My name is Oleksandra Kaskun and I am a Family Medicine Resident at Memorial University, Newfoundland, Canada. I was born in Ukraine, and moved to the Greater Toronto Area where I completed my undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology with Co-op at the University of Toronto. My dream was always to become a doctor, so I applied to medical school in Ireland through Atlantic Bridge. I was soon accepted to the 4-year Graduate Entry Medicine Program at University College Cork, and a quick 4 years and a global pandemic later, I have now graduated and started residency in
Studying in Ireland has many benefits. First off, there are many Canadians studying medicine in Ireland, which facilitates the transition across the pond. My graduate entry class had about 80 students, with about half of them being from Canada. The program structure and content are also highly aligned to North American expectations, making graduates from Irish medical schools well suited to pursue residency in Canada or the States. The graduate entry program follows a system-based approach, which means we learned about the anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology, and biochemistry that was related the musculoskeletal system, followed by another system for example. This contrasts with the 5-year program which is generally taught by discipline – aka all anatomy, followed by physiology etc. During the graduate entry program in Cork, students also partake in one junior clinical elective, and one elective module. When not during pandemic times, students can pursue clinical core rotations outside of Ireland in third year, however I did not have a chance to do this due to restrictions.
For students who are interested in applying to residency in the States, the program offers support when studying for the USMLE Step 1, which is an added benefit. Moreover, as many other students are also applying to North America, it is easy to stay up to date on application deadlines.
As for the student experience, it has been fantastic. Students, faculty, and locals are all very welcoming and supportive. The university offers a wide variety of societies and clubs to diversify that CV of yours and allow you to meet new people. I had the pleasure of competing in Archery across Ireland with UCC Archery Club, learning laparoscopic skills and how to use the Da Vinci Robot, making lifelong friends with UCC Slavic Society. Studying in Ireland also has the added benefit of being able to travel for lower costs and on shorter leaves. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to travel around Ireland, as well as visit over 10 countries and over 20 cities outside of Ireland during my time there.
After completing medical school, common options for further training tend to be applying to residency in Canada or the States, completing internship in Ireland, or foundation years in the UK. I had applied to Canada and interviewed for plastic surgery, general surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, and family medicine. I am grateful to have matched to an exciting family medicine program at Memorial in St. John’s, which includes a portion of training in Nunavut. Specialties that my classmates matched to include family medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine, radiology, anesthesiology, obstetrics, pathology, and general surgery. I had also secured a spot on the academic track internship in Cork, Ireland, as well as the academic track in Leeds, UK, as have some of my classmates.
With all that was said, I highly recommend applying to medical school in Ireland through Atlantic Bridge if you also have a dream to become a doctor, as I have. My experience has been one I will never forget, and I have made friends for a lifetime. Please reach out if you have any questions.
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