Written by AMO Ambassador and Canadian medical student, Matthew Nasato.

When I first heard I was going to start my medical education online, I wasn’t sure how to feel. So many thoughts ran through my head. “Am I going to miss out on crucial hands-on experiences? Will I be able to focus on my studies? Should I wait until the school reopens in-person classes to begin my academics?” I think perhaps the last thought reconciles with others the most. I’ve heard that many of my colleagues are delaying their education due to the pandemic.

Find Flexibility

Still, I chose to begin medical school online in August 2020. It is now May 2021, almost one year later, and there are talks of classes remaining online for the rest of the year. I cannot predict how long these classes will remain online, all I know is that if I wish to become a physician, I must press on despite what is traditionally considered an unorthodox education. After all, why should I delay a goal that I know, on a cellular level, I want to reach more than any other?

COVID-19 has created a unique situation across all facets of life, medicine included. COVID-19 cannot and will not halt progression! If becoming a physician is truly the path you want to take, you must act in alignment with those wants. When you do so, you will be successful. Regardless of the state that the world is in, you should try to accomplish your goals and let nothing stand in your way, especially if those goals involve helping others.

Go the Extra Mile

I used the pandemic to my advantage. During my breaks, I participated in virtual rotations to maximize the experience I could get remotely. I have completed an online surgical rotation and I plan to do others soon. I have established a quiet, well-organized study area in my home which enables me to be efficient as I am studying and at moments when I need to take a break. In addition to pursuing virtual rotations, I have joined various online workshops ranging from suturing clinics to emergency medicine seminars. I even joined a regional chapter under the American College of Surgeons.

Cultivate Connections

A large question with virtual and online learning is how to go about building relationships with others. Since everyone is online, it has become incredibly easy to connect with classmates through social media or the school’s portal. I have met so many amazing people and great future physicians in these ways. I’ve also formed study groups.

Going forth with my medical education despite its entirely online environment was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I know that when all is said and done when I’ve earned my degree and am providing care to patients, it will be well worth it.


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