Back to School 2019: Meet our students!

September 6, 2019

Meet some of our students at the Northern Medical Program who have started their 2019-20 school year studies!


Julia MacDonald     

Hometown: Stratford, ON
Year One (Class of 2023)

What inspired you to pursue medicine?
Among the many reasons I was inspired to pursue medicine, what stands out the most for me is the opportunity to go beyond the 'biomedical’; treating the mental, emotional, spiritual, and cultural dimensions of health and wellbeing as equally important, as well as developing rewarding relationships with patients and communities.

What are you looking forward to most this upcoming year?
I'm really looking forward to challenging my assumptions and biases within the medical context, and learning from my peers. I'm, of course, also looking forward to taking advantage of all beautiful northern BC has to offer! 

Best piece of advice
Be vulnerable, humble, and open to new experiences and challenges. You never know where they'll take you!

What’s next on your BC bucket list?
The Bowron Lakes chain has been on my bucket list for a while, and I'm hoping to get out and paddle the whole chain soon!


Jennifer Borchert

Hometown: Vernon, BC
Year Two (Class of 2022)

What inspired you to pursue medicine?
I have been fortunate to see family and friends working in health care who love their jobs. While many experiences have led me to pursue medicine, volunteer work with hospice societies helped me to confirm that working in a caring profession would be a good fit for me as well.

What are you looking forward to most this upcoming year?
I am looking forward to spending the entire year in Prince George! The Northern Medical Program community is fantastic, and I love the adventure that living in this city provides. Now that my classmates and I have settled into the program, I feel that the year will be well-balanced and fruitful on and off campus.

What advice would you give to first-year medical students?
Find the balance that works for you and stick to it. Regardless of what others are doing, you know your own capacity and best methods for learning. In a challenging program such as this, it is worthwhile to take a breath and pay attention to your own needs sometimes (or all the time).

What’s next on your BC bucket list?
That is a difficult question… there is so much I would like to do and see! High on the list is a trip to Terrace, for some hiking, biking, and/or skiing. It is not far from Prince George, after all!


Seamus Hogan

Hometown: Prince George, BC
Year Three (Class of 2021)

What inspired you to pursue medicine?
The quest for knowledge. 
Growing up, I have always been interested in knowing how things worked. I loved putting things together and learning what drives things and makes them function. I then learned more about people in my high school psychology class. I was involved with my courses in math and the sciences of chemistry, biology, physics, and I found the subject material great. Even more fascinating was the ideas around how people discovered these subjects, studied them, and used these subjects to function better. I found that even after learning all I could, I still wanted more knowledge. I found this knowledge not in the subject material, but in the people surrounding the sciences.
When I started University, I said to my girlfriend, now wife, that my quest will take a new direction, I will learn all I can about people. I am now half way through medical school and realizing how much there is to know about people. I have never been more happy with my quest for knowing more, determining how things work and what drives people to function in a day to day setting.

What have you been enjoying most so far about your third year?
The privilege to ask detailed questions around someone's life and fit it into their life's journey. Many questions we ask are private and confidential, but help us to determine how to best help people function. Sometimes, sharing a bit of their life's journey to a third year medical student is not only helpful for determining the care plan, but also therapeutic to be able to talk openly about their life.

What advice would you give to first-year medical students?
Have fun, study hard, and learn all you can when you can.
Above all, be willing to listen to a patient to help them through whatever struggles they may face.

What’s next on your BC bucket list?
I am off to Prince Rupert in October. I have only ever been there twice when I was very little and now I get to experience the coast again. I can not wait to get a taste of a more rural community and learn what I can on my quest for knowledge.


Danielle Olmstead

Hometown: Smithers, BC
Year Four (Class of 2020)

What inspired you to pursue medicine?
It was a long process, I wasn’t that kid who knew at a young age they wanted to be a doctor. I fully intended to be a ballerina for far longer than you might guess.
What drew me in was anatomy and physiology and trying to understand this beautifully complex machine. What kept me in was the incredible relationship we can build with patients and families and the realization that the science of medicine is perfectly imperfect. Humans are messy, there are always exceptions to the rules and we have so much still to learn. It’s exciting!

What have you been enjoying most so far about your fourth year, and what are you looking forward to this year?
I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to spend more time in areas that I’m interested in and guide my own learning. On top of that I get to see new places and learn new ways of doing things. Every once in a while I run into a fellow 4th year and that is so much fun! Next year I’m really looking forward to being in one place for a while and knowing the results of CaRMS!

What advice would you give to first-year medical students?
Breathe. The system works, you will get through all the hurdles thrown at you. What’s important is that you get through it happy and healthy. Set aside some time to go for that run, play that gig or see that friend. Studying will always be there. The admissions committee picked YOU for this program, so keep being YOU while you go through it

What’s next on your BC bucket list?
There are so many. It’s been years since I’ve visited Haida Gwaii and I’ve been itching to go back. Some friends and I have also talked about doing the Bowron Lakes circuit some time - three people stuck in one canoe, what could possibly go wrong?


Learn more about medical studies programs in UBC's Faculty of Medicine, which includes the Northern Medical Program on the UNBC campus.