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Where mentoring and medicine meet

“UCC’s Medical Society is for anyone with an interest in medicine or any health care-related field, even if you’re not sure if that’s what you want to pursue as a career,” says Malek Elhaddad, one of the club’s three student leads.
Malek, a Year 11 student, works with co-leads Finn Bartel and Max Peng, also in Year 11, and a club executive team to organize the club’s weekly meetings, regularly attended by anywhere from 20 to 40 students in Years 8 to 12.

“The Year 11 students stepped into leadership roles this year after the club organizers graduated,” says Lindsay Rielly, the biology teacher who supervises the club. “They are passionate about the medical field and they explore and learn about medical career pathways together.

“The team organizes all the meetings, giving presentations, inviting guest speakers and letting the members know about various competitions and summer research opportunities. They’ve also done fundraising, most recently to support a vaccine initiative in the developing world.”

Malek says that most members of the executive team are Year 10 students.

“When we were younger, we didn’t have the opportunity to lead meetings, so we want to give younger students that opportunity. That way, the club will be sustainable when we graduate.”

Recently, the club hosted a medical physicist who works as a radiologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, conducts research and has an academic appointment at the University of Toronto.

“We try to be diverse in our meetings and not lose sight of the variety that’s out there,” Malek says. “This speaker opened our eyes to a completely new possibility.”

The club was much smaller when Finn joined as a Year 8 student and volunteered to take on a leadership role. He learned from older club mentors and is eager to pass on what he has learned.

Says Finn. “There are steps you can take starting in Year 8 to get into programs that interest you, and we try to show students which pathways make that happen. You might otherwise not know what recommended courses are until much later in your high school career.”

Malek joined the club last year and eagerly attended every meeting.

“There’s so much I didn’t know about the potential different pathways in health care,” he says. “This group gave me the tools to help decide.”

They emphasize that the meetings aren’t as serious as they may sound to an outsider.

“We try to get the information across while still making it fun,” Finn says. “Sometimes we have quizzes, puzzles or trivia, and we held a suturing workshop.”

Adds Malek, “We try to give presentations that are engaging and relaxed.”
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