Admissions Blog: Meet our 2018 Admissions Reps
Alison Green and Michael Elfassy are 3rd year medical students at the University of Toronto. In their 2nd year, they were selected as the student representatives for the MD Program Admissions Committee. Their responsibilities included contributing to and voting on admissions policies, evaluating applicant files, acting as ambassadors for the Program by giving presentations and speaking to prospective applicants, coordinating interview days, creating the 2018 admissions video and much more! They took a break out of their busy schedules to chat with the admissions team about their path to medical school, and their experiences since.
Note: This is part one of the interview with Mike and Ali. In the coming weeks, we will be sharing their expert advice on applying to medical school!
Have you always planned on going to medical school? What sparked your interest in becoming a physician?
I hadn’t always planned on going to medical school but it was always something that I had considered as I started to figure out what I was interested in and what careers aligned with those interests. I was and still am very interested in the social determinants of health and the way in which they influence the health of marginalized populations, so following my undergraduate degree I pursued a Master of Public Health. Though I love public health and the upstream, system-level thinking it involves, I knew I still wanted those meaningful one-on-one relationships, like the ones physicians develop with their patients. Medicine really allowed for me to combine my interests in public health with my desire to be a clinician and advocate for patients at both the individual and population levels.
Growing up, I was always more focused on athletic and extracurricular activities than on academics. In addition, no one in my family pursued a university education, so medical school was never really on my radar. From a young age, however, I knew that whatever path I pursued in life would need to revolve around people. As I progressed through my studies, my interests evolved from applied science in undergrad to my graduate studies in global health, where I strived to solve complex system-level health issues with a holistic, integrative approach. I’m grateful this path led me to medicine, which gives me the privilege to promote health and effect meaningful change at every societal level - from local to global.
Why did you choose to come to U of T?
There were so many reasons to choose UofT but I think for me it came down to the curriculum and the city. Right away from my interview and learning about the Foundations curriculum I could tell that UofT was a school that places value on its students leading balanced lifestyles and exploring both their academic and non-academic interests. Foundations had the best of both worlds for me - structure in the form of didactic lectures and small group teaching, as well as flexibility through online self-directed learning. This allows students to learn at their own pace and make time for the things they like to do outside of the classroom - whether that’s research, volunteering, sports or spending time with friends and family. Secondly, the City of Toronto and its diversity was also a huge sell for me. Having the opportunity to study here gives you a unique exposure to people of all different walks of life and with different medical and social complexities, which I think is something you can’t learn in textbooks or find at many other Canadian medical schools!
So many reasons, but I’ll try to break them down into 3 categories: the city, the Program, and most importantly, the people. Toronto is an amazing place to live and learn medicine. The city is so diverse that there is something for everyone! All the different kinds of entertainment, cuisines, cultures, and scenery make the experience of living in Toronto incredibly rich. Next, our program has recently adopted a cutting edge curriculum, called Foundations. The format allows for an integrated approach to learning, combining in-class lectures, case-based learning, self-directed online and experiential education, and clinical skills. The curriculum revolves around blocks, where you are able to use different modalities of learning to tackle a specific subject. I enjoy this way of learning as it really helps to consolidate the material. For example, we are able to learn the pathophysiology of heart disease in lecture, apply lessons to real cases in small groups, learn the precordial exam in clinical skills, dissect a heart in anatomy, and learn from real patients what it is like to live with heart disease all in the same week! Lastly, from the level of the Dean all the way down to your student colleagues, everyone is incredibly supportive. I have made some of my best friends in medical school, and sometimes I wonder how U of T regularly fills their classes with such amazing people!
About Ali and Mike
|Alison did her undergraduate degree in Life Sciences at Queen’s University, followed by a Master of Public Health degree at Western University. She is looking forward to combining her interests in public health and medicine to address social inequities in health and promote the health of marginalized populations.||Michael did his undergraduate degree in Kinesiology and Health Sciences at York University, followed by a Master’s degree in Global Health at McMaster University. He looks forward to using integrative healthcare strategies to tackle the unique challenges that lie ahead in an increasingly complex patient population.|