Kristin Alumni - Lifelong Learner
When Alicia Cheong finished school in 2006 she already had a keen passion for health sciences and a career aspiration of becoming a doctor. Fast-forward 13 years and she is now working as a resident radiologist in Toronto, Canada, and is still studying - well aware that a career in medicine is a commitment to a lifetime of learning.
“The breadth and depth of medicine continue to astound me, and 13 formal years of training so far is merely the tip of the iceberg!” she says.
In 2005 Alicia and her family moved to Montreal, where she began to carve an education path to pursue her ambition of becoming a doctor. After completing four years of undergraduate studies at McGill University focusing on Immunology, followed by another four years of medical school (also at McGill), she moved to Toronto in 2014 to specialise in the field of radiology at the University of Toronto.
Alicia loves the diversity of her chosen speciality, where no two days are the same – “Residency training provides us exposure to all of radiology – paediatric and adult care, in the domains of general and subspecialty surgical and medical services, from prenatal to forensics and post-mortem imaging… It truly is the whole gamut!” she says.
“Being in medicine has forced me to walk the entire spectrum of life and death. It is stressful; it is emotionally challenging; the days are long, not including the extended work hours when on call. The profession is not without personal sacrifices and most importantly, we bear an immense responsibility: the lives of others are placed in our hands,” she says.
Alicia says her time at Kristin were formative years of her educational and career journey. “My career path has been rigorous and demanding, requiring dedication, focus and mental stamina – these qualities were cultivated from my time at Kristin. The education and support as a student were remarkable, not only in my academic pursuits but also in my other interests such as music, French language and culture and in all the enriching camping trips where I developed a love for the great outdoors.”
The learning never stops… With her five-year general radiology residency in Toronto drawing to an end in June, Alicia is moving to California where she has been accepted as a fellow at Stanford University to pursue a radiology subspecialty focusing on Body Imaging.
A global citizen, Alicia has been fortunate to live and work in a variety of places around the world. “I am often asked where I am from, or where is home, though I still find it a difficult question to answer! Home has never been a set place but, rather, a culmination of my experiences and memories which evoke a deep sense of belonging – and I have never doubted for a moment that I belonged, at Kristin School and in the beautiful land of Aotearoa.”
A small nugget of advice for aspiring doctors out there to take away? “Work hard, stay focused – keep the goal in sight. The journey is long but not impossible.”