Dr. Sarwal shares how the BMLSc program prepared him for medical school and his career in vascular surgery. He highlights the benefits of learning from clinical faculty in a small class setting.
What is your current career or current educational program?
I am currently pursuing a clinical fellowship in Vascular Interventional Radiology at St. Paul’s Hospital to better diagnose and address vascular pathology.
Describe what you do.
Having completed my residency in Vascular Surgery, I’m currently the interventional radiology fellow at St. Paul’s Hospital. I also work as the cardiovascular surgery associate and combine my abilities as a Vascular Surgeon with Interventional Radiology to provide multi-disciplinary vascular and endovascular diagnostics and therapeutics to patients with vascular disease.
What has been your journey, since graduating from the BMLSc Program?
Since graduating from the BMLSc program in 2009, I have completed medical school at UBC in 2014, a Masters in Surgical Education in 2018, and a 6-year Vascular Surgery residency at UBC in 2021. During my years as a surgical resident, I continued doing research into atherosclerosis and vascular disease at St. Paul’s hospital and examined their novel surgical approach at addressing iliofemoral disease and contributed to medical school training by teaching suturing to medical students and delivering lectures on vascular medicine and surgery. For this, I was awarded the Garth Warnock surgical prize in 2020 for being a senior surgical resident who demonstrated the qualities of being a well-rounded surgeon.
How did your BMLSc degree help you to get where you are now?
The program provided me with a well-rounded pathology foundation that I was able to apply towards medical school. Additionally, I met my summer research supervisor in the program (Dr. J. Frohlich) with whom I worked for over 6 summer semesters, resulting in 2 clinical publications and countless hours in his clinic seeing patients with cardiovascular disease and hyperlipidemia. I use my pathology and laboratory medicine training and supplement it with my surgical and radiological training to help diagnose and treat patients with complex vascular disease.
What is the most valuable experience you gained from the BMLSc Program?
The BMLSc program is the most well-designed pre-medical curriculum for those thinking of graduate studies or medical school. It is intense but prepares you incredibly well for both these fields and beyond. The familiarity with the clinical professors also makes future endeavors such as seeking research projects or clinical rotations seamless. To date, I run into many clinical professors from my BMLSc years on the wards and in the hospital and my patients see these benefits given this collegiality.
What did you enjoy most about the program?
I really enjoyed the small class sizes and the close interactions with the clinical faculty and professors who were so closely involved in our teaching. Having the majority of our classes in one space at UBC hospital without having to navigate the campus was also a bonus.
What is one piece of advice that you would give to BMLSc students and recent graduates?
You will be extremely well prepared when applying for medical school and beyond as the content, curriculum and lecturers from BMLSc overlap almost entirely with the first year of medical school and grad studies. And there’s nothing like repetition to reinforce content. It will be a lot of, “hey I’ve read this before or I’ve seen these slides before,” during your first year of medical school.
Name one thing on your bucket list.
I would love to travel again.