Find My Path: Interview with Ali Hachem pt.2

So remember Ali? Well, we're back with a part 2 where we delve into what life was like for him in med school and later in residency.

Just a brief bio synopsis of Ali. He's a medical doctor that specializes in Internal Medicine. Ali acquired his MD degree from Central Michigan University, where he then went on to complete his residency. For more about Ali’s story - click the link to part 1!

As you probably noted from the two-part series, my call with Ali was quite informative. I mean how can you summarize 11 years into one discussion? Well, we somehow managed to. After discussing his journey to med school, I had to ask about how he got through it. That led to us discussing how he came to deciding on his residency. He could honestly not remember.

Ali is quite technically skilled, making him think that surgery was where he would end up. As rotations kept going, his interest in other fields was growing. That prompted me to ask Ali if there was a criteria he had when choosing his residency to be in Internal Medicine. “Well, there’s a lot to think about. When deciding your residency, you need to consider what lifestyle you want to lead, the number of work hours you’d have, who you’d work with, the rate of patient follow-up. Are you looking to work in acute or long-term care? Even that criteria can be a bit too broad because you can get further specializations within your residency choice. So that is why it is quite important that you expose yourself to as much of the experience as possible. Conducting your own research and networking can be great ways for you to get your hands on tangible knowledge to build your decision off of.”

I had to take a minute at this point in the interview. Not only because I had to note all the information down, but I needed a moment to process it. Those seemed like obvious things to me, but only when Ali spoke them into existence. So I had to ask Ali, did he fully get to think through these? Short answer was no, “there are things that you don’t get counselled on.”

That was a nice segway into the next question I had planned to ask him - what would be something he would have liked to change about the medical school process? That is when he had to take a minute. Worth it though. The answer he gave, I believe, would be of use to many of you out there. Firstly, look for a school that relies on problem-based teaching rather than “death by PowerPoint”. The context will allow you to foster relationships, which Ali urges that you do. “You need to introduce yourself to ways that allow you to best-set workplace relationships. [Relationships] instil characteristics and skills that allow you to work in a multi-professional setting”. Which there seems to be a lot in medicine! Secondly, he wishes that there would be more mentoring as to what life as a doctor would be like. There seems to be a curtain that hides how much there is to medicine, more than just seeing your patient. “There’s a ton of paperwork you have to do, meetings [to attend], as well as dealing with politics surrounding insurance companies..etc.” There seems to be a need for better counselling on how important those parts are, and how to ensure that your patient remains your priority. His suggestion was having a panel with top 6 specialities where you hear about “a day in the life of..”. Maybe that’s something you can suggest in your future medical school?!

I could understand that being in the process of med school, all those questions could go unasked. Not only are you going through rotations that affect your daily schedule and routine preferences, but your rotations are of different lengths. They’re where you’re trying to impress. You’re working hard to make sure you’re doing things right. Outside of your rotations, you’re still going to be taking classes that you need to excel in. Because guess what? You need to have a competitive profile when applying for residency. Ali put it best when he said: “if you don't get into medicine from the first try, you can still reapply and get in. Applying to residency is different. That's your career. And it's very competitive and gets tougher with each year. It's a scramble match if you don't get it in the first year [of applying]”.

We hope to feature YOUR journey to med school on our blog. Check out how Find My School can help you get there!

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