LMP’s Undergraduate Specialist Program: Q&A with Jelena Tanic

Thursday, January 28, 2016
Fourth-year LMP undergraduate Pathobiology Specialist Program student Jelena Tanic
Fourth-year LMP undergraduate Pathobiology Specialist Program student Jelena Tanic

Jelena Tanic, co-president of the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology’s Student Union (LMPSU) and aspiring clinician-scientist, discusses her experience in LMP’s Specialist Program. Now in her final year of undergraduate studies, Tanic is eager to offer advice to the next generation of pathobiology specialists.

Why did you choose to study pathobiology? I was drawn to the selection of courses LMP offered, a variety which I didn’t often see in other programs. I had also heard about the small class sizes, and that was appealing for me because I like having personal interaction with professors and classmates.

What have been your favourite moments as an LMP student? Some of my favourite moments have happened outside of the classroom. Our class is very closely knit and we often get together to discuss coursework and to have fun. I’ve also enjoyed organizing events with LMPSU. This year, the LMP Undergraduate Conference on Immunotherapy in the context of diseases was very successful and was a great way to get to know the specialist students!

How do you find a balance between extracurricular activities and school work? The most effective way to manage time is to plan ahead and to set a study goal. Choose one thing you want to work on when you have time left in between classes or extracurricular activities.  When you have little time and lots to do, you are forced to finish what you’ve planned to do without getting distracted in between. In this way, I avoid procrastinating even when things get very busy. For example, currently, I work as a relief instructor for tennis, a piano teacher and I volunteer at SickKids. Time management has really helped me keep up with all these activities in addition to school work.  

Where do you see yourself in five years? I’ve always wanted to be a doctor, but learning about scientific research through LMP’s courses has also made me interested in research. I would love to become a pediatrician who conducts research as well as running a clinical practice.

How has LMP helped you pursue your goals? LMP provides a broad field of study that exposes you to many different experiences and areas you might potentially pursue. The wide range of topics we’ve covered has helped me make connections across many of my other courses. For the lab component of LMP300Y, the introductory pathobiology course for third-year specialists, we visited the Toronto General Hospital to see cardiovascular pathology specimens. I had always thought of working in a hospital one day, but I wasn’t sure if I would actually be suited for it. So seeing different specimens in an actual hospital setting, and visualizing myself there, helped me realize that this is something I would like to do.

What has the LMPSU achieved so far this year? The biggest event for the committee is the annual conference in late January. This year’s conference on immunotherapy was a great success, with over 200 attendees. We recently also held an academic seminar where students heard from Dr. Michael Pollanen, Ontario’s Chief Forensic Pathologist, about his inspiring work in Iraq. Currently, we are working hard towards instituting a mentorship program for the LMP students. We hope that this program will give students the chance to interact with one another and strengthen the bond in the LMP community.

Do you have any advice for current and prospective LMP students? For prospective students, don’t be scared of the course load, or rather, the perceived course load. As long as you manage your time well and take the courses because you want to, not just to fulfill some requirement, you’ll be just fine. For current students, keep doing what you’re doing. Maximize your learning from both your lectures and from your peers, because valuable resources are all around you!