Carmen Petrick ‘12

Medical Resident, Obstetrics, Calgary General Hospital

Carmen’s Question: What biological and social factors foster the spread of infectious disease?

Keystone Title: The 1918 Spanish Influenza Pandemic: Why was it so deadly and what can we learn from it?

Abstract: The paper concerns itself with exploring what biological and societal factors affect the spread of infectious diseases. Starting by analyzing records of experiencing the influenza outbreak in 1918, the keystone first explores the many biological factors and effects the disease had on society. From here a societal analysis is carried out, looking at the many factors that may have caused the disease to spread. Spanning from societal and cultural practices to the geopolitical climate of 1918.

 

Tell me about life in medical school.
I’m finishing an 8-month clinical clerkship in Kenora, Ontario. It’s a town of about 15,000, so we get a lot of hands-on experience throughout the hospital and community, which is quite unique for third year med students.

I love the variety of work and the feeling of community you get in rural family medicine. We are primarily based in family physician practices in the community, but I’ve had a lot of experience in the hospital. I’ve assisted with surgeries in the operating room, delivered babies, worked in the methadone clinic and participated in ride-outs with Ornge Air Paramedics, an emergency helicopter and fixed-wing medical transport service. I’m going into an Emergency Room shift tonight.

Northern Ontario School of Medicine’s program focuses on social determinants of health in northern and rural areas, with special emphasis on Indigenous populations. Growing up in rural BC, I understand the unique healthcare barriers rural populations face, and I want to work to help address them. A host of factors influence the health and wellbeing of every patient. This focus on social health mirrors my Question while at Quest closely!

I’m headed back to Thunder Bay to start fourth year very soon. I’ll work at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre for six months, then travel around Canada for my electives for the next five months. I have a perinatal addictions elective at UBC this spring that I’m very excited for.

How did Quest help you prepare for your life and career?
We have small classes at NOSM—there are 28 students on the Thunder Bay campus—so a huge component of my degree is small-group learning with break-out sessions to discuss topics and investigate themes in healthcare. And we have great accessibility to our professors. It’s very Quest-like!

The written and oral communication skills I learned at Quest have served me immensely with physicians and preceptors. I can see the difference in how equipped I am compared with students coming from larger schools with classes in lecture halls. While I undeniably did not have the science background some of my classmates did when starting medical school, I have been able to catch up quickly because Quest prepared us with the skills and resources to teach ourselves when needed.

If you had one piece of advice for a current Quest student, what would it be?
I know some students might have concerns about getting a non-traditional degree. I’d tell them not to worry and to go for it with confidence! Our Quest education prepares us so well for both the real world and academia. It gives us the soft skills that other universities may not.

Do you have a favourite quote?
It’s not exactly a quote, but the TED Talk “A Doctor’s Touch” by Abraham Verghese had a profound impact on the way I see myself practicing medicine.

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