The Mentorship Spot
Choosing Western Medical Sciences
Updated: Jul 28, 2020
Written By Serene Simran
“I was taught to believe that the reputation of the university was the most important factor in deciding where to go, which is far from the truth.”
Photo from PIXNIO
Choosing a program for university out of numerous possible options can be challenging. Personally, I faced a similar problem a few years ago when I was deciding on a science program. Although I had a vague idea of what I wanted to pursue, the hard part was deciding which university would be the best fit for me. I was taught to believe that the reputation of the university was the most important factor in deciding where to go, which is far from the truth. I eventually realized that atmosphere, residence, and style of learning are equally as important. Understanding the value of multiple different factors, really helped me narrow down my choice of science program to Western Medical Science — one of my best decisions. My choice to attend this school stems from the day I received my acceptance, leading to school tours, and then finally confirming my spot here.
“However, in my experience, every failing moment made me grow as a person, and eventually resulted in success.”
My first year in this program was a humbling and challenging experience, as I grew to appreciate how to be resilient while being driven by learning. For me, the hardest truth I had to accept was that failure is inevitable, and that I have to learn from it by continuing to improve myself and my study habits. I found that I had many resources available to cope with stress, particularly my residence advisors. I would encourage anyone going into first year to reach out to their residence advisors in times of need, as they have invaluable advice to offer about handling stress in university. One specific example that comes to mind when I think of an extremely challenging situation in first year, was when I received my first midterm mark back from a first-year physics course. Being someone who was used to consistently high grades in high school, I was devastated. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of overthinking one grade and start to think of backups right away. However, in my experience, every failing moment made me grow as a person, and eventually resulted in success. The mark I ended up with in that course was one of my highest grades in first year, evidently showing that perseverance is extremely important especially in the rigor of this program.
“At the end of the day, no matter what grade you get, remember that it is only temporary…”
The required courses in first year can be overwhelming, especially if you are used to getting really high grades in high school. In particular, first-year biology teaches you to think and not memorize, which was one of the many challenges I faced. The best advice I can give for handling these courses is to learn the material actively — meaning it would be best to make tables, draw diagrams while trying to make sense of what each component is doing, and try explaining things to other people. Making condensed notes is also very helpful, as this helps you to solidify the content while thinking critically about the information. Asking for help when you need it is crucial, which I had to learn the hard way as I always found it intimidating to approach someone for help. Professors are always willing to help, and office hours are one of the most useful resources available to students.
First year taught me a lot about my study habits — things that I do well and things that I need to change in order to be successful. After getting better at managing my time in second year, I decided I wanted to get involved in research. I started working at London Health Sciences Centre as a research assistant, helping with multi-organ transplant research. I partake in various tasks such as using their microscope to prepare photos of samples, reviewing their papers by helping to improve their scientific writing, and learning experimental techniques through observation. Overall, it has been a great learning opportunity and I look forward to continuing to learn more about the processes involved in producing meaningful research.
“For all the students that have a passion for science, I would say to go for it and not to be afraid of underachievement.”
Currently, my future goals are to pursue something in healthcare, which could be either medicine, dentistry, optometry, or pharmacy. To follow this path, I’m hoping to get accepted into the module of my choice which would be an honors specialization in physiology.
At the end of the day, no matter what grade you get, remember that it is only temporary and there are always going to be more opportunities to do better. For all the students that have a passion for science, I would say to go for it and not to be afraid of underachievement. One of the best pieces of advice someone has given me is that you do not know what you are capable of until you try — which I completely agree with!
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