They are both islands. They both jut out into the Atlantic Ocean. And they both have towns named St. Johns. Other than that, Newfoundland and Saba couldn’t be more different. But for Katie Macdonald, MD, traveling from the often frozen environs of Newfoundland to the Caribbean warmth of Saba was much more than just a change in climate—it was the realization of a dream.
She was an honors graduate of Newfoundland’s Memorial University with a B.Sc. in Psychology and stayed on to earn an M.Sc (Med) in Neuroscience. During college and grad school, she did stints in the medical school’s standardized patient program, was a teaching assistant in neuroanatomy and traveled to Katmandu, Nepal to pitch in at the Leprosy Clinic & Health Education Center operated there by the Shanti-Seawa Griha international aid organization.
All the while, she kept hearing about this medical school on an island she had never heard of.
“I just kept hearing about Saba University and that a lot of Canadians had really positive things to say about it. I looked into it more and I learned that you could do clerkships in both the U.S and Canada, which really appealed to me. It was always my dream to come back to Canada.”
She describes her time on Saba as “beautiful, fun and challenging. I felt that the training that we received was excellent and I was really well prepared for clinicals.”
She chose to do her core clinicals in different states because she really wanted to take in a lot of the U.S. Saba was instrumental in helping her arrange elective rotations in Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island, and was very supportive of her going into both the Canadian and U.S residency match.
She got her top choice: a two year residency in family medicine at Memorial University of Newfoundland.
Next steps after her residency? “I am interested in working at a community outpatient clinic, potentially in the area of palliative care.”
What advice would she share with incoming Canadian students? “I would counsel them against looking too far into the future about just coming home to Canada. Go with an open mind. Saba offers you the chance to match into two great countries.”