May 26, 2020

The Wightman-Berris Academy

Transition Blog
Toronto General Hospital

What makes the Wightman-Berris (WB) Academy unique? We ask our current students to share their experiences. 

What stood out for you at WB?

1. Size - Wightman-Berris is the largest academy at the faculty of medicine at UofT. We have found that everyone in WB is close with each other with the advantage that you will have the opportunity to mingle with a larger proportion of the class at WB events and academic sessions.

2. Location - The majority of WB’s anchor hospitals such as the UNH network and Mount Saini are all located in walking distance from campus. Even the other hospitals which WB services that are a bit further away such as Bridgepoint and Toronto Western, are all easily accessible with transit; and their unique patient populations definitely make up for the short commute. Honestly, we cannot stress how great it is to have your hospitals in walking distance from campus if you like to live in Toronto/downtown core while studying.

3. Food - WB is the closest academy to campus and naturally, restaurants and food vendors aggregate around universities. When you’re in our academy, it's really hard not to find a nearby cuisine you fancy. We try to be adventurous and have lunch at different places everyday, and we recommend the same!

4. Research - Another perk of having the most diverse hospital network means that WB students will have easier access to an array of research opportunities. All of the hospitals in the WB academy have their own associated research institute which will allow inclined students to seek out opportunities from day one. Furthermore, the unique patient populations served by the various hospitals in WB means that students will not have an issue finding opportunities that are interesting to them.

5. Study space - Another perk of being the academy that serves the most hospitals is the added access to all the unique study places. Each hospital has their own associated libraries and learning rooms which only learners have access to. One of these places that we use is the Helliwell center at TGH. The rooms are open 24/7, can accommodate large groups, and there are clinical exam rooms equipped with all the necessary tools. These sites are very helpful when it comes to practicing clinical skills before OSCE’s with your peers.

WB Student Reza F, 2T2

How do students feel learning at WB?

My name is Reza and I am a medical student who is part of the Wightman-Berris (WB) academy. I initially ranked WB first in my academy selection for a multitude of reasons which have all been reinforced by my experience here. One of the reasons I chose WB was for the great learning environment. At WB we have access to some of the top hospital sites within the University Health Network (UHN) such as Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital and Michael Garron Hospital, as well as Mount Sinai Hospital. These sites are all top-ranked with their own unique strengths, and have allowed me as a learner to see a very diverse patient population and rare cases and presentations. The location of the learning environments is also a huge plus. Having the hospital sites within walking distance is really nice especially when you have weekly 8AM clinical skills sessions. Also, the number of sites we have access to provides us with tons of 24/7 study space access. This has been super helpful when I have needed to study for my exams or practice my clinical skills and having them close to home also makes it much easier to motivate yourself and stay later if its needed. Research opportunities also come plentiful at WB, with countless unique projects going on, if you have an interest, chances are you can find a supervisor that is doing it. WB helped connect me with my current research supervisor based on my interests, and I know several of my colleagues that have also been connected through the academy. WB is also the largest academy. This might scare people as they may feel as though there would be a lack of community. My experience here has been anything but that. Having more students in our academy has allowed me to meet more diverse people and provided me the opportunity to make some lasting friendships. We also have pub nights, Christmas parties and other social gatherings to foster community. Our academy director is also always available for WB students, and I know that I have talked with Dr. Tzanetos on numerous occasions for inquires on career exploration, research opportunities, and more personal matters. For anyone thinking if WB is right for them, I can say that through my experience I would highly recommend WB to all future UofT med students.

- Reza F, 2T2