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A Saint James Student Experience with Philip Mead

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So Philip, why did you choose to become a doctor?

So I was actually completing my masters at the time I became interested in medicine. Originally I was looking into becoming a veterinarian, but my supervisor said that based on my skills and how I am with people, I would be better suited for medicine. After diving into it a little deeper, I couldn’t agree with him more.

And why did you choose Saint James out of all schools?

So I was looking at a multitude of different schools, but Saint James got back to me right away, and it seemed like a good fit. You know, what better spot to look into studying medicine than a great island like Anguilla? So, I wanted to take that opportunity because I might never get it again. It just seemed like a good fit for me

What was your life like before you enrolled at Saint James?

I was in research beforehand, so it was what I was kind of what I was geared towards. I also worked for TD Canada Trust in Canada so I was kind of in the financial background. But I found that science is definitely my calling, so that’s what I pursued.

I saw your degree is in animal science with a masters in animal science and toxicology, so you started studying animals and then switched to humans?

Yea, so I actually did a volunteer vet trip where I went to Nicaragua and Honduras. They had a rampant stray animal issue, so we were going around helping different communities with spaying and neutering. I went to help with that issue, but at that same time, we were helping the community. I just felt that connection and desire to help others.

So while you were in Anguilla, did you participate in any clubs or activities?

I became part of AMSA, the Red Cross and I was on the White Coat committee for graduation as well. I also did tutoring for different subjects while I was there.

Do you have any memories about the clubs you were in?

Being on the White Coat committee was definitely a memorable experience. Just listening to other’s input and trying to get everyone to a point of agreement – it just shows how we have to be able to work well with others and keep our own opinions from dominating. It was also great working with the local community. We looked at different fundraisers, not just for our White Coat committee, but for the school and the community itself. Being part of these different clubs really lets you jump right in to being part of Anguilla.

Did you have a favorite professor in the basic sciences?

Probably Dr. Iliou. He taught my pharmacology class with Dr. Malecki. I thought both were excellent teachers. Dr. Iliou could come into probably any class and teach it without reading any books beforehand – he  just has that ability and that knowledge. I’ve actually kept in touch with him letting him know how my studies have been progressing.

I’m sure he’ll like to hear that. Did you have a favorite course or subject?

I really enjoyed pathology. I just found it very interesting. All the other classes are leading up to understanding how the body works. It’s nice when it works properly. But pathology is the study of disease. You get how it can go wrong when those things don’t work correctly. And that being a 2 part course – Pathology 1 and 2 – it really gives you a lot of time with that material.

What was the most difficult course?

You really have to do every course to get the big picture, but I would say that semester one you have to get your footing. It’s a transition – you’re meeting new people, getting used to a completely different environment. So I just think, in general, the first semester is tough. I was part of the buddy program for new students. I didn’t really have that opportunity when I first came. One of our students, Alex Marinkovic, she started it with another student I believe, just to get connected. I still keep in contact with some of them. Last week, I saw one of the buddies who was coming in MD1 when I was leaving, and he’s doing his clinical now, so it was good to catch up and see a familiar face.

So you’re currently in clinical rotations – what rotation are you taking now?

I finished all my core rotations. I’m on emergency medicine right now, so I’m at Jackson Park, and after that I am headed to Mercy Hospital for neurology.

Have you had any memorable experiences so far during your clinical?

Yea it’s all been pretty memorable. The different attending physicians that you meet – I’m still in contact with a few of them, especially at Mercy. I’m attempting to right a paper with one of their physicians there, so feeling and being part of a team is a great experience. And it does give you the opportunity to meet people who will hopefully be in your life for a while.

Have you had any point so far where you felt like you were making a difference in a patient’s life or an ‘I feel like I’m a doctor’ moment?

Oh for sure, I had a couple of those – I’ve had times when I go introduce myself to a patient and make sure that they know I’m a medical student, but I still get called Dr. Mead or something like that. That makes you feel pretty good, even though you’re not quite there yet. I’ve actually seen multiple patients outside of the hospital, and still being able to interact with them afterwards and have them recognize me is a pretty good feeling.

What speciality do you think you’ll choose?

My thinking right now is emergency medicine. I’m definitely interested in internal medicine as well, and if I go into a speciality afterwards then that would be awesome too.

I heard you did very well on your Step 1.

Yeah I was happy with it. There’s always room for growth, and you can always do better, but yea, I was content for sure.

What do you find most difficult about medical school?

Unfortunately, not everyone is going to make it. You want everyone to make it, you want everyone to do well, but unfortunately, that’s the nature of the beast. It doesn’t always work out that way. That’s probably the crummy part of medicine.

Would you recommend Saint James School of Medicine to future medical students?

I already have. I think Saint James gives people the opportunity to go out and get something that they might not have had a chance to before. After I finished my masters, I would have had to wait another year to a year and half to figure out if I was accepted to a traditional Canadian medical school. To me, that was kind of a waste of time. That’s why I started looking into Caribbean medical schools. I didn’t want to be stagnant. I didn’t want to be standing still. I wanted to get moving and start this career. I think Saint James School of Medicine gives people opportunities to make the most of themselves.

What advice would you give to incoming or current Saint James’ students?

That ultimately, it’s up to you. You might complain that one teacher isn’t teaching what you need to know, or they have an accent you can’t understand, or this or that, but it’s on you. If you don’t understand something, go and read about it. Don’t just sit back and expect somebody else to do it for you. You get what you put into it. So, work hard, buckle down while you’re on the island, write Step 1, do the best you can and just leave a lasting impression on the physicians you’re going to work with during your core rotations and electives.

What was something that you liked about Anguilla?

The sun. I’m from Canada so it’s pretty nice. I’ve had two winters down there. A lot of other students would get on an airplane and go back home once they finished a semester. I just had people come visit me instead. Like, why would you want to leave this beautiful island when you can actually enjoy it? I talked with a bunch of my friends who went to Anguilla as well, and we’re all like, “I’m definitely going back at some point once I have money, if I can find time.” It was a beautiful island, the people were amazing, my landlord was awesome. Everyone was very good…and the food. I enjoyed the food. I know some people weren’t happy because there wasn’t McDonalds, or there wasn’t this or that, but I was happy to get away from that food.

So how do you feel about your future and your future prospects and opportunities as a Saint James student?

Well, I guess we’ll find that out in 2018 when I have my match or not, but I’m hoping everything will work out well. You know, other students are doing it, so there shouldn’t be any reason I can’t do it. You see in the Saint James newsletter where other people matched and what they’re doing, so it keeps you hopeful. You just have to work on getting those good marks, and rubbing elbows with the right people and hope it will work out for you.  
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