On Becoming a Physician

By Darren Fernandes (Class of 2T3)

I was nine years old when my parents first took me to a public library. We had substantial financial difficulties at the time because we had just come to Canada from India. However, the science books in the library let me imagine future possibilities beyond my family’s financial circumstances.

By immersing myself in the stories of Dr. Jonas Salk and Dr. Frederick Banting – physicians who used the power of science to advance medicine – I began to dream of a future where I could pursue a similar goal.

I completed a BSc in Integrated Science at McMaster University, with a concentration in physics. Then I did a PhD in Medical Biophysics at U of T.

On entering med school, I quickly realized that procrastination is a death sentence. Still, I found getting rid of this ingrained habit quite challenging. While I am much better now, as a difficult exam approaches it is not uncommon for me to “stress clean” my house instead of buckling down to study.

What I find the most challenging about med school, though, is knowing that every disease I learn about is a real cause of distress to someone. It is more than a statistic, list of signs and symptoms, and findings on investigations – it is a source of anxiety, a life permanently changed, and a family that will never be the same. This challenge inspires me to be my best so I can help people deal with their circumstances and live the life they choose.

Med school is also exciting because it gives me the chance to work with my fellow students, all of whom are highly motivated to be a positive force in the community. My ability to work well with people from different educational backgrounds and diverse talents is something I take pride in, as well as strive to improve. It is truly a blessing to get the opportunity to work with such bright students; I know that together, we can accomplish great things for society.

The reason that I am able to pursue my calling is because of the generous support of funds, such as the 2020 MAA Dr. Ruth Kurdyak and Family Bursary. Financial challenges are always just around the corner for students such as myself, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The MAA’s generous support allows me to focus on trying to be the best doctor I can be. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Medical Alumni Association

of the University of Toronto
The MAA is an independent association funded by U of T MD alumni, working in partnership with the Temerty Faculty of Medicine. 

The MAA provides financial assistance to medical students and connects alumni.
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