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Regina-based medical student Balsam Arwini is set to graduate at USask’s virtual Spring Convocation celebration. (Photo: Submitted)

Graduating medical student ready to start residency

Fourth-year Regina-based medical student Balsam Arwini has always been interested in learning about science and advocating on the behalf of others.

As she prepared for Spring Convocation with the University of Saskatchewan (USask) Class of 2021, Arwini reflected on what brought her to the path of medicine.

“Coming to medicine has been a combination of my interest in science but also seeing how people have been affected by different factors in their lives and improving their quality of life,” she said.

Arwini discovered her love of science and biology in high school and went on to earn a biochemistry degree at the University of Regina. While completing her education, Arwini volunteered in different communities throughout Regina, and worked with families of victims who have experienced intimate partner violence.

Through working with vulnerable populations, she learned about people’s stories and the factors that impacted their day-to-day lives.

“I wanted (a career) that could put those two together,” Arwini said. “At the time, medicine was the way I wanted to go.”

Initially from Swift Current, Arwini decided to pursue medicine at the USask College of Medicine Regina campus, located at the Regina General Hospital. Studying in the Queen City allowed closer proximity to her family and offered additional opportunities. Each year approximately 40 out of a class of 100 medical students study at the Regina campus.

“I really liked the idea of connecting with a smaller group of people, and the available opportunities for hands on-training and getting to know your preceptors and other health professionals,” she said.

During her first year of medical school, Arwini volunteered with the Student Medical Society of Saskatchewan (SMSS) as one of the class-year representatives.

“You get to know your classmates, you get to advocate for them and get to know the faculty and how the College of Medicine works,” she said.

In Year 2, she took on the role of SMSS Vice-President Academic, which focuses on student interests from an academic point of view, including navigating challenges like changing requirements for students in the medical education program, learning concerns, personal circumstances, and ensuring student voices are heard.

“You get to know where everybody comes from, the different issues that happen in their lives, my classmates would come to me,” Arwini added. “It’s a really nice experience to gain their trust and help them as much as I could with my knowledge of how the system and education works.”

When entering the college, first-year medical students are paired with students in years above them in a peer-to-peer mentorship program.

After her participation in the program as a mentee, Arwini took on the role of mentor throughout her second and third-year.

“Your idea of medical school before coming in, and actually being in medical school, is completely different,” Arwini said. “It’s really nice to be able to go through those experiences in Year 2 and 3 as you start being with a mentor, get to know your mentees and their interests.”

As a fourth-year student, she also had the opportunity to mentor learners as they entered their clerkship in Year 3.

“I try to listen and really try to hear where they’re coming from and try to offer advice that makes sense,” Arwini said. “I really enjoyed being a mentor and giving back in that sense.”

Arwini looks forward to her upcoming residency with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in Regina and has advice for the incoming cohort of medical students.

“Don’t be afraid to try new opportunities or new initiatives,” she said. “You may think you might not be suited for the role, but it will be helpful for you in finding out what physician you want to be and what you want to do, in addition to providing care for patients.” 

Article re-posted on May 14, 2021 10:29:45 AM.
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