Where and what is your current position?
My current job is a Medical Officer (MO) in the Canadian Armed Forces. I’m just a couple months away from finishing up my MD. As an MO in the CAF, my day-to-day job is to go to school and finish my MD, so I’m basically a professional student. As a senior medical student, I have a role in whatever allied health team I happen to be working with, and that varies with each rotation. Typically, I’m seeing patients, developing a care plan, then reviewing all this with a preceptor, and ultimately implementing the plan.
Is your current career path as you originally intended?
I had originally intended to do a PhD in philosophy and work as a professor. A BA and an MA in philosophy definitely isn’t the usual path to a career in medicine (or the military), but it’s worked well for me.
How does this job relate to your graduate degree?
An important part of doctoring is critical thinking. Philosophy is a great foundation for seeing the errors in someone’s reasoning. Another would be ethics. Medicine is full of ethical dilemmas, so a solid foundation in ethical reasoning and the history of ethical debate is a real asset.
What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?
Doing an MA in philosophy was a natural progression from my BA and was part of my route toward a PhD and eventually teaching. UBC was a natural fit, as I already lived in Vancouver and knew the department.
What did you enjoy the most about your time as a graduate student at UBC?
The philosophy department at UBC is full of really welcoming faculty and graduate students. Going in every day was a lot of fun.
What are key things you did that contributed to your success?
I’ve always had a good sense of humour. It’s not always immediately obvious, but in hindsight, a good laugh can open a lot of doors. The best part is it works in all aspects of life, not just the professional. Laugh at yourself. Laugh at others. Laugh at the good and the bad. Even when things aren’t going well, keep working the problem, but take the time to laugh too. I’ve been in a lot of sticky situations, and can’t think of any that were worsened by laughter.
What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their future careers?
Don’t take yourself or your career too seriously. It’s just one part of your life, and there’s a risk of being too consumed by it. Then, before you know it, you can’t get that time back. You need to make time for the other stuff now – the career and money can wait. You can’t buy more time later. You can’t go back and enjoy your youth. Time is real currency.
Did you have any breaks in your education?
When I was doing my MA, I was training for and going on some high-altitude climbing expeditions. After my MA, I was busy with pre-requisites for med school, but took a couple of semesters off for some longer expeditions. These breaks were planned, and the time off was welcome. I was also able to use the time off regular studies to start my own charity, 7-Dollar-Lives, which was an effort to raise money for malaria-fighting mosquito nets for Africa. The inspiration had come from my travels, and I decided to sell all of my possessions and donate all of the proceeds, to try and inspire others to donate as well. The whole process of selling everything/having nothing may not have helped my career directly, but it made me a better person. And all of the traveling involved in these expeditions surely made me a better physician, if only by broadening my horizons, and allowing me to better relate to my patients. All told, I’m sure I’m better off for these breaks in terms of personal development, and I can’t think of any substantial benefit to graduating a year sooner.
How did you find out about/obtain your current position?
I got interested in medicine after reading an article about how understaffed for doctors the military was at one point, which was during our involvement in Afghanistan. I thought, no matter my view on foreign politics, these people were willing to put their lives on the line for their country and what they felt was the right thing to do. The more I thought about it, the more I realized this was something I could help with, and something that really appealed to me at the same time.
What do you like and what do you find challenging about your current position?
I get tremendous satisfaction from being able to help people. Sometimes it’s very procedural, and other times it’s just a matter of listening.