Schulich School of Medicine Abbreviated Autobiographical Sketch Samples

As part of the application via OMSAS, applicants must highlight their top life experiences that relate to each of Schulich Medicine's four core values. In each case, applicants are asked to share what they have learned and how it will be useful in a future career as a physician. Schulich’s core values are:

  1. Teamwork and Leadership
  2. Respect for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  3. Social Accountability and Social Responsibility
  4. Self-directed Learning, Problem-solving, and Critical Inquiry

Abbreviated ABS Samples

Sample #1

Type of activity: Extracurricular

Description of role: Stage manager for Spitfire Productions, filled in for Production Manager

Hours per week: 20

Time commitment: 5 years

Description of activity:

I joined Spitfire Productions initially as an actor, participating in 3 independent productions during my free time. I transitioned to assistant stage manager and then stage manager over the course of 2 years, helping to produce 6 more stage plays with the company. In my fourth year with the company, our head production manager had to take an extended leave of absence. Due to my years of experience with Spitfire, I was asked to fill in. Without our production manager to oversee our latest production, I was responsible for the entire project.

Taking on this new role meant I had to quickly learn what the production manager’s jobs and tasks were, so I engaged in self-directed learning and problem-solving. I reviewed all the necessary tasks of the production manager, prioritized them, and scheduled what needed to be done and when to keep the production on time and on budget. I also took over communicating with our advertising partners, our contacts at the ABC Theatre venue, and ticket sellers. I made it a point to organize a weekly meeting with my entire production team to ensure we were on the same page about our progress.

I had years of experience at this point working with the team, so I shifted my focus slightly to take on a leadership role, becoming the offstage director instead of an onstage actor. As the new leader of the production, I took responsibility for the realization of the show, ensuring every department was on schedule and had the resources they needed, whether that meant costumes, rehearsal time, or set construction and design. Over a period of three months, we were able to galvanize and solve some minor scheduling and wardrobe mishaps, and the production had a sold-out opening night.

This experience of being unexpectedly put in charge helped me to exercise my problem-solving, collaboration, and leadership skills as I interacted with my team in a new role and was able to appreciate the big picture look at a theatre production from off the stage. It also required quite a lot of self-directed learning as I taught myself the ropes of the production manager role.

Sample #2

 Type of activity: Extracurricular

Description of role: Head Coach of Hornets Sled Hockey Team

Hours per week: 15

Time commitment: 3 years

Description of activity:

As the head coach of a youth sled hockey team, I am responsible for a variety of administrative tasks and team training. This includes scheduling practices, organizing games and tournaments, setting the training regimen for my players, and providing support on and off the ice. I have been involved with the Hornets for the past 3 years and was made head coach one year ago after serving as an assistant coach.

Being involved with this sled hockey team has developed my teamwork and leadership skills, of course, as I work on fostering a strong and positive team environment for the kids and the other coaches. Athletics are important for our youth’s health and for bringing diverse groups together, but the sport of sled hockey in particular and the kids who participate have given me a greater appreciation of inclusivity.

Hockey is a sport every kid should be able to play if they want to and riding the ice on sleds instead of skates makes it accessible to everyone regardless of physical ability. Our team has kids with and without physical disabilities who prefer sleds to skates. The way sled hockey can teach kids about different abilities and break down perceived barriers by showing them that anyone can physically participate in a sport is incredible.

My time with the Hornets has cemented my belief that any activity can be made accessible and inclusive, including team sports which often have set rules and established structures. Diversity in sports shows us how important it is to respect diversity in all aspects of life, since sports can have such a large impact on youth development and personal growth, and youth who have a physical disability often have more difficulty finding accommodations for them.

Sample #3

Type of activity: Volunteer

Description of role: Assisting a neighbor with an injury after falling on ice

Hours per week: N/A

Time commitment: 1-day only event

Description of activity:

In the winter of [Year] I was walking to the city bus stop early one morning on my way to classes. The sidewalks were extremely icy and slippery, and it had snowed that night. Suddenly, I heard someone yelling for help down a side street. The street was almost deserted, so I went to investigate. One of my neighbours had slipped on the ice and couldn’t stand or call for help, as she didn’t have a cell phone. Quickly, I went over to her and asked if she was injured. I was able to establish that she was ok but needed support to avoid putting weight on one leg. I brought her inside her apartment building and called for an ambulance to take her to the ER, where she was treated for a broken ankle.

This incident has stayed with me. My neighbour had been calling for help without success. She’d been stuck for nearly an hour, and the temperature was very low. I am not sure whether anyone heard her or if her calls had been ignored. People can sometimes rush to judgment about a situation and fail to act when they should. Due to the wintry conditions, my neighbor might have been stuck far longer had I not come to help, and her injuries might have been more severe.

I have always done my best to help others, but this event reminds me how important it is for a person to develop a social conscience and sense of social responsibility – and, for example, to be alert and attentive to the well-being of people in their community. I would certainly have wanted someone to come to my rescue had I been in a similar position. Seeing my neighbour safe and healing from her broken ankle reminded me that we have a duty to look out for each other and provide aid wherever we can.

Sample #4

Type of activity: Employment

Description of role: Associate at XYZ Drug Store and Pharmacy

Hours per week: 25

Time commitment: 3 years

Description of activity:

My first real job I was hired as a cashier a XYZ Drug Store. I was trained on the till and set to work. After 2 months of cashiering, I moved to an associate position, which would normally mean stocking shelves, assisting customers, and helping with orders. However, I was enlisted to assist the pharmacy staff as well, for which I had no prior training. Most of my new tasks were unfamiliar to me, and I received only minimal guidance from my supervisor in a store that was chronically understaffed. Consequently, I had to figure out most of them on my own.

This job developed my critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. Essentially, every day I would be faced with a new set of tasks to complete or problems to handle without much in the way of guidance. This is where self-directed learning came in. If there was an issue with a store order, I asked questions and consulted available paperwork to diagnose the problem and propose solutions. If the pharmacy staff were busy and a customer needed assistance finding over-the-counter medication, I stepped in. Soon enough, I knew the front-end pharmacy wares by heart.

Looking back, I see how it was important for me to take initiative and learn on the job so I could properly help customers. Because the store was frequently busy and there weren’t enough staff members to go around, I had to learn by doing, rather than waiting for a supervisor to come direct me each time. Although the job could be stressful or chaotic at times, I am grateful for the skills it taught me and the sense of initiative and action it instilled in me. I think these attributes will only be enhanced as a physician in the even more intense environment of a hospital or medical clinic.

Sample #5

Type of activity: Extracurricular

Description of role: Founder of Gay-Straight Alliance Club at X High School; junior and senior year

Hours per week: 10

Time commitment: 2 years

Description of activity:

In my junior year of high school, I decided to create a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club. My school had never had one before and given that we were located in a traditionally conservative area, it was a bit of a surprise to the school staff. However, I knew there were other teens like me who didn’t have a safe space to socialize and interact with other students.

Founding this club showed me that diversity is a reality of life, even in places where there doesn’t seem to be much diversity, such as the area where I grew up. People are all different, and it does have an impact when there is a place for people who don’t fit in to gather and share their experiences. Like me, there were many club members who didn’t feel comfortable being out at school or at home. During club meetings, it was inspiring to see people able to not only feel comfortable in their diversity but to actively show it off.

Even more inspiring was seeing the friendships that were created between club members and club allies. Many of these allies started out as students who didn’t understand our point of view. Thanks to the open discussion in the club, straight students could be welcomed and introduced to the diversity in our school.

I think the success of the club was made possible because it had the specific purpose of creating a space for LGBTQ+ students to socialize, but it was inclusive to all. In a sense, it created a safe space for diversity. And in my final years of high school this club definitely helped me personally, but it was incredible to see how openness leading to understanding could help an entire school community become more inclusive and accepting.

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