Dear Dr. Faizal,

I’ve been living in Canada for two years. Before coming here, I had a lot of dreams. But, here my life is very different. I always wanted to be a doctor, however, here (in Canada) I would need to complete a lot of requirements to get into a Bachelor of Science in Biology. Plus, I would need to work while in school. I’m so confused as to what my next step should be. If I go through with the process of completing admission requirements and starting the BSc program, would I even be able to finish my degree? What if it’s too hard?

– Doctor Dreams

Dear Doctor Dreams,

Welcome to Canada – a country where all our dreams can come true if we believe in ourselves!

What concerns me is that I sense a great deal of self-doubt in your question. Before even beginning your admirable journey, you’re placing roadblocks of not having enough prerequisites, of having to work while attending school and of the program being “too hard.”

I wonder where this self-doubt is coming from. Many new immigrants to Canada are overwhelmed by the new society and culture, which, understandably, is different from what they are used to back home. Such difference or unfamiliarity sometimes triggers people’s insecurities and creates self-doubt. As the master playwright, William Shakespeare, once said, “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”

So, to overcome your doubts, you must conquer your fears to attempt, which you do by doing just that: attempt the prerequisites needed, attempt your application process, and attempt your Bachelors! People never make any headway by oscillating between doing something and not doing it. Take charge of your life and jump in with both feet!

As I say to my counselling students and clients, “Dream big and take baby steps to achieve your goals.” Perhaps you could begin your courses at a slower than usual rate by enrolling part-time or taking courses in the evenings. This would enable you to also work part-time.

Having volunteer experience in a related field is an asset when applying to medical school. I recommend you volunteer at a local hospital or some specialized medical setting in your spare time. Speak with the health care professionals about the profession and how these individuals got there. Pick their minds about how they applied to this profession. Learn. Learn. Learn. After every volunteer job, no matter how short, get recommendation letters from those in charge, which you could add to your application to demonstrate your ability.

Remember that you are your biggest asset! Once you apply yourself to your goals and take the appropriate steps, you will achieve. Life coach, Lynda Field, puts this into perspective: “People who achieve their goals do so with passion, planning, persistence, and purpose.”

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