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(July 26, 2001, Gazette)

Canadian Medical Hall of Fame Youth Symposium

Sparks career interest

By Sharon Gray

What do you want to do with your life? That's a question every new university student has to think about seriously, and for many those reflections start in high school or earlier.

For students with an interest in the health professions, there's an opportunity each summer at the Faculty of Medicine's Med Quest program to explore many aspects of what are often called the "caring professions." Med Quest is offered mainly to students from rural areas of the province in six one-week sessions.

This year one group of Med Quest students had an exceptional opportunity as they participated July 16 in the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame Youth Symposium.

The day's activities included a career panel featuring a physiotherapist, a research scientist, an orthopedic surgeon and a past director of Grenfell Regional Health Services.

The dean of medicine at Memorial, Dr. Ian Bowmer, had a few words of advice for the high school students.

"As many in the healthcare field approach retirement age, it is you who will now pick up the torch. One of the purposes of starting Med Quest was to introduce the idea of the healthcare professions to high school students. We need you as ambassadors back in your schools."

Peter Morris, associate director of University Relations, moderated the panel and introduced the four guests. The most celebrated speaker was Dr. Robert Salter, who was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in 1995. He graduated from the University of Toronto in 1947, spent two years at what was then known as the Grenfell Medical Mission and subsequently returned to the University of Toronto to specialize in orthopedic surgery. He is currently professor emeritus of orthopedic surgery and senior scientist emeritus at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children.

Dr. Salter told the Med Quest students that even though he is 76 and has grandchildren their age, he's not retired yet.

Although he never met Sir Wilfred Grenfell, when Dr. Salter worked with the mission he was very taken with the quotation from the medical pioneer, "Life is a field of service." In 1982 he put his interest in heraldry to good use by designing Memorial's Medical School Coat of Arms and translating that phrase into Latin, thus making it the official motto of Memorial's Faculty of Medicine (Vita campus ministerii).

In explaining the career of physiotherapy, Janet O'Dea said that it is a young profession that only developed after the great wars in the last century when there was a clear need for rehabilitation. She did her degree at McGill and returned to Newfoundland where she is now largely involved in management, including acting as a liaison for students in the province interested in pursuing a career in physiotherapy.

As a neuroscientist, Dr. Dale Corbett explained that he works in a laboratory that specializes in research into stroke. "In high school I had no idea I would ever do anything like this. I was very good in chemistry so I went to Dalhousie to be a chemical engineer. I hated it. I wandered around, taking courses until I took a lab course in neuroscience, which is studying the brain. I had a very dynamic professor and my lab partner is now my wife."

Dr. Corbett's wife, Dr. Penny Moody-Corbett, is also a neuroscientist and the assistant dean for research and graduate studies in the Faculty of Medicine. Dr. Corbett pointed out to students that if they have a significant other who is also a professional, that can affect where they may eventually locate.

"The best thing about my job is that I still really enjoy it — the best career choice you can make is to follow your interests."
Students looking for more information about Med Quest can visit

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