Advice for aspiring health-care professionals

Health-care professions are common pursuits for Mount Allison graduates. In addition to medicine, Mt. A graduates have pursued a number of other health-related fields such as nursing, pharmacy, psychology and health administration.

Last year, Amanda Rundle, an honours biochemistry graduate and Marjorie Young Bell scholar, accepted an offer to Dalhousie Medical School. Rundle partially attributes her successful candidacy to her involvement at Mt. A.

“From athletics, to Global Brigades, to Healthcare Outreach and other volunteer and academic commitments, I think Mt. A gave me a variety of opportunities to decide that this was the right career path for me,” Rundle wrote in an e-mail correspondence.

Rundle commented on her extensive preparation for the interview component, a crucial phase of the application process.

“I started working with an interview coach once a week before I was offered an invite to Dalhousie or MUN [Memorial University of Newfoundland],” Rundle wrote. “It was more effective for me to receive criticism from a professional rather than a peer.”

Dalhousie uses the popular Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) approach, an interview circuit designed to assess a candidate’s soft skills. “I was still nervous on the day,” Rundle said. “But beyond my own qualities and resume, I was very prepared and I think that’s what made my interview successful.”

Physics alum Triston Berger went on to pursue medical school outside Canada at the American University of the Caribbean in Sint Maarten. Berger’s advice to students interested in studying medicine abroad is to do extensive research on the schools and programs.

“The American University of the Caribbean offers a medical degree that is fully accredited in the U.S., Canada and Europe. However, there are some other schools that are only accredited in certain provinces or states,” Berger wrote in an e-mail correspondence, cautioning that “people who are looking offshore to go to medical school should be comfortable with the fact that they may end up practising outside of Canada.”

Currently going through the tough medical school application process, Brynn Aucoin, an honours biochemistry student with minors in chemistry, biology and French, is applying to MUN, Dalhousie, Queen’s and the French stream at University of Ottawa.

“As much as we all wish … there is no easy formula to get into medical school,” Aucoin said. She feels that it is important to be involved in activities that she is interested in rather than those that only look good on applications.

“Personally, I have chosen to participate in groups on campus that I am passionate about and that I enjoy; otherwise, I don’t think they are worth doing.”

Former Mount Allison Students’ Union president and honours psychology graduate Heather Webster was intent on pursuing patient advocacy. Webster is currently pursuing a joint degree that allows her to combine her law degree with a master’s in health administration at Dalhousie.

“The program is designed for those pursuing administrative and leadership careers in the Canadian healthcare delivery system,” Webster wrote in an e-mail. Webster commended the program’s experiential learning component, which allowed her to work for Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) on projects like assisting implementation of Medical Assistance in Dying policies.

Graduating in May with an honours in psychology and a minor in biology, Kaitlin Milner is applying to clinical psychology programs – a highly competitive pursuit for psychology majors.

“For the … programs that I’ve applied to, there were usually around 100 applicants and only five to seven spaces available,” Milner said.

Like many other professional healthcare hopefuls, Aucoin and Milner experienced the stress of the extensive documentation and money required for the application process of these competitive programs.

“Most students will begin by taking their MCAT after second year. Then most will retake it after third year,” Aucoin said. “One of the issues with this is the cost associated with the test itself and that there are no test centres in New Brunswick, so we must travel to Halifax or Bangor to write it.”

Since beginning at Dalhousie, Rundle said the environment has been nothing but welcoming.

“Once you’re in, you are so appreciably supported by your classmates, administration and professors,” Rundle wrote. “People begin to invest in you and your education from day one.”

For Rundle, it would seem there was a light at the end of the tunnel in a rigorous application process.

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