The Mentorship Spot
My Take on Western Med Sci & Canadian Schools
Updated: Jul 28, 2020
Written By Sharon Low
Hello! My name is Sharon Low, and I’m currently a second year medical sciences student at Western University, but I am planning to switch into a double major in biology and political sciences for my third year. I love to cook, and binge-watch Buzzfeed Tasty and Bon Appetit videos (especially the “eating my feed” show). Beside school and food, I work as a basketball referee and do a ton of Model United Nations in my spare time.
1. Why did you choose Western?
This is a really long story. Western was not my first-choice by a long shot, but I was also in a very unique situation. Having went to a private high school, I was primed to apply to both Canadian and American schools. I ended up being accepted to UCLA for Kinesiology, Duke for Global Health, and a bunch of other second-tier American schools, such as UC Irvine and Boston University. As for Canadian schools, I was accepted to UofT for Life Sciences, McGill for International Relations, Waterloo for Life Sciences, McMaster for iSci, and Western for Med Sci.
So how did I end up at Western? Once upon a time, I wanted to be a doctor. Western was said to have a great pre-med program, besides McMaster Health Sciences and QuARMS. If I was to attend an American school for their undergraduate program, it would have been too expensive to do both an undergrad and med school program in the States, so it would have made sense to do an undergrad in Canada instead. As I was going through my Canadian options, I eventually reduced my options to UofT Life Sciences with an offer to Munk One (there are several ‘One’ programs for each of the faculties at UofT, super great to take a look at, here’s a link: https://munkschool.utoronto.ca/one/), Western Med Sci, and Mcgill for International Relations. Having looked into being a doctor for the longest time, science programs made the most sense, but I was very actively involved in Model United Nations throughout grade 11 and 12, so I didn’t want to completely eliminate the possibility of a career in international relations. My parents pushed me to be more focused, so I decided to stick to the medical route and go to Western for Medical Sciences, because it was known to be a relatively much easier program to get a higher GPA (I was completely wrong, but will mention this later). And that’s where I ended up.
2. Do I regret going to Western?
To be completely honest, with my current career aspirations and goals, Western was not the best choice. I still actively partake in Model United Nations, but having further investigated my interests and strengths, I have found that I am better at humanities and social science-related subjects. However, Western has helped me to better discover my strengths so I don’t necessarily regret coming to this school. Super cheesy-sounding but I have made incredible friends here and would not have it any other way.
3. What are your general thoughts on Western Medical Sciences?
If your plan is to go to medical school, Western Medical Sciences might not be the best option. For the first two year, the program is very similar to that of general sciences and biology, and the actual medical-related modules begin in third year. However, a lot of people start applying to medical school in their third year, so Medical Sciences does not necessarily better prepare you for that. While being in Med Sci ensures that most of the content on the MCAT is covered in your regular course materials, these courses are by no means actually important to your eventual MCAT score. Taking an MCAT prep course is often just as useful, and in most cases, is a better way of preparing for the test.
Furthermore, Medical Sciences is not an easy program by any stretch. With no bias whatsoever, I can say that after comparing the course content, exam schedules, and course requirements at Western, it is one of the toughest health-related undergraduate programs in Canada. They actively try to reduce the student pool in first and second year, in an effort to raise the prestige of the program. Be prepared to work hard at whatever university you attend, but Western, even with its un-fulfilled reputation as a party school (every school is a party school if you know where to look), is relentless in its difficulty.
4. Why did you switch programs?
My current path is to eventually enter government work, in the foreign service or other diplomacy work, especially internationally (hopefully with the United Nations). Doing a double major gives me more freedom to take courses I’m interested in, and better prepares me to enter graduate school. I hope to eventually do a graduate degree at the University of Toronto in public health.
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