The difference a year makes

A year into her medical studies and Amanda Stojcevski, Medicine Class of 2021, still finds it hard to believe how much she has learned and all the firsts she has achieved.

“Last year, I learned a lot about what I’m capable of,” said Stojcevski. “There were a lot of firsts; the first time interviewing a patient, the first time crying after interviewing a patient, the first time doing a breast exam, the first time doing an infant exam, the first time using a real stethoscope, the first time hearing a heart murmur.”

For the second-year medical student, a year has made a big difference.

Stojcevski credits her high school biology teacher for initially sparking an interest in medicine. She was captivated by her teacher’s use of medical cases to explore the human body and fascinated with an opportunity to apply her knowledge to solve medical puzzles, while at the same time knowing she could make a difference in someone’s life.

After completing her undergraduate degree, the Sarnia native was excited about the opportunity to attend medical school and learn about health care in Southwestern Ontario. She packed her bags and headed to Windsor.

She is grateful for the supportive culture that met her and small class size at the Schulich Medicine – Windsor Campus, both of which she believes have factored into her happiness and success thus far.

“There are so many benefits to being in Windsor. I really appreciate the small class we have, and there is a lot of enthusiasm in the community from patients and doctors," she said. "I also can’t talk about the Windsor Campus without talking about our faculty and staff – they are incredible and support us so much, and even knew some of our names before we started class.”

Stojcevski admits to being drawn to the School because of its reputation for an abundance of extracurricular activities, and she wasn’t disappointed.

During the past year, she took part in Tachycardia, Teddy Bear Hospital and the Dinner Club. She also joined the Political Advocacy Committee, which hosted a municipal lobby day focused on the opioid crisis. The Committee wrote a position paper on how Windsor could increase the accessibility of naloxone kits by having them in public places, similar to an AED machine. They followed up on the paper by engaging city councillors to discuss this issue.

Stojcevski is proud of their efforts and believes they were able to raise more awareness on the topic and convince some city councillors to consider this issue in future decision-making.

Like all medical students, the transition and learning curve during first-year medical school was relatively steep for Stojcevksi. From adjusting to a new environment and learning how to deal with the massive amount of information shared during lectures to adapting to a new schedule and routine, Stojcevski will admit to a few challenges along the way.

“Medicine is full of challenges, and my first year was a good experience in that I developed a lot more resiliency and confidence in myself to overcome these challenges, learn from them, and then keep going forward,” she said.

With a desire to build on the already supportive culture at the School and ease the transition to medical school for the upcoming class, Stojcevski took on the role of Orientation Coordinator for the Windsor Campus. She participated in the organization of Medical Foundations Week for the Class of 2022, and worked with her peers and class leaders to create an inclusive, friendly and welcoming environment for the incoming class.

“It was so rewarding to see the incoming students having a great time while becoming comfortable in their new environment,” she said.

Stojcevski is settling into her second year, inspired by faculty who teach her and grateful for a community that has embraced her and her classmates. She’s excited to get to know the members of the Class of 2022 better, as they find their way through their first year of medical school.

“Things can be scary at first,” she said, reflecting back on her first few months of medical school. “But once you get in there and you try things, it isn’t so bad. As long as you have confidence in yourself and try your best while accepting that you will probably make a mistake or two…or five, you can do anything.”