Nora Morrison is pursuing her dream of becoming a GP on the west coast. Photo supplied

Tofino woman’s plan for medical school nearly derailed by health crisis

Tofino resident/North Island College alumna Nora Morrison is heading to the University of Northern B.C. this fall to start her clinical training in medical school – a journey almost derailed by her own health crisis.

Morrison was accepted into the UBC Northern Medical program after completing her undergraduate degree through UVic, with the help of courses from NIC.

“I started out being interested in education, but I had a really great biology teacher in high school who got me interested in biology and medicine,” she said. “I also loved the idea of continuous learning and the connection to community you get as a general practitioner, which is important to me, being from Tofino.”

Morrison left the west coast for Montreal to do her first year at McGill when her own health crisis hit. After being diagnosed with a brain tumour and undergoing surgeries, she transferred to UVic to be close to her specialists and continue her studies. It also strengthened her desire to go into medicine.

“It added this additional layer onto this goal I already had,” she said. “It reaffirmed for me the importance of having physicians that can look at cases holistically, who have good communication skills and who look at the patient as a whole, rather than just the ailment. It definitely increased my motivation.”

Morrison continued her studies while undergoing treatment and returned to NIC to take courses when she couldn’t be in school full-time.

She was familiar with NIC, having previously taken dual credit courses as a high school student and a few upgrading classes. She was able to complete all her electives thanks to NIC’s online offerings and the support of her NIC instructors.

“My instructors were very flexible and very supportive,” she said. “They worked with me to balance my other school work and helped me align my studies with my thesis so I could delve deeply into what I was studying. It made the learning experience really valuable.”

Morrison finished her honours bachelor of science in biology this year. She heads to Prince George this fall to start her medical training.

“I was drawn to the UNBC campus because I’ve had really good experiences in small classes and online courses,” she said. “I feel a strong pull to rural and Indigenous communities and wanted that reflected in my education.”

Morrison’s goal is to become a general practitioner and move back to the west coast to practice in her home community.

She is grateful to NIC for being there to help her reach her goal.

“I had a great experience,” she said. “There’s something that a smaller institution provides. It’s hard to pinpoint it. There’s a layer of community that I got from NIC that was pretty special. When those connections happen and you can get such great value from your studies – that’s when the great learning happens.”

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