MedTalks the talk

A lecture series shedding light on life as a medical doctor

Ian T.D. Thomson (left) and Dr. Michael Ellis (right). Photo credit: Jeremiah Yarmie

Do you want to be a physician? Chances are the thought has crossed your mind at one point in your life.

The University of Manitoba Science Students’ Association (SSA) is endeavouring to shed light on what life as a medical doctor is like through the MedTalks: Student Edition lecture series.

The series is developed by the SSA in collaboration with the college of medicine’s continuing professional development division.

According to U of M science student Ian T.D. Thomson, the co-ordinator of the lecture series, the inaugural MedTalks: Student Edition lecture took place on Oct. 9. Dr. John Embil did a talk on infectious diseases found in Manitoba and Ontario, which “wasn’t for the faint of heart,” said Thomson.

Embil is a physician, U of M professor, and the director of the Health Sciences Centre’s infection prevention and control unit. Embil’s passion for infection control education has seen him collaborate with the likes of Kermit the Frog, and don an alter-ego named Soapy, who spreads the good word about hand-washing.

On Thursday, Nov. 20, Dr. Michael Ellis—U of M alumnus, neurosurgeon-scientist, and medical director of the Pan Am Concussion Program—joined U of M students to discuss the path that led to him become a medical doctor.

The SSA partnered with the U of M’s Undergraduate Psychology Students’ Association (UPSA) for Ellis’ talk.

Ellis received his bachelor of science degrees in psychology and medicine, as well as his MD, from the U of M. In his medical training, Ellis was able to travel to prestigious institutes and work with influential researchers and clinicians in the field of neurosurgery.

Eventually, Ellis joined the Pan Am Concussion Program as its medical director. The program, to which every child with a concussion in Manitoba is referred, provides individual care for patients. The program also carries out interdisciplinary concussion research.

Ellis concluded his talk by sharing some key advice with the audience.

“Find your mission,” Ellis urged, highlighting the importance of reading, volunteering, utilizing social media sites such as Twitter, and talking to others.

Ellis also encouraged the audience to find mentors, and listed the individuals who helped him along his way. Finally, Ellis told the audience to “have a lot of faith.”

“There are many students within the U of M faculty of science who are interested in the discipline of medicine; however, they may not be aware of all the interesting specialties of the field. Suffice to say, it’s a very broad subject. With MedTalks: Student Edition, we hope to share with students what different physicians across Winnipeg observe and deal with on a regular basis,” said Thomson.

Medical outreach events like the MedTalks lecture series can help open the doors to medicine-curious students from a variety of backgrounds.

“In Manitoba there is still a very urgent need for us to have great people in the field of medicine,” said Ellis.

Thomson hopes MedTalks: Student Edition will grow into a popular lecture series for students within the faculty of science, and at the U of M as a whole, leading into next year.

“I haven’t confirmed a speaker at this time; however, I would like to continue with the idea of partnering with student groups to further the MedTalks: Student Edition name, like we did with UPSA,” said Thomson.

Keep your eyes out for the next MedTalks: Student Edition lecture. It may inspire you to begin the first chapter of your own medical career.