Calculated career choice
By Jennifer Parraga, BA'93
“It’s hard to believe it has been year since White Coat, it has been a whirlwind,” said Michael-Anthony Ferrato, Medicine Class of 2019. Ferrato recalls the traditional event marking the beginning of his medical school journey at Schulich Medicine with great fondness. “Apart from actually getting my whitecoat, which meant a great deal, I still remember how I felt listening to Dr. Strong’s speech,” he said. “He had so much energy and spoke so passionately, without knowing too much else about what the days ahead would be like, I knew it would be great.”
Now in his second year, Ferrato feels very much a part of the Schulich Medicine family. “Last year, we arrived as a group of strangers,” he said. “And now after the summer apart, we were excited to see each other and hear about all the amazing things people had been up to.”
Ferrato credits the supportive and collaborative environment at the School for helping to create that family feeling. He believes it also enriches the learning experience. “I’ve learned this past year that my classmates are some of my best learning resources,” he said. “We study together and bounce ideas off of one another. It’s exciting to be surrounded by so many motivated individuals, from different backgrounds, who can provide perspectives that are different from your own.”
As a Windsor native who completed his undergraduate and master’s degrees at the University of Windsor, the Schulich Medicine – Windsor Campus student hasn’t had to venture too far from home to undertake his studies.
Regardless of the distance, it wasn’t a journey that he had always imagined taking however. “I remember sitting in my first-year chemistry class, there were about 300 students in the lecture theatre, and the professor asked that everyone who wanted to go into medicine to raise their hands. I was one of about five people who didn’t.”
Academically motivated and sports focused, Ferrato may not have been sure of his career path, but he enjoyed his undergraduate and graduate experiences, excelling academically and managing to co-found the University of Windsor intercollegiate baseball team.
“Being part of that team was a big part of my undergrad and master’s career,” he said. “My coach Frank Jeney was a tremendous influence on me and consistently challenged me to grow as a leader and an individual. We worked through a lot of adversity to build the program from scratch and I am very proud that we managed to win a national championship in my final year.”
Ferrato also found success in the classroom and lab, leading to a semester at Harvard University. “Thanks to the Alexander Graham Bell Graduate Scholarship and another study supplement, I was able to spend a four months as a visiting scholar at Harvard,” Ferrato said.
While at Harvard, Ferrato worked on a project in the field of molecular electronics. It dealt with using a liquid metal alloy called eutectic gallium indium (EGaIn) to measure currents across single layers of molecules. Using EGaIn as a top contact for molecular junctions (or circuits) was a technique that was developed by Dr. George Whitesides' lab at Harvard where Ferrato completed his semester. While there, Ferrato was also worked on his own research focused on the molecular electronic properties of various functional groups.
It was during his master’s that Ferrato began to consider medicine as a career through a different set of lenses. “I started asking myself questions about what I wanted out of a career rather than what I wanted to do as a job,” he said. “When I finally looked into medicine I realized that being a doctor means more than just being a medical expert – it requires you to be a life-long scholar and advocate, and allows you to be engaged in your local community, as well as a global research/scientific community.” Feeling ready to go in that direction, Ferrato took the necessary steps to secure his place in medical school.
Once accepted at Schulich Medicine, there was no looking back. “I did my homework on all the Ontario medical school programs and they all sounded phenomenal,” he said. “But I heard first-hand from a few current students and alumni about the great experiences they had at Schulich Medicine; they raved about the place.”
In addition to immersing himself in his studies and working through all the typical anxieties that come with first year, Ferrato got involved in intramural sports and health care advocacy, serving as the School representative on the Ontario Political Advocacy Committee which is part of the Ontario Medical Student Association.
He also found a way to combine his passion for sports with his medical studies, when he spent time in Fort Myers during MLB spring training shadowing the team physicians for the Boston Red Sox. “It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see what it’s like to work in sports medicine at the professional level,” he said.
After a summer of playing baseball in Ireland and throughout Europe as a member of the Irish National Team, Ferrato is looking forward to what his second year will bring and is open to all the opportunities at the School that will allow him to grow and excel.