‘A doctor? Me?’ How Victoria’s med school journey included an alumni helping hand

May 25, 2023
Victoria Mintsopoulos smiles as she stands by the concrete cubes outside the Medical Sciences Building.
Photo by Camelia Linta

Victoria Mintsopoulos (MSc 2019, MD 2023) decided to become a doctor after a teacher believed in her potential. After exploring different areas of the health field, she’s chosen family medicine and dreams of fulfilling the urgent need for comprehensive, holistic patient care. Along the way, she’s danced to raise funds for cancer, found creative ways to learn despite pandemic restrictions, and helped deliver two babies.

As we celebrate Alumni Reunion 2023, Victoria shares her journey and how much it meant to receive support from the Class of 2003.

I had a great childhood. I played soccer, I danced, I really loved math and sciences.

But I never thought of being a doctor. My parents were immigrants and I didn’t have anyone around me that was in medicine. In elementary school, one teacher was very special to me. Before graduation, she went around the class and gave each of us her idea of what she thought we would be good at. She looked at me and said, “you’d be a great doctor.” And I was like, “What, really? Me?”

I tried to explore different areas of medicine to see what was right for me.

Becoming a physician was a very long road, so I wanted to make sure that I was sure about that decision. Through high school I continued to excel in sciences and math, and for undergrad, I went to Queen’s for life sciences. When I did not get into medical school on my first try, I decided to do a master’s of science. And I shadowed people, and I continued learning. I finally got into medical school at U of T and I was super excited! It’s a fantastic school.

In the end, I felt like family medicine aligns with what I wanted from medicine.

I got interested in obstetrics and gynecology early on in medical school. I really love psychiatry. I really love internal medicine. I really love women’s health. But family medicine is the area that matches best with the three reasons I love medicine.

First, I can create long-standing relationships with patients, and relationships are very important to me, coming from a European family. I’ll also have the opportunity to be a leader—for example, while in medical school I worked at a vaccination clinic that served shelters and saw how even a small initiative changed the outcomes for the unhoused population. And, finally, I can be a guide who helps patients navigate the health-care system—whether they’re coming in with reflux, or mental health issues, or forms that they need for work—I just want to help solve those problems.

We really need family doctors who are doing comprehensive care.

I’m really excited to start my family medicine residency at U of T and Women’s College Hospital in July. Down the road, I know that I do want to have a comprehensive practice, and that will make me feel like I’m giving back to the community. I also see myself doing some sort of women’s health clinic, and in addition, I would like to incorporate some obstetric patients.

I’ve helped deliver two babies already.

It was amazing. It was scary. It was very, very special.

COVID had impacts good and not so good.

I had a lot of time to pay attention to what I was learning, so I did feel my medical knowledge was strong. On the flip side, it was hard to actually practice how to do physical exams over Zoom. When I started hospital rotations, that kind of got me down, but I tried to seek opportunities to see more exams with residents or staff, and then have them watch me.

I told myself that when I got into medical school, I need to start doing stuff I love again.

During undergrad, I felt like I had no time to get involved. So at U of T I got myself back into dancing. I joined the U of T Dance Club and volunteered for the Daffydil musical, a show that U of T medical students put on every year to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society. I was the choreographer and one of the dancers for two years. It was such an incredible experience, a great community and a lot of fun!

I feel very humbled to receive the Medicine Class of 0T3 Memorial Bursary Fund 2013.

And very lucky, and very appreciative. As someone who is the first physician in the family, it’s been a great support for my medical training. Coming out of medical school can be financially stressful. Scholarships like this will help alleviate the stress.

And every time someone gives to me, I think about how I can give back.

For now, I’ve been trying to give back through mentorship opportunities. I had a medical student mentor throughout my undergrad, and now I am mentoring two undergrad students. We’ll meet for coffee or a simple dinner and just talk about different things like research positions and applications—they are both applying to medical school this year. I’m hopeful that in the future when I pay off my debt, I can also try to start creating some sort of financial help for those who need it.