Before I get into my actual decision to pursue medicine I have a few things to say. The biggest one is, be sure you want to do this. Medicine isn’t easy by any means. Shadow a few doctors, see what their days are like. Look at how many hours they work and time required keeping up the field along with the number of years of education. It takes dedication, make sure you have explored your reasons.
- Pursuing medicine isn’t cheap by any means. Be prepared to drop over $125+ per application when considering OMSAS/Application fees as well as transcript fees. Money spent on transcripts will be higher if you are applying to an institution outside your province or non-OMSAS (ex. U of A requires duplicate transcripts at application and then again if accepted). Have a credit card with a reasonable limit on it or savings. You won’t be making anything until clerkship (very little), followed by residency (reasonable). Family, debts, etc. can make this very difficult.
- If you get interviews be prepared to drop $600-1000 per interview on flights/hotels/food unless they are within driving distance. If you have friends in the city or have the option of billeting I recommend you take it. This will not only save you money but will in all probability help you to relax for your interview. Talking with current med students in a big plus if you use it right. Try to judge their character and see what the school is looking for. If they offer you a chance to hang out with other med students pre-interview I recommend you take it (but don’t drink too much or stay up too late).
- Know your status. I was in MB for just over 3 years when I applied which gave me IP status. I also graduated HS in a Southern ON giving me SWOMEN status at Western and living in Ontario for at least 3 years after 14 gives an advantage at Mac. Know your advantages. If you grew up in a rural community or are aboriginal, these also will have an impact on your application.
- Although panel interviews are becoming less prominent, I found doing a rough autobiography was very useful in preparing my applications, writing essays and reviewing why I wanted to be a physician. It was also a huge asset for reviewing anecdotes or influential life experiences. I found having it written out was a great way to quickly review anecdotes before MMI interviews.
- Read the original paper on MMI interviews or maybe purchase the book http://www.amazon.ca/Multiple-Mini-Interview-Questions-Training/dp/0987827227/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1337151451&sr=1-1 which comes with a DVD showing inexperienced vs professional responses to MMI stations.
- Practice interviewing by yourself (“Tell me about yourself?” “Why do you want to become a doctor?” “What are your greatest strengths/weaknesses?” “Tell me about a time you changed your mind/were wrong?”) if you have panel interview or with actual medical students. Try to get in contact with medical students, in general they will be willing to help you out. The MMI takes practice. You must get comfortable with speaking in ethical terms if the prompt is about a case or you are asked to judge something. I have found myself and others I practiced with uncomfortable initially talking in ethical terms, thus you must get comfortable with it since issues of character are central to the MMI. As an aside, I’m sure everyone has received this advice, but read Doing Right by Hebert, it is a good summary of medical ethics.
Next, why medicine?