Brock University! We’re coming to You!

One of the first stops on this fall’s Coast – 2 – Coast Tour!

We’re bringing a 2 hour slimmed down version of the Medical School Crash Course to you with our friends at the Brock U Pre-Med Club.  In the two hours we’ll talk about the 4 key components to any medical school application, we’ll run through the recent admission numbers and then we’ll hand it off to Princeton Review to talk about the new MCAT and how to ace it.  Finally, the new Associate Director of Canadian Admissions – Dr. Ben Robinson will be there to discuss your options of going abroad. All in 2 hours and all totally free! 

Pre – register ahead of time at the following link: CLICK ME!



2015 Medical School Crash Course – At Capacity!

Thank you for registering for the 2015 Toronto Medical School Crash Course.


As a reminder, the Crash Course is THIS Saturday May 30 from 10am – 4pm.
It will be held at the University of Toronto in the Medical Sciences Building, Room 3153; located at 1 King’s College Circle.  Parking is available on the UofT campus for $10 / day – more information please visit: .  It is also accessible via the TTC – the closest stop is the Queen’s Park Subway station.
Please note that we have reached our capacity for this year’s Crash Course. As we are constrained by the room’s capacity, when possible, we’d appreciate if 1 rather than 2 parents could attend so that there is adequate room for all students.  Please keep in mind that we will be planning another Crash Course later in the summer.
 We will begin seating for the event at 9:30 am – as stated above, space is limited, so please arrive early to ensure adequate seating. I personally don’t want to waste your time or inconvenience you if we’re left with standing room only -just recognize that it is a possibility.
For those of you who are affiliated with student organizations at your campus – please get in touch! We can offer similar programs at your institution either during the summer or coming school year.
This will be a great Crash Course and a day full of information about your future application to medical school.
See you then!

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2015 Toronto Medical School Crash Course

We’re happy to announce the 2015 Toronto Medical School Crash Course on Saturday May 30, 2015.

The Medical School Crash Course is a FREE, 1- day event that will cover all topics related to medical school admission. Sessions include:

– The 4 Crucial Components on Any Medical Application

– How to Maximize Your Extra-Curricular Activities

– Current Medical Student & Physician Panel

– The New MCAT

– Going Abroad For Medical School and Returning to Canada Afterwards

The Medical School Crash Course has been in Toronto for over a decade helping students achieve their goals. There will be current medical students and physicians on hand to answer questions and advise you on how to maximize your application.

Date: Saturday May 30, 2015

Location: Medical Science Building- Room 3153, University of Toronto, 1 King’s College Circle, Toronto, ON.

Time: 10 am – 4pm

Parents and students from any institution are welcome to attend!

Please visit the link below to register:

2015 Crash Course Poster

The Medical School Crash Course — LECTURE SERIES !

Hello all!

I’m super excited to announce the start of the “Medical School Crash Course Lecture Series”.  This will be a series of lectures covering the various facets of the medical school application process, from ‘how to make yourself the ideal applicant’ to ‘preparing for your interview’.  The lectures will be 1 hour long and take place at the University of Toronto.

The first lecture is entitled “The Four Core Components of Any Medical School Application”.  It will provide a broad overview of the medical school application process as it applies to Canada, the United States and abroad.  We will delve into the practical aspects of the application – timelines, costs and application cycles.  We’ll also cover the 4 key components that underlie any medical school application.

This lecture and all future lectures are free!

Date: Thursday January 22, 2015

Location: Sidney Smith Hall; Room – 2110

Time: 5:00pm  – 6:00pm EST

Future lecture topics include:

-“Maximizing Your Time Outside of Class”

-“Personal Statements: Reducing your Life to One Page”

-“The Art of the Interview”

-“Going Abroad and Getting Back”

-“The MCAT and the World of Standardized Exams”

Have something that you would like discussed? Comment below or contact us!

The lecture series is brought to you in partnership with the Human Biology Students’ Union at The University of Toronto and The Princeton Review. 


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Why Physics Matters

I apologize for not having a new post or any new content in a while. I’ve had a great experience answering a lot of questions from prospective medical students about my experiences at St. George’s University and the exciting journey I’ve had through medicine thus far.

I’m going to field a “softball” question that is of interest to both high school and undergraduate pre-medical students.

“Why do I need to take Physics? I’m not an Engineer”

There are a few different ways of approaching this question. I’m of the belief that physics matters in medicine because the applications of it become evident later on. Modern medicine is a delicate balance between social interaction and the interface with technology (you can save that line kiddos for your medical school essays). Immersed in the multiple diagnostic modalities available to a clinician is physics. The patient has abdominal pain and is getting a CT Scan? Roll out your nuclear physics. Want to get an ultrasound to view the fetus? Time for a small lesson in wave theory. Any discussion of biomechanics has at its core a discussion of physics. Granted, unless you’re in a specialty that uses that technology daily (radiology, radiation oncology, orthopedic surgery, physical medicine and rehabilitation, etc) it is more than sufficient to have a cursory knowledge of physics – which is exactly why only a first year and not a second year of physics is usually required.

I think physics gives you more than just mathematical explanations for how the world works. I think physics can give you clarity in analysis and thought. I was always taught to approach physics problems from the perspective of:

  1. What do I already know about this situation?
  2. What am I given?
  3. What do I need to solve?
  4. What is unknown that I need for my solution?

When trying to formulate where two trains that start at different coasts will meet – this practice works. It also works when trying to figure out a diagnosis.

Whether trying to diagnose a hip fracture, appendicitis or the common cold, physicians subconsciously ask themselves these same questions. This includes considering what symptoms the patient has presented with and how it corresponds to existing knowledge of a disease. This is followed by what additional tests are required to arrive at the diagnosis.

I appreciate that physics is a pain for most pre-medical students. On the road to being a physician you will have courses that you love and hate. Even if this resides in your hate category – suck it up and accept that it’s a prerequisite for many schools (international and the US) and a component of the MCAT. You therefore have no choice but to do well. If it’s something that you struggle with- I suggest going to office hours, make the most of your tutorials and if necessary, get a private tutor. Again, it’s a component of your application that isn’t going to go away – hoping that it “wont be so bad”, doesn’t solve your problems. Recognize where you have difficulties and work to fix it. If you’re fortunate enough to be in high school and reading this blog – this is precisely why you should take physics all throughout secondary school and maximize your time in the sanctity of your high school physics class before you head out into the real world. It’s much easier to have an established foundation to work from than to try and figure it out on your own, while still getting acclimatized to being a university student.


Disclosure: I’m neither a physicist nor an engineer; I don’t have a deep love of physics – I think it’s interesting in the way that 1 year olds love everything that sparkles. I am fortunate to have a father who is an engineer and high school physics taught by two engineers – this more than anything allowed me to stay enthusiastic when I would have rather been dissecting something. Yet, the adherence to organize what I know and don’t know has been one of the most valuable tools throughout my education.


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Pathway to Medicine

This seems like an intuitively obvious question when planning your medical career- how do you go from high school student to fully licensed physician? Unfortunately the answer is region-specific. For this post, I’ll focus on North America and then prepare a subsequent post for the UK and Australian readers out there.

Ideally, you’d want a linear progression from one level of schooling to another (Figure 1) – this is rarely the case.



It really ends up being more of a mixture, with one person’s pathway to medicine not necessarily mirroring another’s (Figure 2).


Secondary (High) School: Grade 9 -12.

Your high school transcript will almost never be seen by a medical school – this is your opportunity to explore your interests and learn about all the different careers you can grow up to pursue. Academically, you will want a mix of science and non-science courses – make sure your science courses include physics and chemistry because the university equivalents of those courses may be required when in applying to medical school. Your goal here is simple – get into a good university that aligns with your needs as a student and will let you pursue the field of study of interest to you. This is also a good time to pursue volunteer opportunities – physicians often have integral roles in their communities; you don’t have to be a licensed medical practitioner to do the same. Finally, establish good study skills – these will be necessary as you progress academically; like all good things, they take practice to develop.


I’ve already posted a fairly detailed synopsis of selecting an undergraduate major here. Usually around year 2-4 most students will take the MCAT. Depending on where in North America you’re located, it is possible to gain entry into medical school before completing your degree ie. after your 3rd year. However, by far the standard approach is to complete a 4 years Honours Bachelor of Something (Science, Arts, etc). Occasionally, students may also pursue an additional 5th year of study to further boost their GPA or complete prerequisites.

Medical School

Perhaps the topic of a future post: “The Structure of Medical School”. The abridged version of that post is that this is where you’ll learn the foundational knowledge of being a physician. You’ll learn how the body works when it’s healthy, unhealthy and then how to apply that knowledge to patients. Conventionally, medical school is taught in 4 years but there are a few schools that have accelerated programs (without summer vacation) where it’s possible to finish in 3 years- McMaster University, I’m looking at you.   Typically the 4 years are divided into 2 years of basic sciences and 2 years of clinical sciences; which all culminate with….another application! This one is to a residency in a specialty of your choice.

In the United States, medical students will take the United States Medical Licensure Examination (USMLE) Step 1 at the end of year 2 (the completion of basic sciences). This is followed by Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) and Clinical Knowledge (CK) towards the end of 3rd year into 4th year, prior to starting residency. For our friends who have gone abroad and will be International Medical Graduates (IMGs) – the tests are the exact same.

In Canada, medical students will write the Medical College of Canada Qualifying Exam 1 (MCCQ1) during their final year of medical school. For IMGs, they must complete the Medical College of Canada Equivalency Exam (MCCEE) and the National Assessment Collaboration (NAC) Objective Structured Clinical Exam (OSCE) prior to completing the MCCQ1 and applying for residency in Canada. The MCCEE has similar content to USMLE Step 2 CK and the NAC-OSCE is similar in nature to USMLE Step 2 CS.


After the broad learning of medical school, residency will focus your knowledge into a specific specialty of interest. This can vary from General Surgery to Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Radiology, etc. The length of residency varies depending on the specialty and location. For example, Family Medicine is a 2 year residency in Canada and 3 year residency in the US. While Emergency Medicine is a 3-4 year residency in the US, it’s a 5 year program in Canada. I’ll make a chart in a subsequent post to compare the country differences.

The ‘medical school style’ general medical examinations are not over yet! In the US, after graduating from medical school and either in residency or prior to starting, it’ll be necessary to complete USMLE Step 3. In Canada, the MCCQ2 awaits you.

At the end of residency, two options exist – (a) subspecialty training (ex. Cardiologist, surgical oncologist, etc) or (b) Enter into practice – be it your own or joining a pre-existing one. After residency, you’re eligible to complete the board licensing exam for your given specialty – this may be a written and/or oral examination.


By now, if you’ve been reading along, this is probably self-explanatory – you will have focused training in the subsection of your given specialty of interest. Just as with residency, the duration and content of fellowships will vary depending on location and area of study. Most Internal Medicine subspecialties (Critical Care, Endocrinology, etc) are 3 years in duration; surgical subspecialties are 1-3 years (Colorectal and some trauma fellowships are 1 year in the US; plastic surgery is 3 year; vascular surgery is 2 years). It is possible to do more than one fellowship (unlike residencies, where most people usually only complete one).

Graduate School

I’ve put graduate school off to the side as an amorphous entity that can factor into your medical career as much or as little as you’d like it to. Some students only want to be clinicians and will be accepted into medical school directly from undergraduate and go on to complete their training, open a practice and never look back. Other students may apply to graduate school at any given point to improve themselves (and their application) for their career. This can include the undergraduate student who wants to improve their academic standing, or the resident that is demonstrating their interest in a particular subspecialty.

Unlike undergraduate studies where it can be a “free-for-all” decision about what to study; graduate education should ideally be more focused on a medically relevant discipline. This can take the shape of lab/bench research or clinical outcomes or public health to give a few examples. Remember, at some point you’ll have to justify why you went to graduate school and how it pertains to your future.


This is a vastly complicated area also known as “life”. For completeness sake; scope of practice has plenty of options, including private practice, hospitalist or group practice. Depending on what specialty and/or subspecialty there may be recertifying examinations every 4-7 years. If you are a board certified physician in your given specialty, there may also be a certain number of Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits that you will have to obtain in a given time period to ensure that you are providing current care for your patients.

In short, it’s a long road with many twists and turns. A stomach full of courage and a little bit of stubbornness can get you a long way. It’s best to remember that the journey to being a physician is a lifelong pursuit, not merely a series of sprint races.


Medical College of Canada Examinations:

United States Medical Licensing Examination: