Students excited to begin med school

Sarah Pruys

Two students from Fort Frances will enter the Northern Ontario School of Medicine this fall—a journey they both are excited to begin.
Kerri Stinson first completed her Bachelor of Kinesiology at the University of Manitoba before starting a two-year’s Master’s program at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay.
Out of the 2,000 applications for NOSM, Stinson was one of about 60 students who was accepted, prompting her to leave her Master’s program for medicine.
“I always knew that’s what I wanted to do,” she remarked. “That was the plan all along.”
“Since I was a kid, I always thought I wanted to do this.”
Stinson thought she would change her mind along the way and choose a different career path, but becoming a doctor remained her ideal job.
For Danielle Gustafson, becoming a doctor was not something she considered until high school.
“I was in high school and I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do,” she recalled.
“I loved science but I also loved teaching,” she explained. “[But] there didn’t seem to be an abundance of teaching jobs, so I went into the medical field—nursing—and I absolutely loved it and I wanted to continue on.
“I graduated nursing this spring and I got on at Riverside,” Gustafson added. “[But] once I found out I got into med school, I just took a contract for the summer.”
After her summer working as a registered nurse at La Verendrye Hospital here, Gustafson is looking forward to moving back to Thunder Bay, where she did her undergraduate degree in nursing at Lakehead University.
“I’m excited to go back to Thunder Bay,” she enthused. “I’m familiar with the city and I have lots of friends there.
“Starting a new, harder program is a little nerve-wracking,” she admitted. “But it’s more exciting than anything.
“I’m really looking forward to the next step.”
Gustafson recalled the day she found out she was accepted to the NOSM.
“That day is a bit of a blur because we knew that we were finding out on May 14 and so I barely slept the night before,” she said.
“When I found out, I was unbelievably excited . . . I was on the phone with everybody.
“It was a great feeling.”
“I’m pretty excited—a little nervous,” echoed Stinson.
“This was the only school I applied to,” she added. “It’s the one I really wanted to get into.
“The whole mandate of the school is geared towards Northern Ontario and getting doctors for the area,” Stinson explained.
“It seemed like a really good fit.
“They have a lot more hands-on stuff right away, you get to travel to different communities,” she added.
“It seemed more interesting than the other schools, where you just sit in a lecture all day Monday-Friday.”
The pair will be attending the NOSM campus affiliated with Lakehead University with about 30 other students. The other half of the freshman class will do their schooling at the Laurentian University campus in Sudbury.
“I chose this one for lots of reasons,” said Gustafson. “It does structure its programs different than other med schools in Ontario.
“It has a lot more placements, many more clinical hours, so I was really happy about that.
“They also have the best match rate for residency right now of all the med schools in Canada,” she added.
“I’m going to go into it and see what it’s like and what I’m interested in,” said Stinson, admitting she’s not sure if she will specialize yet.
It’s a different story for Gustafson.
“I know I’ll definitely specialize [though] I’m not sure what I’ll specialize in yet,” she remarked.
“I really like oncology, which is cancer care, and obstetrics, which is maternity and delivering babies,” she noted. “But I also like emergency medicine.
“If I get a feel for it, maybe even surgical.”
Gustafson said she’s looking at four years of medical school, then anywhere from three-five years for residency (if she was going to become a family physician, then her residency only would take two years).
While it still will be a long time before Stinson has to choose a place to practice, she said she definitely could see herself in a small town more than in a city.
“I would consider here or somewhere else in Northwestern Ontario,” she remarked.
“It will depend on where my family is in the future.”
“This is where I grew up and this will always be home to me, but it’s really hard to say what will happen in eight or nine years from now,” Gustafson replied when asked about returning to this area after her schooling.
Gustafson also recounted the long process of getting accepted into the NOSM, and thanked everyone who helped her along the way.
“Our applications were due Oct. 1, 2012,” she recalled. “And then we found out in the first week of February that we were accepted for an interview, and then we had an interview in April.
“My interview was an hour and 50 minutes long,” she noted. “It is a really long interview, and you have 10 different people interviewing you that know nothing about you.
“It wouldn’t have been possible without all of the great people in town that have helped me over the years, either that were references or that I worked alongside with,” Gustafson stressed.
“I couldn’t have gotten in without the help of everybody I worked with in the community and in Thunder Bay,” she acknowledged.