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What a difference a year makes

When asked to sum up the past 12 months, North York General Hospital (NYGH) medical student Kate Stead beams. “In a word, it's been amazing,” she says. “I've had an incredible experience.”
 
Medical student Kate Stead recently completed her third year as a University of Toronto medical student at North York General Hospital.

Medical student Kate Stead says she'll always remember her time at the hospital warmly. “I really found that people were very committed to teaching and learning here. I feel very fortunate to have had this experience.”

Kate recently completed her third year as a University of Toronto medical student at North York General. In order to become practising physicians, medical students must complete a clerkship, or rotation, in a hospital setting. Last fall, she became one of the first-ever students at North York General toparticipate inthe University of Toronto's Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship (LInC) program. This program enables students to study multiple disciplines simultaneously, rather than the traditional block clerkships where medical students practise one discipline at a time. See an October 2015 Pulse article on Kate and the LInC program.

Deciding to take a chance and become one of the hospital's four students in the pilot wasn't an issue for Kate. “What really appealed to me was that I could follow an individual patient's health care journey,” she remembers. “As I was practising multiple disciplines at the same time, I was able to advocate for a patient's care in a holistic way and monitor his or her progress. You get a sense of their perspective and their needs.”

Another highlight was the special bond she formed with her preceptors (health professionals who teach and mentor). LiNC students stay with their multiple preceptors throughout the year, rather than moving from discipline to discipline. “It's so nice to be able to have this type of mentorship throughout the year,” says Kate. “They were there right at the beginning when we were new. They've been with us as we've grown as medical students.”

New focus on general surgery

The biggest transformation for Kate is a new focus on general surgery. When she first started at North York General, Kate had her sights set on becoming a family physician in a smaller community setting. While she's still drawn to the smaller communities, she's realized practising general surgery is what really appeals to her. “Surgery is just fascinating to me,” Kate says. “I think it's the problem solving and the feeling and connection of helping someone in the moment.”

While it's not unusual for medical students to change their focus, Dr. Clare Hutchinson, physician lead of NYGH's LInC program, says the program really helps foster their professional identity formation during a critical time in their training. “Training in all specialties occurs simultaneously over the year,” Dr. Hutchinson says. “As a student develops their identity as a physician, they are able to integrate knowledge from all specialities, leading to more well-rounded care.”

While Kate is looking forward to medical training at various other institutions, she says she'll always remember her time at the hospital warmly. “I really found that people were very committed to teaching and learning here,” she says. “I feel very fortunate to have had this experience.”

October 4, 2016

This article first appeared in the October 2016 issue of The Pulse, North York General Hospital's community newsletter. Subscribe to receive 10 issues per year.

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