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The inspiration of women

By Jennifer Parraga, BA'93

When Katy Bartlett was 13 years old, she met Marta, a child from Minsk, Belarus. At the time, Bartlett’s family became involved with a program called Children of Chernobyl and Marta came to spend the summer with Bartlett’s family in Chatham, Ontario. Marta, along with Bartlett’s mother, grandmother and closest friends, is one of the women who have provided inspiration to Bartlett as she pursued her goals.  

It was during the summer when Bartlett came to know Marta that she first began to consider medicine as a career possibility.

“I was inspired by the impact of health and global issues,” she said. “I had always thought about doing something to help people, but getting to know Marta really influenced the direction that I took.”

While completing her undergraduate studies in biomedical science, Bartlett interviewed at Schulich Medicine. She had wanted to stay in Ontario, and she was really happy to get the interview, because of the School’s reputation as a close-knit community and great student experience.

She lucked out. Schulich Medicine was her only interview, and not only did she receive admission, she was offered an opportunity to be part of the Schulich Medicine – Windsor Campus.

“Looking back on my experience, I couldn’t have been happier,” she said. “It was closer to my family in Chatham, and I had heard about the great opportunities available to students during the clinical years in Windsor, so I was really pleased.”

Bartlett says that everything she heard about Schulich Medicine and the Windsor Campus before becoming a student has rung true.

And while finding balance can be difficult with such a demanding academic load, Bartlett has managed to play sports – something she’s always done, and she engaged with the community through initiatives such as MedPals, a student mentoring project and OpenMeds, an LGBTQ Outreach Program.

The young medical student also found some time for personal growth and overcame what she describes as crippling performance anxiety.

Bartlett decided to take her musical interest and talent and try to improve what she saw to be an obstacle by joining a band with some of her classmates.

“I’ve had so much fun and I’ve fallen in love with performing,” she said. “We just do covers of all different music, and I sing and play the ukulele. This is a big personal accomplishment for me, and I never would have expected to have achieved this in medical school, it’s something I am really proud of myself for,” she added.

The training on stage came in handy when Bartlett presented a research project at the American Association of Paediatrics conference in Florida.

The project Bartlett presented was focused on a smart phone app that served as a reference tool for clinical clerks and provided information on things like acceptable drug dosages and vital signs. Bartlett worked with Dr. Hema Gangam to determine how receptive clerks in satellite campuses were to the use of the app, and how valuable they determined it to be.

Bartlett has spent the past several months crisscrossing the country doing electives. As she heads into the home stretch of her undergraduate medical education with the CaRMS match before her, she finds herself even more inspired by the many female physicians with whom she has been interacting.

“I see so many young women who are residents and young faculty members, it’s exciting to see them just getting into their medical careers. I’ve also interacted with senior female physicians who have overcome sexism in surgery and medicine, and they are able to advise me and talk about what their journey has been like, and what they expect to see in the coming years. Meeting these awesome women in medicine really inspires me the most at this stage,” she said.