Paving the road to medical school with hands-on learning

How selecting a program based on passion and opportunity can lead to success

With a combined passion for learning and helping others, Kelsey knew the health care field would be a perfect fit. When selecting an undergraduate program, she was interested in the sciences, yet also wanted a program that would challenge her academically while providing an opportunity to gain knowledge and valuable work experience. With its broad scope and active approach to health and wellness, Waterloo’s Kinesiology program checked all the boxes.

I wanted a strong academic program that would push me to learn more. Medicine is always evolving. This lack of stasis meant there would always be something new to excite me as well as help my patients.

Kelsey, BSc 2018

Hands-on learning through small classes and labs

Kelsey credits Waterloo’s small classes and labs for providing countless hands-on learning opportunities to hone and perfect her clinical skills. During her first-year anatomy lab she gained experience studying human cadavers – something virtually unheard of during the early years at most universities. Learning from instructors who leverage the most current and relevant research in their teaching, Kelsey felt so supported and inspired that she returned to the lab as a teaching assistant later in her studies.

She also developed critical soft skills such as listening, communication and how to become a team player – a must for health care professionals consistently working within interdisciplinary teams. “You can study basic science if you haven’t seen it before, but developing soft skills takes time,” notes Kelsey. “I’m fortunate for the many opportunities I had to work on mine at Waterloo”.

 

A Waterloo student in a kinesiology lab.

Kelsey spent her co-op terms collaborating directly with physicians and organizing a series of informational exercise videos for individuals with osteoporosis.

Real-world experience through co-op

To expand her clinical skill set, Kelsey participated in co-op, earning almost two years of professional experience. She worked as a research assistant in two different medical facilities. She spent her co-op terms collaborating directly with physicians and organizing a series of informational exercise videos for individuals with osteoporosis, and as a student kinesiologist performing therapeutic treatments and teaching rehabilitative techniques.

“The opportunity to gain work experience and apply that knowledge was invaluable," says Kelsey. "Co-op was one of the best parts of my undergrad and taught me many life skills that have helped me get to where I am today."

If you love what you’re doing, you’re more likely to succeed and have a happy and healthy four-plus years.

Kelsey, BSc 2018

A Waterloo student learning about organs in a class.

Kelsey credits Waterloo’s small classes and labs for providing countless hands-on learning opportunities to hone and perfect her clinical skills.

An (untraditional) path to medical school

Now in her second year of medical school, Kelsey is committed to debunking the myth that only traditional undergrad programs can open the door to medicine. Kelsey stresses it was her desire to help others and her commitment to finding a program that aligned with her passions and interests that led to her decision to pursue Kinesiology.

“There are no true pre-med programs anymore” says Kelsey. “Choose a program that you’re interested in and a school where you feel comfortable and supported. If you love what you’re doing, you’re more likely to succeed and have a happy and healthy four-plus years. Don’t limit your choices early just because another program may be more ‘conventional’.”

For Kelsey, this has proven to be great advice.