I recently interviewed a super intelligent and talented fifth-year Medical Physics student, who just so happens to be my friend. Nicky shares her insights on what the Medical Physics program and overall life as a Ryerson student are like in the following interview:
How would you describe your program?
“In the Medical Physics program, we study how physics is applied in medicine and how it can benefit the medical world in terms of diagnosis, imaging and treatment.”
Why did you choose your program?
“I have always been interested in science, specifically physics. I wanted to study the fundamentals of why everything is the way it is in the universe, and I believe physics covers this the most widely. I also have always been passionate about medicine, helping other people and using my knowledge to benefit people in the health industry, and so this program seemed like the perfect fit for me.
Ryerson is one of the few schools in Ontario that offers a Medical Physics program, and the co-op program option was very eye-catching for me. Ryerson is also located in a key spot in downtown Toronto as it is surrounded by hospital centres, which allows for potential career and professional development opportunities.”
Are you happy with your choice? Is it what you expected?
“This program is not something easy, but it is very intriguing, and it taught me to continue to always strive for answers and be a better student. There is so much diversity in what you learn under this very broad umbrella. I’m very happy with this choice as every year I come in, I take new classes, and I experience a completely new perspective in the field which adds on to my past learnings. I wouldn’t have got this knowledge in any other program.”
Outside of class what are you involved with on campus at Ryerson and outside of Ryerson?
“I’ve always been involved in several student groups because I found it’s important to have some non-academic commitments that allow me to learn real-world skills that I may not learn in the classroom. From my first year until now, I have been a part of the Medical Physics Course Union. This group represents the entire program, and if there are any comments or concerns from the student body, we are the ones who bring it to the faculty. We also hold events that provide students insights on how to succeed and these events also help build a community within the school.
Aside from my academics, I have been a musician for most of my life, and I wanted to incorporate that in my university life. Another student group I joined in my first year was Musicians at Ryerson, and through this group I met a lot of great friends that I’m still close with today. We gained experience by playing music around campus, teaching music to young musicians and doing fun things like Valentine’s day Jamagrams where we would surprise students or professors in their classroom and serenade them. This group allowed me to form ties with the music community in Toronto. I have created my own band outside of school, and we got to perform at Bluesfest in Ottawa! I was very privileged to have this experience, and it’s something that I will never forget from my time spent outside of the university. You can check out my Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Soundcloud, and my videos on Youtube to learn more about my music career.”
What has been a highlight of your time at university?
“I have had such a great time since day one of university, but I will state something relevant to the unprecedented times during COVID-19. When the lockdown started during the winter semester in 2020, the Department of Physics was worried about the convocation, and how it was going to show the graduates that this accomplishment is very important. I felt bad for my peers who worked so incredibly hard these past four years and then just graduated at home, and did not feel as worthy to be celebrated. I ended up helping create a congratulations video for the class of 2020 of the Department of Physics, and it was well-appreciated. I also helped host the physics convocation in the summer, and I was asked to do it again for the fall. It felt really good to give back to the community.”
How have you found virtual learning during the pandemic?
“There are definitely ups and downs, but I’ll talk about the positives because I find that those have had a greater impact on my learning and my success at Ryerson. I think being able to watch lectures asynchronously (lectures that are posted ahead of time and can be watched whenever) has allowed me to better time manage myself, which is a skill that I have found very useful academically, and it will be useful for my career. I also found that I was able to retain more, and that it was a more effective way for me to take in the lecture content as opposed to sitting in a classroom at 8 a.m. while being half asleep and stressed about the rest of the day. This format allows me to pause if I have questions and go back to the textbook to look the subject up, and then come back to the lecture. I found that this was a lot more effective for me, but this also depends on your learning style, your professor and your home situation. Not everybody is privileged enough to have the luxury of being benefited by virtual learning.”
Can you describe your co-op experience?
“I have worked at two different companies for eight months each. I worked at the Ontario Power Generation (OPG) in Darlington in the Radiation Protection Training department. This experience was very hands-on compared to the classroom, and I learned a lot by seeing how they made safety a priority and reacted to dangerous events. The other co-op I had was at the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), and I worked there as a Customer Service Representative, which was a bit outside of my field, but my experiences working with the unique risks of radiation before this allowed me to have a unique entail on people who dealt with workplace hazards and how to make workplaces safer in Ontario.”
What’s a common misconception of your program?
“We are the only physics undergraduate program at Ryerson, and so some people who are more interested in theoretical heavy physics or just general physics come to this program and are confused about where the statistical physics and the other courses you would take in a general physics program at other schools are. Medical physics is a huge broad umbrella in this field and a lot of students come in thinking it’s something else.”
What’s next for you after graduation? What are your goals or plans?
“There are so many different things you can do with this degree, and I truly am intrigued by all of the options. After graduating with my co-op degree I may go straight into the workforce, and because of my work experience, I would be an asset for a lot of employers. I am also debating going to graduate school for the field of health physics and focusing on the protection of workers and the public against things like radiation. I can also get a Masters PhD in the field of psychology and study music’s effect on the brain. I’m speaking to a lot of my professors right now, and just trying to get my ideas straight about graduate programs and what I want from my career.”
Do you have any last words for prospective students?
“Don’t be afraid of the future and whether it may be difficult or easy. Just go for it!”