I have decided to create a new section termed “Student Highlights”. In this section I will highlight other medical and professional students, show their path, and ask them some questions. I added this section to provide readers perspective from other medical students and their path to show that there is no one “correct” path to medicine. I also hope that highlighting non-medical trainees allows readers to have more information regarding non-medical professional school choices. I hope you enjoy this section, please leave a comment or contact me with feedback on it. Enjoy!
Sakib was born in Winnipeg and then moved to Ottawa as a child with his family where he grew up. He currently lives with his parents and two younger brothers. After finishing high school at the Ottawa Islamic School, Sakib went the University of Ottawa and completed a 3-year undergrad and graduated with a BSc. General Science. He is currently enrolled in his 2nd year of the 4-year MD program at the University of Ottawa. Some of Sakib’s main areas of interest include mentorship and working with youth.
When did you decide on medicine and what made you want to pursue medicine?
“I decided to apply to medicine during my second year of undergrad. Prior to that I primarily wanted to continue to graduate studies and become a professor. My experiences including those in research and working part time as a medical scribe guided my understanding of the different professions and what I felt I was suited for.”
Why would you recommend medicine as a career path?
- “Medicine gives physicians the opportunity to make a very direct impact on the lives of patients.”
- “It constantly requires critical thinking and problem solving in the context of being able to learn from patient and build a trusting relationship with them.”
- “Constant learning and vast amounts of knowledge in very interesting subject content”
- “Opportunity to make a difference at a systemic level through leadership and advocacy”
What do you think were some of your strengths in your application?
“Regardless of the medical school, a strong foundation in the following areas helped me as an applicant: good GPA, good MCAT, strong reference letters, and diverse extracurriculars. The first two are self-explanatory, for strong reference letters I asked a professor I was doing research with, a supervisor at one of ECs, and a someone from my workplace. They were all people who I had spent a significant amount of time with and who knew me well.”
What was the most challenging part of the process of getting into medical school for you?
“Given that I only considered medical school a year prior to applying, my biggest hurdle was dedicating time to getting involved in extracurriculars to demonstrate my interests. As I packed in a bunch of extracurriculars during my second year, along with working part time, it became tough to manage school and research.”
How was the transition from your undergrad to medical school? What was the most difficult shift for you?
“I transitioned quite comfortably, I was at home for undergrad and having the opportunity to continue living at home and still be around all my friends and family kept a lot of important factors constant. As someone who is still developing study habits and used to only work when there was strong incentive during undergrad, the main transition has been becoming a self-driven learner and improve my time management.”
What are some things you like about uOttawa med specifically for anyone considering going there?
“Based on my personal experience and speaking with friends at other schools, I feel that uOttawa’s curriculum is very well suited to me. It strikes a balance between giving us time to study independently and dedicate time towards research/personal interests, while still providing a strong foundation through class lectures and CBL.”
If you could go back to when you were in undergrad, would you do anything differently?
“I really enjoyed undergrad and wouldn’t change much with regards to my path to medicine. What I do think I would do differently is to take that time to explore certain other areas that I may have had more opportunity to investigate than I do now. Taking classes in economics and computer science would’ve taught me about other areas that I find cool.”
How is the workload in medical school? How are you able to balance schoolwork and wellness?
“At uOttawa, depending on the block, we typically have a midterm exam and then a final exam. Unlike undergrad where I would take 5 courses and have 5 different exams, in medical school all the content is tested together on one exam. At times studying for an exam with 13 weeks of content can be a lot especially if you haven’t kept up with the material along the way. But by slowly building habits to stay on top of things it becomes more manageable. With our schedule of half days, it gives plenty of flexibility to find time to do the things I enjoy while also finishing my schoolwork.”
Outside of becoming a physician, what else did you consider doing?
“I’ve had a wide array of career interests over the years. I would be interested in studying computer science or law as two alternate career paths.”
What specialty/specialties in medicine are you currently interested in/exploring?
“The areas of medicine that I am currently most interested in are Radiology, Radiation Oncology, and Internal Medicine.”
Do you have any extracurriculars or hobbies you currently participate in outside of school?
“I currently work with a charitable group run by medical students called Heart 2 Heart. I also work with a group in my class to run Doctors of Ottawa where we interview physicians to give advice and share stories with future doctors.”
Any final comments for readers?
“The mentality to focus on is to approach everything with an air of humility while doing our best. When putting in time and effort, its natural to become very invested in the result and come to expect that we deserve it. Anything different than what we initially desired can feel unacceptable. While understandable, a far better mentality for growth is to do our best while understanding that not everything will go the way we plan, and to look with optimism to the doors that open.”