February 9, 2020 – Today, marks the final day of a three week period of time in which medical students from across the country have ventured far and wide to a multitude of Canadian cities to interview for prospective medical residency training positions in the hopes of being able to train and fulfill the requirements to practice medicine independently one day. It is a journey that many within medical education and the medical profession are familiar with, but it can be hard to comprehend for others why such a system exists.
It is my hope to shed some light on an experience that our Canadian medical doctors go through to be able to have the privilege and opportunity to care for patients and a community.
I hope to share a story about empathy, and of hard work and dedication.
A sense of stillness and calm sits with me as I now reflect upon a truly one of a kind experience that is hard to describe and capture fully in its entirety. A unique mixture of emotions coloured a journey that felt at times much too long and difficult, and at others felt like reassurance and gratefulness for the opportunity.
Speaking on my own experiences, I found myself journeying to many interviews, often back to back, with detailed travel plans that were complicated with weather-related cancellations and other obstacles along the road. I think of the many friends and my family along the way that provided me with drives to and from the airport (or the bus station, or the train station) and provided me with a couch, bed, or air mattress to rest on. These people welcomed me into their homes and their cities with open arms, as I questioned myself if I could imagine living in said city for the next few years of my training, and possibly longer.
Just after the halfway mark, I found myself emotionally drained and exhausted.
I poured my heart out at the multitude of interviews I attended, sharing my story of who I believed I have become and the professional that I seek to become. My passions, my interests, my previous experiences were critiqued and questioned. My suitability and capabilities were assessed and evaluated. I was drained of my energy to have meaningful conversations and genuinely discuss interesting ideas.
I felt the process had dehumanized me and left me as a shell of who I once was or that I believed myself to be.
The experience of travelling around the beautiful country of Canada we all call home, is an unbelievable privilege and opportunity. The carbon footprint swallowed by the planet and the economic cost to the individual already in much debt of a medical learner, are also not to be ignored (Kevin, a medical student in B.C., actually sought out to study the environmental impacts of the Canadian medical residency interview tour: https://mycarmsfootprint.com/).
This process happens every year, with many ideas thrown around to improve it. I leave these decisions to many thoughtful and empathic leaders and advocates within medical education that are shaping a process that better meets the needs of everyone involved to train the best possible healthcare professionals to care for Canadians.
I suppose the purpose of this journal entry is that I hope to convey the importance of empathy for our healthcare professionals and trainees that dedicate and sacrifice so very much to be the best they can be, to create the best training possible, to be able to deliver compassionate quality healthcare services to Canadians.
Canadian medical students across the country will find out Tuesday, March 03, 2020, at 12:00:00 ET where they will continue their training as a medical resident doctor.