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Our Learners

Students and residents of Dalhousie Medical School

Q&A with Matthew To, third-year medical student

It’s a big jump from second to third year of medical school. Classroom-to-clinic time is flipped, giving students hands-on opportunities to apply the lessons and skills learned in pre-clerkship years in clinical settings across the Maritimes. Matthew To, a third-year medical student in Halifax, got a boost of confidence before heading into clerkship—he found out he was a recipient of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame for Medical Students award.

Matthew took some time to talk with us about the award and the transition to third year.

This is a big award. How does it feel to be nominated and named as a winner?
I still can’t believe it. I’m thrilled to be receiving the award and I want to express my gratitude to the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame and MD Financial Management. This gift motivates me to continue to do my best in my studies and will help me fulfill my dream of becoming a physician. I’m thankful for my family, mentors, and friends in the class of 2017 and 2018 who have supported and encouraged me.

You’re now in your third year of medical school. What about your clerkship years excites you?
I’m most looking forward to seeing patients at the hospital and working with health care teams. I’m also excited to discover new interests and areas of clinical practice and research that I would like to focus on as a physician.

How has the experience been so far?
It’s been a steep learning curve, but I’ve enjoyed interacting with patients and staff. My first rotation was general surgery--it was neat to be able to assist in the operating room and learn how to suture for the first time. And most recently, I got to experience the fast pace of the emergency department. I liked seeing patients with a wide variety of health concerns from strokes and seizures, to back pain and rashes.

I haven’t decided what I’d like to pursue for residency yet, but I’m interested in primary care, public health and the health of marginalized populations.

Describe your Research in Medicine (RIM) project?
At the foot clinic where I volunteer, I learned that many people needed clean socks, shoes and basic foot care. I was curious to learn more about the foot health needs of homeless populations, so I approached Dr. Colin Van Zoost about conducting a systematic review on foot conditions among homeless individuals for my RIM project. With the help of my friend and classmate, Tommy Brothers, we found and summarized relevant studies. We’ve submitted an article for publication and we hope the findings from this review will be helpful to service providers and public health workers.

What else, besides your studies, have you become involved in at the medical school?
One of the groups I’ve been helping with is the Health and Social Justice Interest Group at Dalhousie. As a group, we’re interested in addressing health inequities through volunteering, medical education and advocacy work. I’m also part of the Health Professions Chorale, Advocates in Global Health program, Social Accountability Committee and the Dalhousie Chapter of Canadian Doctors for Medicare.