Nebras Warsi is a first year medical student at McGill University. He was born in England but spent a part of his life growing up in Saskatchewan. As an undergraduate at McGill University, and after his mother moved to Montreal, he was able to apply to McGill as an in-province student.
McGill Tribune: How did you know you wanted to go into medicine?
Nebras Warsi: “I came to McGill and did my undergraduate in Neuroscience. During that time, I just started volunteering with the community and seeing the types of things I could do for people. As I grew up, I shadowed some physicians and I knew that I loved my science classes. It all came together where I knew it was a type of career where I could really do everything that I was passionate about. When I look back at those four years of university, it built up. Every experience, every extra curricular that I did—they all added more to my drive to want to be a physician.”
MT: A lot of people worry about having the “perfect package” to apply to medical school, what do you think about this?
NW: “There are a lot of ways you can get the skills to be a good leader, a good communicator, and someone who wants to care for people. I have friends who have done undergrad [degrees] in kinesiology, French literature, or science. It’s really up to you. Some people have done a ton of research and published a ton, and some people have done none because they’re not interested. As long as you are not sitting at home and doing absolutely nothing—I’d say you need to do something—there is no formula for it.”
NW: “I did student council, because I liked being able to serve the community as a volunteer. I liked being able to discover new things as a researcher and I liked being able to lead a team. But if you’re interested in global health, outreach programs, or working with the homeless [you should get involved]. It does not have to be medically related, as long as it is something that you are passionate about and is driving you into medicine.”
MT: How important do you think your GPA is to the application?
NW: “[I know] I got a few interviews because I know my GPA is high. So it definitely helps, but I would not say it is necessary. If you have a lower GPA, but because you have been doing all of these things that you are really interested in, then I think that’s fine [.…] [A] 4.0 is kind of unrealistic—there aren’t many people that I know that have one. You don’t need to have a 4.0 to get in.”
MT: You’re in the first year of McGill’s new medical program—how do you like it?
NW: “I love the new curriculum, but I obviously don’t know the old one. Before, the program was like an undergrad 2.0, where there was a lot of material and information to know. What they have tried to do is make it more clinically relevant now, so we’ll work with a family doctor every two weeks. It’s kind of the best thing, because while we’re in the respiratory block, we’ll learn the respiratory exam, but then we’ll get to go work with patients and take their vitals, take their history, do the respiratory exam; we’ll do cardio and then do the cardio exam—it really helps the information stick and stay with you a bit longer.”
MT: Did you ever consider PhD MD programs?
NW: “I was actually going to apply to that, but in the end I decided against it. Although I kind of still want to be a physician scientist, personally it was a little bit difficult to decide this early. A lot of physician scientists will do 80 per cent of time in research but then one half day clinical. But that’s not what I really wanted. I want to be first and foremost a clinical physician who sees patients most of the time and then does some research. I think that might be more of an MD-MSC thing to do, or to grab a PhD afterwards, but it is very possible in your residency program to get [another degree].”
MT: What type of medicine do you want to pursue?
NW: “I am super interested in neuroscience. At the same time, I am just a medical student interested in everything I am learning. They say you change your mind a minimum of eight times, so I don’t really know yet.”