Is Medical Science at Western the Right Program for You?
By Rachel Barboza
Most people go to Medical Science at Western because they think it’s a good path to medical school. I won’t disagree with that, as I’m sure a lot of you, when you started this journey, probably did the same thing I did. You looked around at different science programs, visited different universities, did a lot of research and finally chose this program. And you probably chose the program that you felt would best prepare you for medical school.
One thing about medical school in Canada is that you can get into it no matter what your program is. All that matters is that you take the prerequisites needed for each specific school. With that in mind, it begs the question - why are so many people choosing Medical Science at Western? And is that the program for me?
Hi, I’m Rachel, a second-year in the aforementioned program, and I’m going to help walk you through that decision!
The first thing that I want to say to prospective high school students is: don’t worry if you apply to Medical Science and don’t get in. Western Science (the program you automatically get placed in) gives you an opportunity to enter the program later. In reality, Medical Science doesn’t really start until third year, when you go into modules (these are specific medical science fields like Epidemiology and Pathology). Until then, if you’re in Medical Science, you have to maintain a high average just to stay in the program, even as you’re taking the same courses as other science students in first and second year. Finally, as long as you meet the requirements, you will automatically enter Medical Science in year three. If you’re in second year Science, as long as you fulfill the prerequisites and there’s enough space, you can also switch into the program your third year.
So now that we’re in the program, what happens?
Well, the exciting aspect of Medical Science at Western (at least for me) is the really interesting third and fourth year courses. You can choose to double major or specialize in any of the Medical Science fields, and after you make your decision, the list of courses that open up are far more interesting than the basic prerequisites you have to do in first and second.
If you’re trying to choose what modules to go into at this stage, I implore you to not fall into the trap of choosing which module will be easiest. Instead, go into Western Medical Science for the subjects that you love. It sounds extremely cliche, but it's true. You’re going to do much better in courses that you have an active interest in compared to those that you don't. With Western Medical Science, you get priority access to courses across so many different intersections, from Microbiology and Immunology, to Cell Biology, Epidemiology, and more.
One part of the program that people talk about a lot is competitiveness. You’re surrounded by many people who have the same goal as you do, and who are all aiming for the top. Sometimes, this pressure does help - for some people, competing with others for limited spots sometimes can incentivize them to do their best. Again, this mentality isn’t for everyone, and burnout is a very real possibility. Instead, a piece of advice an upperclassman told me is to compete with yourself, or rather, your past self. Each day in the program so far, I always told myself that I’m going to do better than the day before.
When choosing what program you want to do for university, the best advice I can give is to look at your options and keep in mind different possible end goals each option brings. Don't be afraid to ask upperclassmen their thoughts on courses and choices! Above all, choose what you think is best for you, and disregard any expectations other people (like your school, parents, and friends) set on you.
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