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July's Feature: Courtney Francis aka @thegirlyMD

Updated: Jul 6, 2019

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself 

A: My name is Courtney and I am a soon-to-be third year medical student at the University of Toronto, Canada. I run a variety of social media platforms, called The Girly MD (to be), to document my journey throughout medical school and also provide premedical students with advice and guidance. My goal of these platforms is to inspire young women to pursue their goals, no matter how ambitious, as well as promote the importance of staying true to who you are. As you can infer from the name of my blog, I can definitely be described as a “pink-loving girly girly” and there is nothing wrong with that. There is nothing wrong with being feminine in a male dominated career. It does not mean that you are less hardworking, motivated, or intelligent than anyone else. That is something that I want to promote to my audience, especially to young girls who might think otherwise.

"There is nothing wrong with being feminine in a male dominated career. It does not mean that you are less hardworking, motivated, or intelligent than anyone else."

Q: What is the earliest recollection you have of wanting to pursue medicine and when was this decision solidified?

A: The first time that I wanted to pursue medicine was when I was in the seventh grade. Our class was taking surveys that matched students' interests, strengths, and personalities to various careers. Our teachers wanted to get us thinking about the future and different fields that we might be interested in, and my career results were all medicine-related. That was the first time I thought about pursuing medicine. At that point, all I wanted to do was learn more about the career path and role of a physician. I googled all the different requirements and each step that I needed to take to get into medical school. Years later, in university, I was still following the steps I needed to take to get into medical school. I also began shadowing physicians. Throughout my shadowing experiences, I grew to love medicine and the role of the physician more and more. I loved the interactions with patients, the relationships physicians have with their patients, the critical thinking, and so on. That is when the decision was solidified; however, medicine was a career I wanted to pursue for a long time.

Q: Have your beliefs and aspirations changed since then?

A: Not at all! I think it is important to constantly look back at what made you interested in pursuing a certain field as you progress through your training. Not only do I think that it grounds you and helps with motivation, especially at times of high stress, but I also think it is a great way to reflect on your journey, remember your goals, and be proud of your accomplishments. I also think my decision to pursue a career in medicine has solidified further since beginning my journey. Each time I have the opportunity to interact with a patient, and feel as though I am a part of the care team, I feel incredibly grateful and privileged to be where I am. I love talking to patients and trying to help them with their problems. It is a really great feeling being part of something like that. 

"I think mentorship is so important, no matter what career you are in."

Q: What is the role that mentorship has played in your own journey and why do you think that mentorship is important specifically in medicine?

A: I think mentorship is so important, no matter what career you are in. I personally did not have a mentor when I was a premed student because no one around me was in the medical field. That is why I did a lot of research on the requirements and what I needed to do to get where I wanted to be. Since I didn’t have a mentor when I was a premed student, I wanted to be that source of information and guidance for premeds who are currently in a similar situation that I was once in. That’s another one of the reasons I started my blog - to help those who don’t have family or friends in the medical field to act as a mentor, just like me when I was a premed. However, as a medical student, there have been many influential individuals in my life. I have been so blessed with receiving valuable advice and mentorship from a variety of physicians. These are the people who I can share my goals and aspirations with, and they are always there to guide me. I think having validation and guidance, especially from those who are in the field, is incredibly helpful and reassuring. Medicine is a very competitive field, so having people around to validate your ideas is very important, in my opinion.

Q: How do you believe we can inspire more young girls to pursue STEM and specifically, what advice do you have for those looking to pursue medicine?

A: I think sharing the stories of others is a great way to inspire young girls who want to pursue STEM careers. Exposing them to others who have pursued these careers will show them that it IS possible and achievable! That is why I started my blog - to share my story and journey. I think it is also important to emphasize the fact that being a girl or being feminine does not undermine one’s intelligence, work ethic, motivation, or skill set. My biggest piece of advice is to set goals for yourself and really research what steps you need to take to get there. Once you know the requirements of the field you are interested in, go for it and hold yourself accountable to checking off those requirements. That’s what I did, and I really found that it worked for me.

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