University of Calgary

A day in the life

UToday HomeDecember 17, 2012

By Kathryn Sloniowski

First-year medical students (right) show high school students (left) how to measure blood pressure. Photo by Amy DowdFirst-year medical students Miguel Nunez (far right) and Mark Elliott (far left) show high school students how to measure blood pressure. Photo by Amy DowdOn Dec. 13, high school students from Calgary and surrounding rural areas got a first-hand glimpse of where a career in medicine begins: as a medical student.

A Day in the Life of a Medical Student is an annual event organized by the Calgary Medical Student Association’s Student Affairs that invites high school students to participate in various medical school-related activities through the Faculty of Medicine. Led by first-year medical students, participants got to partake in small group sessions — where they discussed various lecture topics and learned about physical exam components, like measuring blood pressure.

“We like to think of it as helping to shape future doctors,” says Lauren Lam, vice-president of student affairs in the Faculty of Medicine, a position she shares with Kimber Thornton. “We might not see the impact of this event tomorrow — or even next year — but it’s important to foster students’ interests and get them thinking about medicine.”

Because of the need for rural physicians, Lam and Thornton extended the invitation to high school students in rural communities in an effort to expose them to medical training opportunities, while letting them know about additional support available to students from outside Calgary.

Thornton and Lam wanted to use the event to show students that it’s possible to pursue medicine from various angles, and that interested students aren’t limited to studying traditional science courses.

“We wanted to show participants that it’s possible to pursue medicine in different ways, and that you can think about it from a broader perspective,” says Thornton.

More than a dozen members of the Faculty of Medicine’s class of 2015 — with backgrounds in education, engineering, arts, allied health professions and research — spoke to students as part of the welcome speech, emphasizing the broader perspective of medical education and training.

The event’s morning snack was sponsored by the Rural Physician Action Plan — a group that also spoke to participants about rural medicine. The event drew 150 high school students, with 21 participants from rural communities.

The event was made possible through generous support from the University of Calgary Bookstore, Dinos Athletics, Active Living, the Health Sciences Library, the Faculty of Medicine’s Office of Student Affairs, the Department of Family Medicine, and Distributed Learning and Rural Initiatives.