Switching to a Premed Student in Canada

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Session 179

Today, our poster is asking about taking some prereqs when you’re applying to a Canadian school. All your questions are taken directly from the Nontrad Premed Forum so be sure to register for an account if you haven’t yet.

[00:48] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

“To preface this, I’m in Canada so some of the requirements and language might be a little different. I’m currently finishing my third year of an undergrad degree in psychology and criminology but I’ve decided that I would rather pursue a career in medicine, possibly in the field of psychiatry.

The problem is, my degree is a bachelor of arts and therefore, I haven’t taken any science courses since high school. Most of the medical schools in my province don’t have specific course prerequisites, just minimum MCAT scores. If this is something I want to pursue, am I better to finish my degree and go back for a DIY post bacc? Maybe do some kind of science or health science program at a college? Or get a second degree? Or just teach myself the material required to take the MCAT?

Also, because I had planned out a different career, all of my experience is centered around psychology. I’ve done internships at psychologists’ offices and helped run group therapy sessions and that sort of thing. Is there any way to transfer this experience and make it applicable to my new career goals?”

[01:50] Is the Experience Transferable?

First off, this is actually applicable for anybody in the states as well. So this is a good question for any nontrad student looking to switch careers.

The experience is transferable to being a premed. Running group therapy sessions is clinical experience. It’s not medicine. It’s psychology. But it’s still clinical experience with patients. This would be good to be a part of your activities when you’re appyling to medical school.

Running group therapy sessions is clinical experience.”

However, don’t just lean on that for the only clinical experience that you have. You want real clinical experience around medical patients and not psychology patients. But it’s still great patient care.

[02:58] Taking Prereqs

Whether you’re in Canada or the U.S., having a Bachelor of Arts  is fine. You only need to have the prereqs. The Canadian medical schools are very provincial. This is just like there are public state schools in the U.S. that are very much likely to accept students from that state. The schools in Canada mostly have provincial preferences. There are exceptions of course.

If the schools in the province don’t have prereqs, then you don’t need to take them. But you might want to take them anyway. Unless you can learn all those easily for the MCAT, then at least doing some basic stuff.

Knowing how hard the MCAT is, I would at least take the courses for a solid foundation in Bio, Biochem, Physiology, Chemistry, Physics – just to have those under your belt.

“Unless you’re an amazing self-studier and you can just go by the books, it’s possible. But it’s really hard.”

[05:36] The CARS Section

In Canada, most of the schools really just care about your CARS section. They’re really open about this too. So you may just crush the CARS section right off the bat on the diagnostic.

In this case, you can go and talk to the schools and tell them about your background in Psychology and Criminology. Then you’ve now decided that you want to become a physician. So ask them whether they only care about the CARS and then you can take the MCAT and you’ll be fine.

[06:45] Do Some Shadowing and Clinical Experience

Shadowing is really hard in Canada but this is very important. Clinical experience is just as important.

“You really want to be sure about why you want to be a physician.”

Back on Episode 333, I had a Canadian premed student named Emma. She went to the Caribbean and talked about how she got shadowing in Canada. She first volunteered at the hospital. Then she used that to leverage some shadowing. So while shadowing in Canada is harder than in the states, it’s definitely doable.

Get some clinical experience and some shadowing so that you can truly understand that this is something that you want.

[07:35] Final Thoughts

You don’t necessarily need to go back and take all the prereqs. It would obviously help you with your science sections. But it’s not going to help for your CARS and Psych/Soc. There is some physiology in psychology and sociology so you may get hurt a bit there.

Again, most schools in Canada really only care about the CARS section. Try taking a diagnostic now and reach out to the schools. Let them know what your plans are and see what they say.


Nontrad Premed Forum

PMY 333: From Canada to the Caribbean to the US