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The Next Two Medical School Crash Courses! Saskatoon and Halifax!

We’ve had tremendous success visiting universities across campus, talking about medical school and the different steps to success! The next round of events is coming up soon…Saskatoon and Halifax, I’m looking at you!

Register here: CLICK ME TO REGISTER!!

Saskatoon will be on Thursday November 19 in the ARTS 241 building from 6- 9pm.  This will be an exciting event that includes speakers from the University of Saskatoon School of Medicine.  As well as The Princeton Review and St. George’s University.  Special thanks to the UofS pre-med society for coordinating this event!

The Halifax Edition will be on Tuesday November 24 in Loyola 179 from 7-9pm.  We’ll have the same 4 components of any medical school application presentation that has been seen across Canada, as well as our friends at The Princeton Review and St. George’s University in attendance.

Stay tuned for an exclusive medical school interview workshop announcement in the near future! One of the best opportunities to prepare for an upcoming round of interviews!

Look forward to seeing you out there!


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 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: http://goo.gl/forms/r26iGRkIY6

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. 


Coming to the Crash Course lecture series? Tell your friends via Facebook:


Am I Ready to Study Medicine Abroad?

Thanks to Michelle for reminding me to finish writing this post.

A common source of despair for many pre-medical students, especially the ones who are relatively competitive applicants, is when do you cash in your chips and take your chances abroad? There’s unfortunately no “one size fits all” answer to this question but I’ll borrow from the stages of change behavioral theory and give you 6 phases – one of which you may find yourself in currently.


Phase 1 – Pre-contemplation

The highlights of this phase are denial and ignoring the problem. Usually you’ll be in high school through second year undergraduate when in this phase. At that time, you still believe that even your wildest dreams are attainable (and they might be). Personally, I think if you’re set on a career in medicine at a young age then you should be in this phase and working your hardest to reach your goals.


Phase 2 – Contemplation

This feels like the classic stage that most people get caught in – irrespective of career: a period of ambivalence and constantly conflicted emotions. I believe you will reach this stage at numerous points in your life. In medicine you’ll have first had this when you’re thinking about what career, then where to go to school, what specialty, subspecialty, scope of practice, etc.

Typically this will be a second year undergraduate student to as far as a Masters or PhD graduate student; even on occasion someone who has finished school, had a job and now is thinking about changing careers. At this stage, students need to have a high degree of introspection to critically evaluate themselves and their competitiveness.   In evaluating their competitiveness, students will be need to assess the likelihood of them (a) having the admission requirements and (b) probability of obtaining a spot in a regional medical school. When evaluating themselves, students need identify (a) if they really want to be a doctor and (b) what sacrifices are they willing to make. Often helpful is a pros and cons list of medicine vs not medicine and MD vs DO vs Foreign MD programs (I’ll try to help you out with that one in a future post).


Phase 3 – Preparation

The preparation stage is very exciting, at this point you’ve become open to other ideas – whether in medicine or otherwise. Hallmarks of this stage will be exploring all of your options and collecting information. This is where you start to notice the flyer for the foreign school on the wall of your biology building, which you just never saw before or you’ll start Google searching for non-traditional routes to a medical degree. This can really happen at any stage in your academic career – commonly in the third year of undergraduate studies. The best advice I can offer is to make a list of your goals and build a roadmap for how you’ll obtain them. It’s always helpful to seek out the advice of others who have been in a similar situation – believe me, with medicine, there are. Ask questions, take in as much as you can and don’t immediately dismiss any option.


Phase 4 – Action

Time to execute! Now you’ve attended the information sessions, you’ve weighed the advantages and disadvantages and you’ve by laid out your plan. At this point, you have full acceptance of going abroad. There is recognition of being unable to obtain a position in a regional medical school and you’re ok with it – because you’ve found another option that you believe is viable.

It’s important to recognize that you may not get accepted to whatever program abroad that you’ve applied to – that’s ok. Hopefully, you have a plan B and if not, you can revert back to Phase 3 and figure out how to better improve your application.


Phase 5 – Maintenance

Congratulations! You’re in! Stick to your plan and remember residency applications are up next. You get to repeat the whole process again – what specialty, how to be competitive, which residency, etc.


Phase 6 – Relapse

There will be days of doubt, days when you will hesitate and wonder if leaving home in pursuit of your dream was the right decision – everyone has these. Keep going, talk to others about how you feel and know that you’re not alone.

You may also experience this if part of your plan doesn’t work out – like not getting into the residency of your choice. Persistence is key; chances are if you’re willing to go abroad for medical school, you’re persistent at heart. Finally, others will often question your decision – hold your head high, don’t be ashamed, International Medical Graduates have proudly contributed and will continue to contribute to the health of others; embrace joining their ranks.

“What undergraduate degree do you suggest I study?”

Thanks to Evette for the first question and giving me the opportunity to start adding some real content!

What undergraduate degree do you suggest I study?”

Great question and a very common one from secondary students worldwide. First and foremost, the answer to this question will vary depending on your location. There are two common streams of entering into a medical program:

(1) Direct Entry at the completion of Secondary School (really only possible outside North America*)

(2) Graduate Entry at the completion of an Undergraduate or Graduate Degree

*There are some pre-med undergraduate programs in the United States that have a pseudo direct entry stream based on GPA and MCAT in the undergraduate courses.

Obviously if you’re located in a country that allows you to directly enter into a school of medicine (ex. Ireland, England, Australia, etc) then that should be your first choice. If you’re in North American or are considering the undergraduate route first then you’ve got to put on your explorer hat and find a program that suits you.

A few things to keep in mind:

  1. Very few programs have a specific degree requirement – so you can pursue a bachelor of science, arts, fine arts, business, engineering, basket weaving and still be eligible for medical school admission
  2. Most programs have course requirements – in general it is expected that you will have completed the following courses at an undergraduate level:
    1. 1 Year of Biology
    2. 1 Year of Physics
    3. 1 Year of English
    4. 1 Year of Math
    5. 1 Year of Inorganic Chemistry
    6. 1 Year of Organic Chemistry
  3. You will probably need to take a standardized test – MCAT in North America or GAMSAT abroad and that will evaluate you on your:
    1. Multiple Choice test taking
    2. Physical Sciences
    3. Biological Sciences
    4. English
  4. GPA is important!
    1. Graduate Entry programs are just as competitive as Direct Entry programs – so you want to have a mix of required courses, challenging courses and less challenging courses. Almost universally, your GPA will be used to evaluate your application, either as a minimum to be considered or part of a ranking algorithm. It may sound cool to graduate from the hardest program in your area, but if your GPA is less than someone graduating from an easier program – chances are, they will appear as a better applicant on paper than you.
    2. Best way to have a high GPA? Pick something that interests you. I can’t read Tolkien (The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings) to save my life – if I took a literature course on his works, no matter how notoriously easy it would be; I’d probably scrape by because I have so little interest.
  5. Escape Plan
    1. Medicine isn’t for everyone and it can be tough to realize that as you’re finishing secondary school. Having a program that gives you other options and a chance to explore other careers gives you alternatives.
  6. Medicine has a science foundation
    1. While it won’t teach you to be a doctor; taking courses that relate to the human body will help your understanding later on when you get to medical school – even general/ introductory courses will make the topic less foreign. These areas include:
      1. Anatomy
      2. Physiology
      3. Pathology
      4. Histology
      5. Biochemistry
      6. Pharmacology
      7. Genetics
      8. Neuroscience
      9. Psychology

So how do you pick the right program? It’s a combination of multiple factors – more than I’ve listed above. Don’t be the kid who goes into it thinking “I’m going to do my undergraduate degree in surgery before going to medical school and then be a cardiothoracic surgeon when I graduate” because I can promise you, that’s not happening.

I did my undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto in the department of Human Biology. I was part of a specialist program in Genes, Genetics and Biotechnology. I chose it because coming out of secondary school I was interested in genetics and thought it gave me the flexibility to take other courses while having a genetics foundation.

Here are the good and bad of my thought process:

  1. U of T is a tough school full of kids who graduated near the top of their class in high school. Unfortunately, trying to be a smart kid in a room of other smart kids is really hard, especially if the school is trying to maintain a low class average. But I figured the prestige of the institution was worth it – WRONG.
    1. To do it again, I’d have gone to a smaller, less well-known school (my first year biology class was 1500+ students – ack).
  2. Genetics was fun but I got bored with it quickly and realized I didn’t like lab work – most clinicians probably don’t’. Medicine is a talking/people specialty; by the end I found myself gravitating towards global health studies because I was interested in delivery of healthcare more than just the nuts and bolts of a given blot.
  3. U of T has a ton of diversity in their courses – this is a good and bad thing. The breadth of the program gives you the flexibility to take a wide variety of classes but then you’re a Jack (or Jill) of all trades and a master of none. I think I would have preferred a more structured curriculum – hindsight is 20/20 and this is going to be very person dependent.
  4. Undergraduate did allow me to mature as a person and as a student – have some flexibility to take unorthodox and random classes. Two that stand out for me were – Intro to Latin/Greek terminology and First Nations Health and Healing; both very clear departures from genetics but taught concepts that I still use today.

In conclusion – the quick and dirty answer to “how do I pick an undergraduate program?” is going to require a little introspection. Make sure you don’t close off any options, have all the prerequisite courses and have given yourself the best chance to succeed academically – after that, pick something you think you might love – don’t worry you can always change if you don’t love it.


**Disclaimer – I can’t guarantee you a spot in medical school, but I wish I could; the post above is my opinion and I openly welcome that there are other views about choosing the right undergraduate program which will differ. Feel free to share yours below in the comment box or write me directly. **

Up and Running!

I’ve tried to develop a stable blog / website for the Medical School Crash Course for a long time now.  Unfortunately the realities of being a surgical resident have left me largely unable to sit down and figure out how to use WordPress — until now!!  It looks like there’s the start of something with potential here! Over the next few weeks I’ll update and add more content.  Anyone with comment, suggestions or things they’d like to see – please click on ‘contact us’  and I’ll be happy to respond.