Donate Now!

September 10, 2019

Northern Routes

O-Week: Welcome to our first-year medical students

Hello. Bonjour. Aaniin. Boozhoo.

At our campus across the North, it is arguably the most wonderful time of the year. I can feel the bustle of excitement that comes with the same certainty as the crisp autumn air. Welcome back to our returning learners, faculty and staff. I hope you enjoyed the beautiful summer and had time relaxing with family and friends.

On behalf of faculty and staff, I welcome NOSM’s first-year medical students. You’re embarking on an incredible chapter of your voyage with NOSM. This is an astonishing school and you are an integral part of the reason why. You have come to the best medical school in Canada. You are joining a group of returning students with unique gifts, talents and strengths. Joining NOSM is a great leap forward in your education so rest assured, it is normal to feel a bit out of your comfort zone. Week one is a tsunami of orientation (getting ID’s, email logins, etc.). I remember that all I really wanted to know was where I could get a bus pass. For me, the first actual day of class was a little overwhelming, as it may be with your NOSM immersion experiences.

The fact is, medical school will be tough, and at times daunting, but please know that many of us have been in your shoes. Soon you will be meeting many people, talking to strangers about intimate details of their lives and staying up all night wondering if that stomach ache you have is appendicitis or cancer. Yup, it’s all normal. You’ll learn how to treat everything from acne to Zenker’s diverticulum. There will be many lessons. There will be bodily fluids. You will learn how to handle angry, sad, happy, grieving and anxious people. You will learn about the social determinants of health, as well as Indigenous and Francophone peoples, communities and culture. But the most important thing I hope you will learn here at NOSM is how to be caring and compassionate, how to treat people⁠—your patients—as humans.

Rest assured, at NOSM you’ll be carefully supported. Don’t be intimidated, but do show up wearing your curiosity on your sleeve. It’s a process, sometimes harried, always challenging. And you’ll always find yourself on cusp of evolving concepts and approaches. That’s the art of medicine.

Here are five tips to help you:

1. Be on time. No matter what you are doing be on time. Doctors and patients hate being kept waiting.

2. Make sure you do the homework. Yes, it’s a lot of reading but if you don’t know something, own up to it, as it will show if you haven’t prepared for the class, seminar or patient encounter.

3. Be kind. You have no idea what your peers are going through. If someone looks overwhelmed, they probably are. Everyone will have moments like that.

4.  Practice restraint. Medical school, as they say, is a marathon not a sprint. Pace yourself and take time for your wellness.

5. Reach out. Because we are distributed as a School, NOSM is structured to be a supportive community. Talk to your faculty, teachers and to the NOSM staff. We all care about you. This is NOSM. You make this school what it is. So, let us know what you think as you embark on new systems and styles of learning. Is there room for more virtual medicine labs? On-demand, web accessible lectures? Medical apps?
I hope you have personal opportunities to interact and connect with me. You are the main reason for our existence and we want to know about your experience at NOSM. How can we best connect?  For starters, how about a Meet and Greet with some appetizers in a cozy northern pub? Keep your eyes open for your invitation!

I look forward to connecting and reconnecting with you along our mutual NOSM journey.



As usual, you are invited to follow my journey on Twitter @ddsv3 using #WhereisDrVerma. If you have feedback or ideas about how I can better communicate with you, please let me know by emailing me at or by taking a quick survey here at any time.



Also, please help us spread the word about this exciting opportunity: 
The Northern Ontario School of Medicine seeking an Associate Dean, Undergraduate Medical Education to oversee and provide strategic direction for the (UME) program. To learn more information about this exciting role click on this link: Associate Dean – Undergraduate Medical Education


The Word