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Undergraduate students gear up for medical school

Lauren Chan (right) and Shannon Wong (left) will start at the Queen's School of Medicine next September.

For many in the Faculty of Arts and Science at Queen’s, second year marks the halfway point of a student’s undergraduate degree. For Shannon Wong and Lauren Chan (both Artsci’17), however, second year is their final year in Arts and Science before they join the Queen’s School of Medicine next September.

Both Ms. Wong and Ms. Chan are members of the first cohort of students in the Queen’s University Accelerated Route to Medical School (QuARMS) – an educational initiative spearheaded by Richard Reznick, Dean of Health Sciences, which admits 10 students to medical school after only two years of undergraduate study in the Faculty of Arts and Science at Queen’s. The pair will join the Class of 2019 next fall.

In addition to their undergraduate classes, Ms. Wong, Ms. Chan and their fellow eight QuARMS students  have been exposed to experiential learning strategies aimed at honing their skills in advocacy, communication, collaboration and professionalism – all of which they will need during medical school and throughout their medical careers.

“For a while I had considered applying to medical school in another country but the Canadian system of medicine really focuses on patient care, and the Queen’s School of Medicine has such a great community, that I wanted to apply,” says Ms. Chan.

Shannon Wong assists in a caesarian section in Winneba Municipal Hospital in Ghana
Shannon Wong assists in a caesarian section in Winneba Municipal Hospital in Ghana

For both Ms. Wong and Ms. Chan, an important part of the QuARMS initiative is the freedom to take a variety of different classes in Arts and Science – their favourite class is their law elective.

“We’re able to pick electives that really interest us and there’s a strong focus on becoming a well-rounded student both in class and extra-curriculars,” says Ms. Wong. “Neither of us feel as though we’re being pigeon-holed into science.”

When it comes to extra-curricular activities, the pair volunteer at Providence Care – Ms. Wong in geriatric psychiatry and Ms. Chan in palliative care. Best Buddies, Free The Children, Soul Food, intramural volleyball and medical research are just a few of the additional activities Ms. Wong and Ms. Chan are involved in at Queen’s.

In addition to their classes and work on the soft skills associated with a career in medicine, Ms. Wong and Ms. Chan spend a couple of hours a week engaging in a mentorship program where they learn from members of the medical community at Queen’s. Students from each year of QuARMS are put into mentorship groups and then assigned two working physicians who mentor them throughout their time in the initiative.

Lauren Chan shows students from Toronto lab techniques at The Hospital for Sick Children.
Lauren Chan shows students from Toronto lab techniques at The Hospital for Sick Children.

A favourite part of the mentorship program for Ms. Wong and Ms. Chan are the fireside chats where members from the Faculty of Medicine at Queen’s share their insight with the 10 QuARMS students.

“One of the things I love about QuARMS is that there are so many people to talk to if you ever need advice. I’ve never felt lost because of all the support made available to us,” says Ms. Chan. “I’ve also met people in all phases of their medical education. Making connections like this has been incredibly valuable to me.”

As Ms. Wong and Ms. Chan gear up for the remainder of their undergraduate education they’re mentoring the new younger class of QuARMS students and working in community organizations as part of their preparation for medical school.

“We’re both nervous for medical school, but also very excited,” says Ms. Wong. “QuARMS has been a great success in preparing us in different, but all applicable ways, for medical school.”

For more information on the QuARMS educational initiative, see the Undergraduate Admission website.