To gain exposure to the hospital setting and experience patient interaction first-hand, I took initial steps towards the medical profession by volunteering at a local hospital. As a volunteer, I learned to exercise meticulous care during medication preparation, and enjoyed conversing with patients and easing their discomfort while transporting them to various procedures. In the process of supplementing this experience with a 6-month cooperative work placement and other volunteer positions held at world-renown teaching hospitals in Canada (e.g., St. Michael’s, Toronto General), I soon realized that to provide the highest quality of care, doctors had to be strong team players in addition to being effective leaders. Despite demonstrating solid interpersonal skills and the ability to cooperate well with others while serving on the high school student council and concert band, it was the three years I worked as a Peer Academic Advisor (PASS) at Queen’s University that truly made me appreciate the value of teamwork. As a group of only 12 advisors assisting hundreds of anxious first-year undergraduates, it was clear that we were able to aid students more thoroughly and effectively by combining our own unique expertise and strengths to function as a collaborative unit.
In addition to refining my ability to be a great team member (an essential skill in medicine’s future of team-based care), my involvement with PASS gave me an opportunity to strengthen my communication skills. By displaying professionalism, active interest, and empathy when students discussed their concerns, I was able to elicit trust, accurately identify problems, and work with each student to resolve all issues. After 2 years of serving as an advisor, my continual demonstrations of maturity, reliability, and exemplary qualities both as a team player and a leader, led to my appointment as the Coordinator. Now as the leader, I successfully managed my team, resolved conflicts, fostered group cohesiveness through motivation, and delegated effectively.
Besides my steadfast commitment to aiding first-years, I was also deeply involved in attacking the stigma of mental illness throughout my undergraduate and graduate studies. Having been disturbed by the ignorance and misconceptions towards mental health issues present among my well-educated peers and professors, I vowed to respond to the pressing need for acceptance and understanding on campus, and in the wider Kingston community. Despite being a part of a Mental Health Awareness Committee that employed different means to attack the warped perceptions about mental illness (e.g., speakers, documentaries, fundraising events, Q & A panels), I suspected that there was still a significant barrier preventing our access to a portion of the victims, as well as the individuals harboring negative views. In an attempt to breakthrough to these populations