Arnav Agarwal is an Internal Medicine Resident (R1) at the University of Toronto. Check back the last Thursday of each month for a new featured piece as part of his series (Doc Talks: Reflections to Reality)!
Arnav Agarwal, CC3. I starkly recall etching those three words as I signed off on my first clinical note on a warm September morning. I wish this could be in pencil, I remember thinking. The idea of permanently associating my identity with a patient’s story and offering a proposed impression and plan felt outlandish — I barely had my own impression and plan figured out. How was I going to help patients and make a difference when I could hardly find my way to the right area of the hospital for my first day? And, a more weighted question: could I really practice medicine?
Indeed, the two years that followed were defined by gruelling academic intensity unparalleled by the prior two years of pre-clerkship. A rigorous clinical schedule was now paired with the expectation to prove theoretical capabilities every six to eight weeks. Uncountable sleepless overnight shifts on-call were matched by long days and weekend shifts. The unwavering anticipation of new learning experiences was paralleled by the uncomfortable sense of needing to constantly impress those around us and hold our own in a seemingly foreign environment. ...continue reading
Sabrina Slade is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at Queen's University
Let me preface this by saying I am the kind of person who uses sarcasm and humour as a form of coping, and these opinions are my own.
You I have cancer.
A phrase I never could have dreamt would come out of my mouth, yet something I see or speak about almost every day in my so far short-lived medical career.
It’s the last week of June; I’ve just started my internal medicine rotation in Toronto and am rushing to get ready as I have slept through all seven of my alarms. I glance at my phone, noticing three missed calls and a voicemail with a little urgent symbol beside it. It’s my family doctor’s office; I listen to the voicemail half-heartedly as I struggle to pull on my nylons. She says something about biopsy results, and the words “neoplasia” and “urgent referral” stop me cold. I shimmy over to my phone, my nylons awkwardly half on, and hit replay. ...continue reading
Mohammad Jay is a medical student in the Class of 2020 at the University of Ottawa
As you open this letter, you will have completed the first day of your orientation week. You’re sunburnt and tired, but beaming with excitement. You have met so many people and revelled in your shared enthusiasm about medical school. Remember to hold on to this excitement — not just today, but for the rest of your medical journey.
Although much of this journey will be rewarding and filled with exhilaration, there are going to be days when you’ll feel inadequate, exhausted, or frustrated. Remember the excitement of the first day of O-week during these difficult times. Open your admission email and replay the screams of excitement and the hugs from your family and friends. Despite the challenges of medical training, you are privileged to be on this journey. Remember that you are training to save lives. What could be a greater honour than this? ...continue reading
Laura Kim is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at the University of British Columbia
I’m a 3rd year medical student.
But I’m not just a medical student. Before August 2015, I had a life that was full and rich and medicine-free. Today, my life is no longer medicine-free — but I refuse to allow it to be any less full or rich.
I’m not just a med student.
I’m a pediatrics gunner, a student politics junkie, and a francophone-wannabe.
I’m a dancer, a baker, and a knitter.
I’m a Harry Potter-fanatic, a Sav Blanc expert, and a nap-connoisseuse.
I’m a loving girlfriend, an overbearing older sister, and a fierce friend.
I’m loyal, compassionate, caring, sarcastic, and (often) a hot mess.
I’m a poor parallel parker, a clumsy clerk, and a top-notch procrastinator. ...continue reading
Hassan Hazari is a medical student in the Class of 2020 at Queen's University
The inclusion of arts and humanities in medical curricula has been a standard part of the student’s learning experience since the 1990s. The arts are credited with nurturing the skills and attitudes necessary for meaningful human interaction and personal development. McMaster University’s “Art of Seeing” program demonstrated that an arts-based curriculum promoted empathic development (Zazulak et al., 2017). The visual arts are a particular area of focus, as studying visual art not only has humanistic value but has also been shown to improve technical skills such as observation. Art-making (distinct from art observation) has been shown to foster humanistic and advocacy-orientated inclinations as well as promote learning in medical students (Cox et al., 2016; Courneya, 2017).
Among the workshops, talks, and meetings at this year’s Canadian Conference on Medical Education (CCME), there was a room that was transformed into an art gallery. ...continue reading
Imaan Javeed is a medical student at the University of Toronto
On Monday, April 23, while driving on Yonge Street near Finch Avenue in Toronto, it's alleged that Alek Minassian whipped the steering wheel of his rented white Ryder van sideways and killed ten innocent, unsuspecting people; physically injured sixteen more; and emotionally scarred hundreds of others. At the time of my writing, a clear motive for these actions has yet to be publicized. Minassian is alive and certainly under investigation, as much as he may have desired otherwise, but there still isn't much we know about the lead-up to the event.
Indeed, much to the dismay of some members of the media, the 'default' assumption quickly turned out to be untrue — there was not a single known link to "jihadist" terrorist groups or foreign radicalization to be found. ...continue reading
Jaya Tanwani is a medical student in the Class of 2020 at the University of Toronto
An interesting experience I had with cultural safety was when I volunteered at medical camps in rural Pakistan at age sixteen. My parents had taken my brother and me back to Pakistan—a country that we belonged to but had never resonated with—to visit our extended family and “get in touch with our roots.” As part of my parents’ efforts to help us become more aware of the privileged North American lives we lived, they insisted that I work with some doctors in running a medical camp. Having been attracted to medicine since I was a child, I leapt at the opportunity… only to shy away from the idea five minutes later when they told me that the medical camps were in rural Pakistan. I was scared. I didn’t want to desert the comforts of urban Pakistan, where McDonald’s and Pizza Hut were a block away and where I could still wear my Canadian attire. I was certainly not comfortable with the idea of working with a group of people so different from myself and so different from the modern, chic Pakistani society that my relatives lived in. ...continue reading
Marc Levin is a medical student in the Class of 2020 at McMaster University
I was always an active kid growing up. In high school, I attended an all-boys prep school. The curriculum was based on the old British system; accordingly, rugby was our main sport. Much to my mother’s dismay and my father’s delight, I started playing rugby in grade nine and went on to play at an international age-grade level.
Rugby was exhilarating. It provided me with a unique opportunity to develop communication skills, passion, emotion, work ethic, and resilience. It gave me the chance to experience raw moments of leadership and comradery. ...continue reading
Lorenzo Madrazo is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at the University of Ottawa
Grade 3 out of 6 systolic—
A harsh tone
I listened to carefully.
Yet I failed to hear
the wearied decrescendo of your sighs;
the pain colouring your voice. ...continue reading
Hong Yu (Andrew) Su is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at Western University
Jessica Chin is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at Western University
Matthew Greenacre is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at Western University
John is a fictitious name given to an elderly gentleman that myself and some of my colleagues visited on a regular basis. John may be one person, but his situation mirrors that of many, many more across the country. In that sense, therefore, John represents not just himself, but a much greater social predicament. This is John’s story. ...continue reading