Queen’s Takes the Real World: An unexpected detour to med school

How I landed in medicine after graduating

Amy enrolled in University of Ottawa's Faculty of Medicine after her third year at Queen's.

Every medical student has a story of what they were doing when they first got their university acceptance: how they celebrated, who they immediately shared the news with, and how they felt  relieved and rewarded for their hard work. I wish I had that. Instead, acceptance to medical school came with confusion. 

If you asked me a year ago what my post-grad was going to look like, I’d say I’d be moving into a tiny apartment in downtown Toronto to work at a startup. My day-to-day would involve designing pitch decks and strategizing marketing campaigns, all while lounging back in a beanbag chair and sipping kombucha. 

After spending the previous summer in a startup incubator and two entrepreneurship communities, it made sense. The last thing I expected was to trade it all for a doctor’s coat and four more years of school.

As you can imagine, I was pretty shocked when I was accepted to University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Medicine. At the time, I was spending my summer in Tokyo doing marketing and design at an advertising technology startup, immersed in what the city had to offer and ready for a carefree summer. Suddenly, I was hit with a wave of pressure to make the biggest decision of my life.

Fearing friends and family would sway my decision, I withheld the news and took time to think. I’d never felt lonelier or more lost. 

In second year, I changed my mindset and strayed off the traditional path to medical school. I didn’t want to give up my summers to do research just for the sake of padding my resumé. Meanwhile,  my mental health was taking a toll from the stress of trying to maintain a perfect GPA. But I applied to med school anyway because my mother advised me to keep my options open.

I faced some pretty hard questions while deciding whether to go or not. As someone who’s very ambitious, I asked myself: was I reconsidering medicine only because the opportunity was now available? 

I sat on the floor of my tiny apartment in Tokyo for days, unsure of how this would pan out. After a lot of self-reflecting, I ultimately chose medicine because I believed it would challenge me in ways I needed—and give me the fulfillment and purpose I longed for in a career.

Fast forward a few months, and I came home from Tokyo to Toronto with only six days to pack up my life, get all of my paperwork sorted out, and move to Ottawa. 

Change can be intimidating, but it’s something we have to accept. When I first moved to Queen’s, I spent so much energy worrying and missing home that I passed up on all the new, exciting experiences first year brings.

With this new beginning in Ottawa, I decided to let go and embrace change. 

I was able to open myself up, meeting some amazing people who I now consider my close friends. I’ve allowed myself to explore the city. I’m also enjoying what I’m learning, since it can contribute to something more worthwhile than passing an exam.

Of course, things aren’t always perfect. There have been times where I’ve doubted myself and felt incompetent. It’s important to remember, whatever your career, that someone saw potential in you and that’s why you are where you are. What helped me most was to reach out to my classmates because, more often than not, they were going through the same thing as me.

As you head towards the end of your undergrad at Queen’s, you’ll see friends figuring out their plans for the future. It can be anxiety-inducing, especially if you don’t know what the future holds. Remember that everybody struggles, even if you only hear of their successes. Go at your own pace and focus on being present. Your next semesters will zip by. 

There’s really no place like Queen’s and your experiences here will stay with you as you move on to your next chapter. In whatever time you have left, cherish every moment—you’ll figure the rest out later.


Advice, Graduation, medical school, queen's takes the real world

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