Convocation Spotlight Series II David Antle

Knowledge seeker. Proud father. Future family physician.

FoMD Communications staff - 08 June 2020

David Antle is a graduate of the U of A MD program's Class of 2020.

As your journey comes to a close, what advice do you have for new students?

Embrace the atmosphere around campus. Having genuine interest in expanding knowledge and finding out how best to achieve that during university are invaluable. Believe me, you'll use it in any job you ultimately find. Careers are going to be very different from the ones that existed for the previous generations of graduates, and you will need to be a true lifelong learner.

How did you engage with student life on campus?

Medical school was so rich in terms of student life on campus and in the clinical teaching environments. First and foremost, my classmates have added so much value and perspective to my life as a whole, and I am so thankful for them. Beyond that, there were so many opportunities to engage in areas of research interest with various groups within the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, and opportunities to join clubs and advocacy groups that provided excellent insight, entertainment and time with friends.

What was your most memorable UAlberta experience?

My most memorable experience at UAlberta actually did not even happen while I was in the province. I grew up in rural Newfoundland, so I did a rotation there as a way to work on my medical training and also visit my parents and sister. My fiancee, at six months pregnant, came with me for the planned two-week rotation. However, while we were there, our son Greyson arrived very prematurely, triggering a prolonged stay in the NICU in St. John's, NL, and later a stay in the McGill University Health Centre NICU in Montreal, QC. This all placed us under a great deal of stress. However, the support and help I received from faculty, preceptors and my classmates was outstanding, and I couldn't be more grateful!

I was able to shift a portion of my rotations to St. John's so I could continue to work and train while supporting my son and fiancee. I was allowed to adjust some of my schedule when we returned to Edmonton to make up for missed time and ensure I would still graduate on time. My classmates-particularly my closest friends in the class-provided so much encouragement and support. They are always so genuine in their care for their peers and their patients, and they do it so naturally that I'm not sure they realize it. They'll be fantastic physicians!

I returned after more than two months of being away in the fall of 2019 and was still on pace for a 2020 graduation. I have a growing, healthy and strong little boy that I never had to leave behind because of the kindness of this faculty. This community and the leadership within it are why I wanted so badly to remain part of UAlberta for residency.

What was your favourite rotation during your program?

My favourite rotations in medical school were in family medicine. The variety of skills and knowledge you get to apply keep your day interesting, and I really enjoy the conversation and engagement with patients. There is so much you can understand about health and required treatments by actually trying to learn about that person, their life, their job, their educational background. Context is often king in medicine, and conversations are the only way to get there. Family medicine gave me the most opportunity to have those conversations.

Who was your favourite preceptor?

I had so many amazing preceptors in medical school that I hope to emulate. One in particular I would like to highlight is Islam Elawadly, who was my rural family medicine preceptor. Dr. Elwadly was not only supportive and kind, but he played the role of coach during my time with him. Feedback was targeted, and he would give an action plan for how to gain specific skills or knowledge for diagnosis and management of a patient issue. Perhaps most importantly, Dr. Elawadly was so skilled at engaging patients and making them feel comfortable, and it was obvious he was engaged in the conversation and really wanted to get to know each patient. This was early in my clinical training, and watching his patient interactions definitely formed a framework for how I wanted to engage my patients for the rest of medical school and into residency.

What have you learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, and how do you think this will affect your career?

The pandemic taught me that people truly miss social interaction and in-person conversations far more than we may have realized. For my career in medicine, this really means something. There is talk of changing health-care delivery to involve increasing technology, artificial intelligence and outsourced services, but these cannot come at the expense of personal interactions between doctors and patients. Both sides crave and need that interaction and time together. The value of conversation to attaining understanding and context in medicine is critically important, and the depth and quality of those conversations have to have social interaction at their root.

How do you plan to celebrate convocation?

With a small gathering of friends in a backyard, respecting social distancing :)