I always envisioned a straightforward route to medical school. I would complete a successful undergraduate degree, volunteer actively, and immerse myself in community work. I was passionate and excited to learn medicine. However, as the process is very competitive, I realized I needed to be practical. At the time of my medical school application I applied broadly, knowing little about Ireland. From the website and forums, I learned that students from Ireland had a good reputation for getting residency on return to Canada. However, it was not until my acceptance to RCSI and subsequent journey that I realized the incredible opportunity I had been granted. Nothing could have prepared me for that.
I left the safety of my Canadian community and moved to a new country with new people and new surroundings. However, the initial culture shock that I expected never happened. Half of my RCSI GEP class was Canadian. All of us were in the same position. We all had common goals and hard working attitudes. This made the process so much easier as we all learned, explored and grew together.
Although medical school can definitely be challenging with the sheer volume of knowledge, I found time management skills helped me excel in my training. I participated in various clubs and societies that RCSI offers, and also continued my community fitness classes. Further, I found time to indulge in the beautiful Irish culture. My friends and I often made time to go hiking in the Howth trails or enjoy the Saturday Market in Temple Bar.
The most rewarding aspect of my journey, however, was the opportunity to travel the country for my clinical rotations. I completed Obstetrics and Gynecology training in Drogheda, Medicine and Surgery training in Galway, and Pediatrics training in Waterford. Travelling within the country gave me the opportunities to not only enjoy the stunning landscapes, but also develop personally. I received training from world-renowned medical professionals in diverse settings. I recall working with a GP in the rural town of Ballinasloe, and my genuine sorrow as I left her friendly clinic where I became a part of the team. I always knew medicine was about human connection, but travelling to Ireland and then within the country, re-iterated this concept as I interacted with people from various Irish communities.
As I now complete my final year and apply for Canadian residency, I reflect back and realize I am grateful for this not so straightforward path. I am fortunate to have made lifelong friends, indescribable memories, and completed a hard earned but rewarding personal journey.