Faces of U of T Medicine: Shelby and Chris Olesovsky

Aug 19, 2016
Julia Soudat

Shelby and Chris OlesovskyWith Orientation Week around the corner, the incoming class of 2T0 is getting ready to begin the journey at the Faculty of Medicine. Shelby and Chris Olesovsky are a brother and sister who are both starting medical school this year. Writer Julia Soudat caught up with them to find out what inspired them to become doctors, what they’re most excited about and what it’s like to be starting medical school with your sibling.

Have you always wanted to be a doctor? What made you want to become one?

Shelby: I have always been intrigued by medicine, but it was in grade five when I consciously decided I wanted to be a doctor. In high school I did a co-operative education placement in Cardiology at the Southlake Regional Health Centre, which sealed my passion for medicine. The more I learned about the profession, the more I found it to be the perfect mix of everything I loved.

Chris: Becoming a doctor has been a dream of mine for many years. I've always wanted to pursue a career in health care. Some of my earliest memories are visiting my grandfather who practiced family medicine for over 50 years. It was obvious how much he cared for his patients and the pride he took in helping them. I was always inspired by his work. As I got older, I pursued several opportunities that let me explore what a career in medicine would look like and the more I saw, the more I knew it was something I wanted to do.

What did you major in before applying to medical school?

Shelby: I did an Honour’s Bachelor of Science in Life Sciences at McMaster University with a Minor in Psychology and then I completed my Master’s of Science in Neuroscience at Queen’s University.

Chris: I graduated from McMaster's Health Sciences Honours program.

What are your areas of interest? Do you know which specialty you’d like to pursue?

Shelby: A piece of advice I’ve received from many physicians is not to go to medical school with one specialty in mind, but to be open to experiencing a variety and seeing which one fits best. That being said, I’ve always been drawn to family medicine – being able to get to know your patients over the course of their lives is something that really appeals to me.

Chris: Right now I’m interested in pursuing internal medicine as a specialty, but I'm hoping to explore other areas throughout my time at UofTMed to get a feel for all of the possibilities that are out there.

What aspects of being at UofTMed are you looking forward to most?

Shelby: I’m really looking forward to meeting my fellow classmates. I believe that a team approach is critical to good health care and inter-professional collaboration is really encouraged at UofTMed, which is an aspect of the program I’m looking forward to. Being at UofTMed also means being surrounded by world-renowned research facilities that are behind incredible innovations, which I’m looking forward to learning more about.

Chris: There are so many things I am looking forward to this year, like living downtown and being a part of the UofTMed community. I know I’ll be learning so much in the next four years and I can’t wait to see how much we all grow throughout this journey.

What aspect do you think will be the most challenging?

Shelby: I’m not under the impression that going through medical school will be easy. We’ll be learning how to provide care for people and that will undoubtedly involve knowing a lot of complex information. It’s incredibly exciting, but retaining all that material in a short timespan will provide some challenges!

Chris: I've heard that learning in medicine can feel like trying to drink out of a fire hydrant, with the flow of new information seemingly constant. Fortunately, it looks like the new curriculum is divided nicely into different themes, which I think will help in forming connections between our learning and make this process more manageable.

Are you aware this year marks the launch of the new Foundations Curriculum? What have you heard?

Shelby: Yes, I am aware the 2T0’s will be the first to fully experience the Foundations Curriculum and I think it’s very exciting. Medicine is constantly evolving, so it only makes sense that the manner in which physicians are trained should evolve too.  

Chris: I think the Foundations Curriculum will definitely be an exciting change for UofTMed. I think case-based learning will give us a great chance to apply the knowledge we are learning in class to clinical scenarios.  I know a lot of work has gone into developing it and I'm excited to play my part as the pilot cohort to help make it even better for future years to come.

How does it feel to be going to medical school with your sibling? Do you think this makes your experience unique in any way?

Shelby: Chris and I are not strangers to taking our first steps together; we learned how to bike, downhill ski, and water ski on the same days, so it feels right to be taking my first steps in medical school with him. We have always been close - we were raised to put family first, so sharing this experience with one of the people I trust, respect and care about most will be really special.

Chris: I’m so excited to go to medical school with my sister! I never thought it would actually happen, but now that it has, I know it will make the next four years all the more enjoyable. It will be so nice to have a built-in support system. We both went to McMaster for our undergrads and had two years together there, so we're definitely used to spending a lot of time together. At the end of the day, it’ll be nice knowing family is never too far away.


Faces of U of T Medicine introduces you to some of the interesting people studying in the Faculty of Medicine. From advising political leaders to providing care to Toronto’s most vulnerable populations, our students and faculty are making an impact on communities at home and around the world.

Do you have an interesting story to share? Contact us at medicine.communications@utoronto.ca.


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