Applying to go to medical school abroad is scary, believe me I know, and getting accepted is sometimes even scarier. I applied to the Atlantic Bridge programme on kind of on a whim, not thinking I’d get into Medical School here in Ireland as I’d heard it was quite competitive for foreign students. I vaguely remember an acquaintance mentioned the Atlantic Bridge programme to me and the applications were very straight forward and the people at the Atlantic Bridge Programme made the applications go so smoothly for me. Furthermore, on investigating the standard of medical education in Ireland as compared to Canada, I was pleased to learn that Irish doctors were highly regarded in Canada and that many Canadians studying medicine in Ireland were successful in attaining residency positions in Canada, and so I was delighted to receive a call from Atlantic Bridge Programme in May confirming that I was accepted to the University of Limerick’s (UL) Graduate Entry Medical School (GEMS) for that fall. I then, in retrospect, made the best decision of my life; to pack up my bags, leave my family and friends behind for at least four years in exchange for an adventure of a lifetime.
I was a little apprehensive about UL at first, when I found out that I would be entering a brand new course at a brand new medical school in Ireland which would teach the first post graduate entry medical programme in Ireland, but I quickly reassured to know that the programme was modeled after McMaster, and my alma mater’s problem based learning (PBL) approach to education. I need not have been worried; my education here in Limerick has been second to none and there are numerous checks and balances that are in place to assure that Limerick retains the same high, if not higher, standards as older more renowned medical schools here in Ireland. Although we are a new school and a new programme, we are quickly making a name for ourselves in Ireland and abroad and a further testament to the programme is that everyone from my year that interviewed for residency positions, matched in the first round into their first choice programmes. The University of Limerick GEMS has attracted world renowned professors and lecturers that are not only amazing teachers and mentors but highly approachable, helpful, and have a made an effort to get to know each and every one of us by name. I feel that my education here in Limerick has not only prepared me to be a highly competent doctor in the future but also a humane, compassionate and caring doctor as our innovative programme emphasizes the human components of medicine and not just the scientific aspects.
I can honestly say, I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my time here in Ireland, despite the weather, and although I recently matched to the programme of my choice for this July back home in Canada and I should be over the moon, I can’t help but feel bittersweet about leaving Ireland after 4 years of nothing but great times with great friends and being blessed to have the opportunity to do medicine in a country such as this. Don’t get me wrong, I worked very hard during the course of my medical degree but, if you have good time management skills, there is ample opportunity to see and experience Ireland fully and to make amazing friends and memories in this enchanted country. I have loved it so much that I even convinced my sister to join me here in Ireland last spring for a semester abroad. I have made lifelong friends here in Ireland and we have seen the country ten times over at this stage. Immersing ourselves in the Irish culture has been one of the best aspects of studying here in Ireland and I feel that at the University of Limerick a cultural relationship is fostered and encouraged between the Irish students and students studying abroad as evidenced by UL’s vibrant International Education Division which supports its students in all aspects of studying abroad. UL as a university is innovative, embraces change and is one of the most beautiful campuses in Ireland with sprawling green space, state of the art leisure facilities, and is Ireland’s sporting campus. Being in Limerick city, you are well situated to explore all reaches of the country and if you’re not for straying too far, the city itself has a vibrant nightlife and social scene and Nancy’s and Costello’s public houses have been very welcoming and good to us UL medical students over the years. Moreover, trips to the rest of Europe are cheap and accessible during your time here in Ireland and I’ve been fortunate to visit numerous countries in four years time. If I had to describe my time here in Ireland, I would say that it was enchanted and I will be sad to leave, but I know I will return again and again in the future to this magnificent place filled with wonderful, welcoming people and maybe for a bit more “craic”!