Students get first-hand look at careers in the health sciences
Over 150 students from 26 Montreal high schools and CEGEPs spent a recent Friday discovering career options in medicine. Despite the early morning hour, they eagerly listened as Keynote speaker Dr. Ann C. Macaulay, director of Participatory Research and professor of Family Medicine at McGill University, kicked off the day with her lecture My Journey as a Family Physician. The event was Discovery Day for students in Health Sciences, organized by the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, sponsored by TD, and hosted by the McGill Faculty of Medicine, the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital and the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC).
Dr. Macaulay, who was named 2008 Canadian Family Medicine Researcher of the Year by the College of Family Physicians of Canada , was showered with questions regarding her career path. ”They were very interested, and they had a wide variety of questions, which is wonderful. They were very curious.” Students wanted to know more about her experiences in Kahnawake, where she practiced as a family physician in the Mohawk community from 1970 to 2008 and was principal investigator of the very successful Kahnawake Schools Diabetes Prevention Project from 1994 to 2006. When asked what she considers most exciting in her practice, Dr. Macaulay replied, “If you stay somewhere for long enough, you can get to know four generations of the same family. It gives you the same sort of feeling as you get from your own family.”
At the very start of the day, health care professionals, including Dr. Saleem Razack, assistant dean of Admissions, and Dr. Robert Dunn associate director of Scientific Affairs at the Neuro, also shared their experiences and offered advice to students.
“What better way to introduce the next generation of leaders in health care and discovery to this crucial domain,” said Dr. Richard I. Levin, McGill’s vice-principal (Health Affairs) and dean of the Faculty of Medicine. We congratulate the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame for bringing this program to our city, and we are delighted to collaborate with it, the Neuro and the MUHC in opening our doors to these students.”
A mystery guest participated in the event this year: Dr. Phil Gold, the McGill Douglas G. Cameron Chair in Medicine. Dr. Gold recently joined the ranks of the other 76 Canadian Medical Hall of Fame laureates, inducted into the Hall of Fame for pushing the boundaries of knowledge in their unending efforts to improve human health. Gold’s accomplishments have made him the patriarch of onco-developmental biology. His other specialty is teaching the medical leaders of tomorrow.
“I think they represent our future,” said Dr. Gold. “If we don’t train these kids, if we don’t talk to them, if we don’t inspire them in some fashion, we’re going to lose them to other fields, and we need them very badly in medicine and the medical sciences.”
The students each participated in two hands-on workshops, which they had selected from an offering of twenty. The workshops, each led by some of Canada’s brightest scientific minds, took place in labs, classrooms and hospital settings close to the McGill campus. “It is through the support of these organizations that the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame is able to give students the chance to visit research labs, classrooms and surgical rooms, and find out what it’s really like to be a health professional,” said Janet Tufts executive director of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, of the collaborative efforts involved in the day’s activities. Workshop topics ranged from Feeding the Neurological Patient to Computer and Drug Discovery and So, you think you can talk!
For students like Samuel Morissette from Centennial Regional High School, the day served to confirm the choices already made. “I looked at stamping cells on a very, very small scale. It’s really cool! I’m probably going to go into a lab in the future,” he enthused.
The day wrapped up with a lively career panel discussion moderated by Penelope Kostopolous. During the discussion, students asked a variety of health care professionals about their daily activities, how they got to where they are today and what drives them to continue.
Among the participants in the discussion were Mr. Joseph Dahine (Medical Student; Student Ambassador for McGill Admissions Committee, Member of MMI Scenario Advisory Group Committee, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University), Dr. Heather Lambert (Faculty Lecturer, Occupational Therapy Program, School of Physical and Occupational Therapy, McGill University), Dr. Saleem Razack (Attending Physician, Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, Montreal Children’s Hospital; Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Assistant Dean of Admissions, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University), Dr. Patrice Roy (Executive Director, Director of Research and Development Quebec and Atlantic, Pfizer Canada), Dr. Judith Soicher (Director, Physical Therapy Program, School of Physical and Occupational Therapy, McGill University) and Dr. Guillermina Almazan (Professor and Graduate Program Director, Pharmacology & Therapeutics, McGill University).