask them how they're doing and just like talk within each other and just support each other in whatever way you can. For me, the most difficult thing wasn't one isolated incident. It was kind of the first six months or so of medicine. There's kind of adjusting because I moved and like my dog wasn't with me. But also, you know, I had a really good group of friends in undergrad that I really connected with. But they're still finishing up their fourth year, while I went, when I moved away for medicine so I was like the only one who left and then most my friends are still back home and my family's back home and it's not super, super close... Like I was from Ottawa, so I'm fortunate that it's close enough but it's still not that close that I can just go every weekend, or if I'm just like "oh now I want to go home, you know have some of my mom's cooking." Like no, it’s not an option.  

Amita: 
Let’s go back for laundry! 

Reza:
Having chicken breasts and rice with some veggies for the fifth time in a row. But no, I think like mental health was the big thing for me, just kind of like the gradual adjustment. And like I said reaching out for help from your peers and also reaching out to your peers to make sure that they're OK. These people won't always reach out and I think it's our duty as, like, professional colleagues to look after each other because medicine has, unfortunately, such a bad rep in the past and it's still, unfortunately, still has this thing, where people think "oh you have that white coat on your invincible and you can't show any signs of weakness", like no we're all human. People will be people.  

Aimee: 
I know, speaking from experience... our job is not quite as stressful as you guys but we have a stressful job and we have our team group chat. And typically once every couple of weeks someone will pipe in and go "Sanity check - how's everyone doing?" And we check in and we're there to support each other. And it is really, really important to find that network, find people who actually reach out say, "Hey how's it going?". And not just on the surface like "Yeah, yeah it's fun, whatever" but like the real… "How are you doing? I know you're stressed and you've got a lot on your plate this week like you know", that kind of thing. Whether they can help you, take something off your plate or not, that's a whole other story, but just addressing it and having that support group there and making sure that you're doing it for others as well. That's really, really important.  

Aimee: 
Now, to talk to a couple lighter questions, before we wrap up... So you guys have all seen onboardMD, the website. Can you let me know something that really jumped out, stuck... it was really cool that you were like "Wow I wish I had this when I was into pre-med or even now, that you're like, I'm probably going to use this tool". what was exciting? 

Justin: 
The specialty comparisons tool. I just learned about onboardMD and for someone in the later stages of the medical school, it's really cool to compare different specialties and like have things listed like the average salary across Canada and break it down by province because things like that aren't really, sort of talked about, and you don't really know, sort of, what you're getting into if you actually enter a specialty. And so that was cool for it to be all in one place and sort of broken down like that.  

Amita: 
The user interface is so good. This is not sponsored or anything. It’s honestly great!  

Aimee: 
Well, it kind of is! *laughing*  

Amita: 
*Laughing* Oh I guess, but we are not being told to say good things, it's actually great. Like, I remember when I was applying to medical school, I had 1000 tabs open so many Microsoft word docs open, trying to compare UBC versus Mac versus requirements and this just takes hours out of your already stressful pursuit to medicine. So I'd say, yeah, there's all this stuff in one source that you know is stressful.  

Reza: 
Yeah. The user interface is beautiful and it just looks nice and it's easy to navigate. It's very user friendly which is good. And I just like the whole going through your journey where it just shows me checkmarks. I mean like it just kind of goes, it's so easy, you just go and you're like "Oh cool. First year, second year. Like here's all the things that are going on and then like PGY like two plus like early career." Just kind of like shows you and kind of shows you like what's there to come. But like overall, like the website just looks really pretty as well.  

Aimee: 
So just wait till the app comes out. It's really cool, I got to play on that last week. It's really, really fun. The journey tool is next level. Yeah, stay tuned for that. So again from our five questions. Is there anything you guys would've done differently in your first year? For all of those jumping into first year coming up in September?  

Reza: 
Do differently in first year? *unintelligible* *laughter* 

Reza: 
I mean, so many things. I think, like, just starting earlier with building networks and talking with people and getting advice earlier from upper years and residents, physician. I started doing that stuff kind of a little bit later and I found that super, super helpful because especially finding connections with people in different stages of your career that you will actually find because you talk with a clerk, they're going to give you search certain pieces of information that would be very pertinent because it's so close, and then you talk with a resident, they're going to give you other pieces of information based on where they're at. And then you speak with a physician, they give you more things, more information, but just like building a network and speaking with people earlier to really get more of a sense of everything. Kind of be able to build your framework of what medicine is and what your goals are and how to get there. So just doing that earlier.  

Aimee: 
Amita, I'm gonna go to jump to you since your second year.  

Amita: 
Yeah. No, I actually do agree with that very much in terms of especially with aspects like mentorship and seeing... Really finding somebody, whether they have a career that you would like to kind of emulate, or from a background similar to yours that might not be represented... Like it's, it's mentorship is really, really helpful and I didn't start really more actively pursuing that until later on in my first year. So it would be nice to... it's nice to see somebody doing something, so it kind of helps you aspire towards it as well.  

Aimee: 
Does the school have any resources to kind of, line you up with mentors, or how does that work to kind of like... How would someone start that earlier on? Because I'm sure you only found out about that a bit later on in the stage.  

Reza: 
Honestly, just email people that you find interesting, because there's a lot of programs that set you up with people but some of the best mentors that I have were just from cold emails being like "Hey I'm interested in what you do. Can I talk with you?", meet with them for coffee and then it just kind of, if they, if you feel a connection, you feel like you learned a lot from them, and they agree to it, you can keep going.

Aimee: 
Do you find a lot of them from either the older classes or residents or physicians - especially residents, because I'm sure their schedules are crazy - are they willing to help out med students?  

Justin:
Yeah.  

Amita: 
Yep.  

Reza: 
Yeah. Super nice. Everyone is so nice.  

Amita: 
They are very willing to help med students, yeah. 

Aimee: 
I know your first year was a couple years ago now, but anything you would've done differently. *unintelligible* 

Justin: 
I think *laughter* I think that I definitely agree with the mentorship because I think that's something that, you don't really necessarily think about and time flies really quickly and all of sudden you're like "oh I want to know more about something, but how do I sort of navigate that?" But I also think there's such a forward pressure that that I wish I sort of went with my own pace and flow and sort of like did things that I wanted to do rather than sort of thinking "oh my gosh someone else is doing that, or oh all those people are doing that, I don't want to fall back, I need to catch up with them." Yeah, so just sort of like... It's being in tune with yourself and what you want.  

Amita: 
Put on the blinders. 

Reza: 
That's good. You're gonna feel this, where you're gonna look at everyone like everyone is doing everything, and I'm not doing anything. It's OK, because you're doing things you just don't recognize what you're doing, and you only look at different things that everyone else is doing in isolation and remember, like, you don't need to do everything. It's fine. Med school itself is enough. You don't need to take on a million things just do things that you're interested in.  

Amita: 
Yeah, I, 100 percent, I think once you're in this class... If you had told me when I was like 17, 18 I'd be sitting in U of T medical school halfway through, I would not have believed you, right? Again, when you're... You know when you're in the kind of flow of it, you sometimes forget. So if you do... it's easy when you're around people to just look over your shoulder and say "oh everyone is doing this this and that and saving the world and curing this." But you know, at the end of the day getting in is such a huge achievement and I think you need to have a bit more faith in your own faculties and what's gotten you there and... Just constantly comparing yourself, it's easier said than done especially in like Instagram culture. But yeah, if you start noticing things stressing out just be like "Yo I got into med school." It's hard, it is hard. So, yeah.  

Aimee: 
Awesome. So... Last hard-hitting question - is there anything that you wish you'd done your last summer before starting med school? 

Amita: 
Yeah, like done differently or...  

Aimee: 
Just like something fun, hang out with your friends. Kind of blow some steam before med school or on the flipside, like getting ready to go into Med school - is there anything you wish you'd done differently? Did you..  

Reza: 
If any of you were thinking of studying, please don't do it. Don't do it. I mean, I didn't and I'm really, really happy. I kept reading don't study before medical school. Don't do it. And I'm like "Okay you know what, if everyone's saying it, like it's probably true" and I'm really happy I didn't. I had a job and I don't regret the job because I learned a lot from and it was flexible. If I could go back, maybe I'd travel a little bit more but, eh, I had a pretty good summer before.  

Justin: 
I worked to fund a trip to South Korea and my first day of orientation, I was jet-lagged. I do not regret anything *laughter*  

Amita: 
Yeah, I agree. I went traveling for a bit too and I worked a little bit as well. Yeah, I would say, yeah... They say "lifelong learning" for a reason. You will be studying hopefully as a doctor as well keeping up with the literature, you have the rest of your life to study. Take some time off. This doesn't necessarily mean you have to travel all over the world but travel within your means and enjoy it.  

Reza: 
Just do something that's fun, I watched a month... In a month I finished all of the Naruto, like the anime. I was just like, waking up, watching it, like just like completely wasting time. But it was great like I had a great time, you know.  

Amita: 
Yeah, enjoy that wasted time. Watch all of Game of Thrones in a day, three days if you can. Set a personal goal and smash it. Watch Naruto *Laughter* 

Reza: 
Yeah, in a month. If you can beat, that please let me know. *Laughter* 

Amita: 
*Laughter* Aspire to be the best version of yourself.  

Aimee: 
Hopefully, you guys are taking notes. Relax, spend your summer just chill. Don't stress, don't study. So, that seems to be all the time we have tonight. I feel like that just flew by. I feel like you guys could keep talking forever. I want to thank you guys so much for coming out and helping with this webinar. I hope you guys at home really enjoyed it, I want to thank you guys, all of our viewers. For those of you guys that submitted a question, that was great.  

Aimee: 
We will be sending out a short survey just to see what you guys thought of tonight's session. We do love feedback. As I mentioned earlier, onboardMD is a small team that's focused solely on building up this website and we want to focus on delivering the best information to you guys as physicians, so we're always looking for new ways to hit you with the good stuff. If you have any questions you can submit them on that survey. Remember to check out onboardMD.com for all the updates and stay tuned for our app launching soon. To finish off the session, we did talk to a bunch of current med students at the Med games in Montreal this January and we did put together a video that we will show for you guys. So we hope you enjoy it, and we just wanna say thanks. Thank you, Justin, Amita, and Reza and thank you, everyone - have a good night! 

onboardMD video: 
Something that really surprised me coming into med school is... That surprised me. I guess what surprised me most is... Oh. That's a hard one. It shocked me how much you're capable of learning when you really, like, apply yourself. Like I wouldn't think it would be possible to learn as much as we do in a day or a week or a block. Actually the patient interaction that I wasn't really expecting to have starting in the first year and that's something really incredible because you get this connection while you talk with the patient that you couldn't really get in other domain. I'm amazed by my classmates. The people are amazing. A lot of great people in medicine and, like, in med school. Everyone is so good and so talented. All the professors. All the administrators are so welcoming and they're so helpful. Everybody's there because they want to make sure that you pass because they want to make sure that everybody becomes a great doctor. And everybody is just so helpful and we became really close despite being a very big cohort. It's really... you create sort of a big community and a family, and that's something that I didn't really expect. I expected people that weren't as outgoing and social and fun. You know you expect a bunch of nerds that are just in their books, you know. I personally believe if there's one discipline in the world that needs the most amount of cooperation is medicine because you know you're literally, hopefully not playing but saving people's lives so that cooperation is extremely important. And I see that all around. I'm in love.  

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