Overcoming Obstacles

by Salwa Farooqi, Class of 2T1

The transition to medical school was challenging but reasonable as I had previously experienced a similar transition when completing a Bachelor of Health Sciences and then going on to a Masters in Health Research Methodology. However, when I started medical school, I often felt that I was living life from one exam to the next.

After a few months, I realized I needed to achieve balance. I connected with upper years, sought out mentors and learned how to organize my time to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Now, I no longer hesitate to go on that fishing trip with my family, and I say yes to dinner with friends because my learning can happen when I plan my time efficiently.

I have many physicians who I aspire to mirror as a clinician. An ongoing role model for me is Dr. Modupe Tunde-Byass, an obstetrician-gynecologist who did her postgraduate training at U of T.

During the pandemic, Dr. Tunde-Byass helped me hone my idea of creating a platform for disseminating educational materials for women. With Dr. Tanzila Basrin, a family and emergency physician, we co-founded Women’s Health Education Made Simple (WHEMS) in response to the barriers women face in health care delivery.

I lead and mentor a team of nine under the guidance of these physicians and deliver online, evidence-based medical information presented by health care professionals across Ontario. WHEMS received two awards for its innovative response in these uncertain times.

But it’s the MAA Dr. Ruth Kurdyak CMF Bursary that is allowing me to work toward my goal of being a physician and giving back to my community. One day I hope to pay it back to someone who, like me, needs financial help.

This bursary meant even more to me when my father passed away suddenly during preclerkship. He was the pillar of our household, a symbol of strength and sacrifice. His emotional and financial support meant everything to me in my journey to become the first physician in our family.

While my father’s passing was a challenging experience to go through during medical training, I continue to persevere. I am committed to my mission of becoming a physician and supporting people during vulnerable times, just as the intensivist who looked after my father did. With my personal experience with loss, empathy comes naturally to me as does the drive to advocate for my patients. I am the legacy my father left behind.

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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