Dalhousie Medical School Personal Essay

We are a group of six 1st year medical students who are here to help with questions about Dalhousie University Medical School and the MMI weekend. Ana, Alyson and Amy attend the Halifax campus site and Maggie and Rob attend the Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick (DMNB) site.

HALIFAX AAMS REPS

Ana Hung

Hi everyone!

My name is Ana Hung and I am very excited to be one of your Ask A Med Student (AAMS) reps this year. I am originally from China and I moved to Halifax 10 years ago. I did my undergraduate degree in Nursing at Dalhousie and have worked as a registered nurse in the QEII hospital in Halifax for the last 5 years. I had a great time at Dal during my nursing degree and it’s been great so far since school has started.

I remember what it was like last year when I was preparing for the MMI and how nervous I felt. It was definitely nerve racking but so exciting at the same time. I want you all to know that you are not alone and we are here to help you with any questions you might have. I am sure you have all worked very hard and you are so close from reaching your dreams! We want to make sure that this process is smooth for you and that you get to enjoy it.

I really enjoyed the interview last year. I think it is important to stay calm and confident. I know it is easier to be said than done but again, we are here to answer any questions you have or to give you any tips we have.

Please feel free to email us and ask questions at askadalmedstudent@gmail.com or check out the Facebook Page: Ask A Med Student- Dalhousie, Class of 2022.

I look forward to meeting all of you soon and good luck with everything!

Ana Hung

Alyson Colburne

Hi Everyone!

My name is Alyson and I am very excited to be representing the class of 2021 as one of the Ask A Med Student reps in Halifax! I grew up in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia and completed my Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Psychology locally at Saint Mary’s University.  

The journey to medical school is certainly a challenging one, but as AAMS reps we are here to help make it a little less stressful. Throughout my own journey, I  learned a lot about the application process and the MMI and received a ton of help and support from the past AAMS reps! The interview was the part I was most nervous for, so having someone to talk to who had been through the same experience made a huge difference. At Dalhousie, we are lucky that this support and encouragement continues throughout our entire education from both our classmates as well as the amazing staff and faculty!

We are looking forward to meeting you during interview weekend, and we will all be there to cheer you on. The best advice I can give you is to be yourself and enjoy the experience- remember, each station is a chance to make a brand new first impression! If you have any questions before then, please reach out to us on our Facebook page or over email. Whether it’s a specific question about the interview process or if you want to sit down for coffee and talk about what Dalhousie Medical School is really like, we’re always happy to help!  

See you soon!

Alyson Colborne

Amy Silver

Hi there!

My name is Amy, and I grew up outside of Antigonish before completing my BA in Psychology here at Dalhousie. I then went on to do a BSc in Neuroscience at Carleton University in Ottawa before making my way back to Dalhousie’s Med School. I’m super excited to be one of your AAMS reps for Halifax!

I remember how helpful the AAMS reps were during the weeks leading up to my interview and during the interview weekend itself, and I knew right away that I wanted to pay it forward if I got admitted (and I did!). They were great at answering questions and taking away some of the stress of that weekend, and I hope that I and my fellow reps can do the same for you! Feel free to reach out via the Facebook page (Ask A Med Student- Dalhousie, Class of 2022) or via email to askadalmedstudent@gmail.com and one of us will get back to you asap.

The best advice I can give for the MMI weekend is twofold: prepare in advance by going over practice MMI questions, and then try to relax and have fun in the interview! Seriously, just be you. Two hours sounds long, but it will fly by before you know it. You’ve put in a lot of work to get to this point, so savour the experience!

Looking forward to meeting you soon!

Amy

SAINT JOHN AAMS REPS

Rob Hanlon

Hello!

My name is Rob Hanlon and I am one of the Ask A Med Student reps for the Saint John campus this year. I am excited to meet and speak with all of you! The fact that you have applied to (or are thinking of applying to) Dalhousie means you have already made a great decision on your path to becoming a physician!

A little bit about myself: I am from Saint John, so I am quite excited to be studying in my hometown (not biased at all). I have a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Saint Francis Xavier University and a Bachelor of Nursing from the University of New Brunswick. I also completed a year of Psychology and Philosophy in between degrees. I worked as a Registered Nurse for two years before starting medical school this past September.

The New Brunswick campus and staff are amazing; oh, and I suppose my classmates are pretty great too. The support and encouragement offered from the people at DMNB is outstanding; they want you to succeed! The Dal building and UNBSJ campus have plenty of study and recreational spaces. The small class size is great and you get to know your classmates quickly. You also have plenty of opportunities to get to know the Halifax group as well (you will see them every class).

I know that the application process is strenuous; it took me four attempts to get in. Do not give up if this is what you want; be resilient and keep moving forward. Remember, this is not a solo journey and the current med students are here to help you! If you have any questions please email them to askadalmedstudent@gmail.com or check out the Facebook page: Ask A Med Student – Dalhousie, Class of 2022.

Rob

Maggie Stephenson

Hello Everyone!

My name is Maggie and I am one of the NB representatives for Ask A Med Student. I am really excited to be able to answer your questions and meet you at the interviews. Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick (DMNB) is a great place to study and I’m sure you will love it too. The staff and the other students are incredibly supportive and are always striving to help you succeed.  

I can imagine that you are all getting stressed because the application cycle is long and has many tasks but we are all here to help! I personally applied four times before getting in so I am very familiar with the process and the MMI and I’m happy to answer any questions you have.  

A bit about me, like a lot of people I didn’t take a direct course to medical school. I did a Bachelor of Music degree at MUN and a Bachelor of Education degree at St Thomas University. I taught in secondary schools for two years then went back to MUN and I was one semester shy of a Bachelor of Science in Biology when I got admitted to medicine. What I really want to tell people is this: if this is your dream, do not give up, persevere through the set backs it will be completely worth it.  

I am looking forward to meeting you at the interview weekend. If you have any questions at all please don’t be afraid to contact us. Email them to askadalmedstudent@gmail.com or join the Facebook page: Ask A Med Student – Dalhousie, Class of 2022.

Maggie

Every year, over 2500 students will enroll in a Canadian medical school.

Comparing the size of this group to the more than 10,500 students that apply each year shows that the medical school application process can be a grueling one.

Nervous? Don’t be. TalentEgg chatted with two successful Canadian med school applicants to give you the inside scoop!

Meet our med students

Emily Fraser, who graduated from Acadia University this year, was accepted into Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Medicine to join the Class of 2017 starting in Fall 2013.

A graduate of McMaster University this year, Ellen Van Rensburg is heading to the Queen’s University School of Medicine this September.

Both Ellen and Emily went through the application process at 5 medical schools, took the MCAT and were thrilled with their acceptances! Read on as they share the details of their experiences and offer tips for all you budding medical students.

1. Complete your undergraduate degree: make sure that you have taken all necessary prerequisite courses and you are satisfied with your grades.

2. Complete your Medical College Assessment Test (MCAT). This part of the admissions process has been around for over 80 years!

3. During the year prior to your desired med school start date, submit an official application to medical school(s).

  • Your applications may include undergraduate marks, MCAT scores, assessments by referees and an autobiographical sketch (a list of any employment, extracurricular, or volunteer activities).

4. Double-check to make sure you have submitted all of the necessary parts of your medical school application as some schools will require an additional short essay.

5. Wait to hear back from your chosen schools to find out if you will receive an interview.

6. After attending any necessary interviews, sit tight and wait to hear from the schools. Good luck!

Before the actual application process

Emily: “Take advantage of all of the helpful people around you. Get to know your Health Sciences/Medicine Advisor at your undergraduate university, as they can offer good advice on what courses you should be taking and what Med schools are actually looking for. Talk to students who have been through the process, and even have a chat with your family doctor about their application process and what their job is actually like.”

Ellen: “I think the most important part of the application process is the initial decision to apply to medical school and being absolutely sure that you really want to go! The application process takes such a long time and only becomes harder if you don’t know that medical school is what you want to do. If you’ve made the big decision, I would suggest starting as early as possible- with the MCATs, with OMSAS, with finding referees etc.”

Bonus tip: Sign up for the MCAT the day registration opens to save you from driving a long distance to write the test!

The interviews

Emily: “My one and only interview was an MMI (Multiple Mini Interview). This interview format consists of 8-minute stations all containing different interviewers and situations. Essentially you are selling yourself to the interviewers, so know yourself and what accomplishments you are most proud of. Talk to doctors and people who work in the health care system so you can get a good idea of what doctors are currently facing and what they might have to deal with in the future.”

Ellen: “The different medical schools often have different interview formats. Some schools use the MMI format while others might have a panel interview. Some schools even do both. To prepare for my interviews I spent a long time thinking about my past experiences and how they have shaped me. I made lists of different qualities I think I have and tried to back up these characteristics with examples. I thought about why I wanted to study medicine and why I wanted to attend the school I was interviewing at.”

Bonus tip: Practice your techniques by participating in mock interviews.  Your school may be able to organize them through the career centre, or you can practice with friends, family, professors, or even a pet!

The supplemental applications

Emily: “Supplemental sections were required for all of my applications. Not only do you need to think back to everything you have accomplished in the past 4 years, but you are also required to find a reference for every activity you list which can become a grueling task.”

Ellen: “I had to write a few supplemental essays. They weren’t too lengthy and were about my own experiences so it wasn’t too challenging but definitely required some thought.”

Bonus tip: Give yourself more time than you think you will need for supplemental applications. Filling out all that information can be time consuming!

Study tips for the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test)

Ellen: “I study best individually and in coffee shops so I bought one prep book and studied material out of the book at Starbucks! In general I found it helpful to review material I had already studied frequently and try to connect it to related topics. For example, if studying about the cardiovascular system and blood pressure I might take the chance to review some of the physics of fluids, Pascal’s law and the Continuity equation. Those kind of exercises might make the test feel more continuous rather than distinct subjects.”

Emily: “Get your hands on as many practice tests as possible. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) releases old MCAT tests every year which I found very helpful because they contain actual questions used on past tests and are presented in a very similar computer-based test format. Timing is everything when it comes to the MCAT, and the more practice you get the better you will score.”

Bonus tip: Use study guides and prep courses, but remember to concentrate on the type of studying that works best for you. If you learn best in a group then why not get a study group together to review material once a week until the test? If you’re more of an individual learner then make sure you allot some time to go over things on your own!

The most challenging parts of the process – and how to overcome them

Ellen: “Preparing for the MCAT was really exhausting and challenging for me. I started studying pretty early for the test and gave myself at least three months to learn the material. I worked full-time while studying so I allotted a specific time every day which I would devote to studying. I tried to make it as “fun” and “easy” as possible by doing lots of review of material I was comfortable with and mixing it among the harder concepts. It really boosted my confidence.”

Emily: “Hands down, the essay was my most challenging step. Trying to demonstrate why I would be a good physician in 1500 words or less was a difficult process for someone like me who always has a little too much to say. To help me with the process, I brainstormed ideas with my family and friends, gave myself ample writing time so I could cut down my content through multiple drafts, and even had a friend read over my final version for further edits.”

Bonus tip: Reward yourself with some well-earned time off when your applications are done. You deserve it!

Want more info? Visit TalentEgg’s Healthcare Career Guide! 

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