McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

McMaster alumna pens book on medical education

By Laura Thompson
Published: December 11, 2008
Anne Berndl
Dr. Anne Berndl, McMaster alumna and resident in obstetrics and gynecology at Dalhousie University

Navigating the path to medical school can be a bit of mystery for aspiring doctors. Everyone knows a successful application requires more than good grades, but what else does it take?

McMaster alumna Dr. Anne Berndl is hoping to shed light on the process of becoming a physician in Canada with her first book, So You Want to be a Doctor, Eh? The career guide is aimed at preparing would-be doctors for the journey through medical school and beyond.

"I think medical education is still a bit of a mystery to some people," said the 28-year-old physician, who is now based in Halifax.

 "I’m really hoping that the people who read the book are contemplating a medical career. I think that what they will get out of it is a clear sense of what is ahead of them."

Berndl earned her medical degree from McMaster in 2005. She is now pursuing specialty training as a resident in obstetrics and gynecology at Dalhousie University.

During her first year of residency, she created the Doctor Starter website after a friend of a friend asked for her advice about medical school. When a publisher stumbled upon her website, she was asked to write a book.

"I was totally thrilled for a couple weeks, and then I suddenly realized how much work it was going to be," she said. "I was doing a residency at the same time, but I managed to get both done. It was a real honour."

Berndl’s book provides a comprehensive roadmap to medical education Canada — explaining everything from the extra-curricular activities required for a successful medical school application to the long sleepless nights that are a staple of residency.

"There’s a lot of personal growth that happens during medical school," Berndl said. "I think the big thing I learned in medical school was how important clerkship was. What you get out of it really is what you put into."

Her other advice for doctor hopefuls is to spend time developing people skills.

"I think if you want to prepare to be a doctor, you have to realize that it’s art of which science is one of its tools," she said. "You can learn the science. But the human interaction part is something that you need to have some experiences with to develop that skill."

Next semester, Berndl will host a virtual chat through McMaster’s Career Services about applying to medical school. A date has not yet been finalized for the session.  Please check the calendar on the Career Services website for updates. 

So You Want to be a Doctor, Eh? is available at Titles in Gilmour Hall, the Health Sciences Bookstore, Chapters and

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