When my grandmother was sick with ALS, she and I had many conversations that really made me appreciate what the healthcare system was doing for her when she needed help. But at the same time, there were problems with the healthcare system and things that my family and I thought could have been done better. We tried to provide her with home care; we set up our house so that she could live there with lifts and everything. Then we had social workers, personal support workers and other healthcare-workers visit our home, and they helped so much, but it cost my family a lot of money. I thought there must be a better way to do this, to make it easier. That idea that I could make a change and make it easier for other people definitely pushed me towards medicine.
If you could provide advice to a large group of people, what advice would you give?
Take the time to try and appreciate the position you’re in relative to other people. Take the time to learn other people’s stories. Have conversations with others, to gain perspective about their life, and about your own life, and the state of the world around you. I think that right now, there’s a problem because many people don’t take the time to step back and truly listen. When you discuss certain topics with people, many people can be so quick to want to get into an argument and try to prove that their point is right. That’s not really listening. Every person you encounter brings with them their own experiences, desires, and values; you owe it to them to hear what they’re thinking. You might learn something and you might teach something. You should take the time to truly understand and have thoughtful discussions with people. I think that we’d all have more appreciation for our own places in life if we could have more meaningful conversations with other people.
What is a skill that you would like to learn?
I’d like to learn other languages. I’d like to learn Spanish, but I would probably start with French because it’s more relevant to Canada. In undergrad, I was interested in learning German, tried it for a couple weeks but then school started to get too much and I couldn’t continue. It’s just so weird to think that I can’t really effectively communicate with such a large majority of the world because we don’t speak the same language.
How do you remain grounded outside of medicine?
I definitely feel that I have a great appreciation for life outside of medical school. Being with my girlfriend is one of the best ways for me to remain grounded. Whenever I become stressed thinking about the future or if I get frustrated with studying, she’s got a way of putting things into perspective. She reminds me that being in medical school has been my dream for years and that I should stop stressing about little things and just enjoy it a little bit. And I think that does help. When I study, sometimes I find myself thinking about that. I think about how cool it is that I get to study medicine and that eventually it’ll be a career and I’ll be able to practice medicine every day.