Future doctor looks back at Prince Albert roots

Jodi Schellenberg
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Med students have to do internships in different disciplines -- right now, Breann Kozun is doing her family medicine rotation in Prince Albert.

Breann Kozun has been in Prince Albert doing a two-week rotation in family medicine for her med school internship. After her internships are completed, Kozun will be doing a pediatric residency in Saskatoon.

Growing up, Kozun didn’t dream about being a doctor, but found her path while in university.

“To be honest, my parents never really forced us to do anything,” Kozun said. “They were never like, ‘You have to do this.’ All they wanted us to do was get a university education -- they didn’t care where we went or what we did.”

When she first graduated from St. Mary High School in Prince Albert, Kozun went to the University of Regina.

“Medicine was always in the background but I don’t have any family that does medicine so it was just more of a push for myself to try something that I didn’t think I would be able to do,” Kozun said.

After two years in Regina, Kozun then moved to Saskatoon where she finished her biochemistry degree. She got into medicine after applying twice.

Kozun said the cliché of wanting to help people is true, but that was not the only reason she wanted to become a doctor.

“Of course you want that (but) it was more of a challenge for me to try something different and expand my horizons,” Kozun said. “I had the mind for it. Once I got there and I started practicing it, I knew it was the right thing for me and I knew it was what I wanted.”

School was very interesting, she said, but it seems like yesterday she started in the program.

Out of the 85 students in her class, there are only two from Prince Albert, Kozun said.

The first year of school focused on anatomy and physiology -- the basics of medicine.

“It is always a struggle, because the amount you had to learn and the time and just how you had to manage your priorities became a little bit different,” Kozun said.

“Then second year hits you and it is just -- honestly the best way to describe it is a gong show. It just seems like there is an overwhelming amount of information for you to know because now you are not only learning the normal, but learning the abnormal and how many different versions of abnormal there can be.”

The second year was also interesting because the students are introduced to clinics and get to interact with patients.

“It is really … you are learning to be a physician and it is quite overwhelming and daunting experience,” Kozun said. “It is absolutely amazing. I loved it.”

Since the first two years are tough, Kozun said you meet people who will be your friends throughout the rest of your schooling because they understand the challenges being faced.

“You get the ups and downs, you get the hardships, how hard everything can be, those tough patients and tough cases and you have to find those people to sit and talk to about it,” Kozun said.

After her first two years, the medicine students entered internships.

“That is when you really know you are where you’re meant to be,” Kozun said.

Kozun is excited to be doing her two-week family medicine rotation here.

“Just because it is home for me and at the end of my school, I decided I would come home for a couple weeks and work here,” Kozun said. “I have always done extra internships and community experience, I have always come home for those because it is always nice to (come home). They are so welcoming and so delightful.”

After her rotation here, she will head to La Ronge for a few weeks for a rural medicine rotation.

In their fourth year, the students have to enter the Canadian Residency Match Service in September, applying to different specialties for residency.

“I applied for pediatrics and general surgery, because those were my two interests,” Kozun said.

“What was really shocking about our class actually is … most of us matched to U of S programs,” Kozun said. “There are a lot of us at the U if S to begin with, but there are a lot of us who actually got into U of S programs.”

On March 5, the 25-year-old found out she will be in the U of S Pediatrics program.

“I always have liked kids,” Kozun said, describing her personality as bubbly and talkative. “I have always gotten along better with kids than adults.”

Dealing with kids, “you can still have that imagination and you can still have that fun,” Kozun said.

Although many people think working with sick children would be difficult, Kozun said you have to look at the positives.

“You can’t look at it that way -- you have to look at the resilience of these kids,” Kozun said. “You take that aspect out of it because no aspect of medicine is always going to be happy. No one wants to be in the hospital, not ne wants to be sick, but inevitably, that is what you are looking at.”

Even dealing with demanding parents isn’t a problem, Kozun said, because you understand they just want the best for their children.

After her residency in pediatrics, Kozun would like to do a fellowship -- right now she is considering critical care or cardiology, but she may change her mind in the next three years.

She has to do the residency and fellowship in Saskatoon, because Prince Albert does not have a facility or equipment for pediatrics.

“I must admit, the pediatricians here are definitely some of the people who drove me to go into peds,” Kozun said. “When you see the care for their patients and how they are with their patients -- just their demeanor towards each other … it is just so phenomenal. I cannot speak more highly of it. That is what attracted me to it as well.”

She may be able to do some of her training in Prince Albert during her residency.

“In our residency, we can come to Prince Albert and do some of our training here, which is really nice, so I would like to do that,” Kozun said. “I think just with the fellowships I am interested in right now -- this is four or five years away -- I would more likely to be in Saskatoon unfortunately than coming back to Prince Albert just because of where things are.”

Although the pediatricians in Prince Albert have inspired her, Kozun said there have been a lot of role models in her life, including a couple of Prince Albert teachers.

“One of my favourite high school teachers was Mr. (Dennis) Corcoran who was my physics teacher,” Kozun said. “He was always there to push me to try more and use my mind a little bit more.

“He had such a positive attitude. He was actually one of my reference letters when I was applying to get into medical school,” she added. “I will always have that special place for him.”

Her Grade 6 teacher was also a big inspiration in her life.

“When I was in Grade 6, I had Mrs. Rapin and she was amazing,” Kozun said. “She helped us get through so many things and it was nice to see she had such a positive aspect with young kids. I think that is where I got that you can make a change in a young kid’s mind.”

At the end of Kozun’s second year, Rapin asked her to be the guest speaker at the St. Mary graduation.

“It filled my heart with such joy that I could do something like that and she just made such a positive influence on me in that aspect,” Kozun said. “Those two are pretty big people in my life that influenced me. I don’t think for medicine, but just to keep pushing to be a better version of myself and pushing through things.”

She loves being in medicine and learning something new every day.

“Once I got settled and realized this is where I wanted to be, every aspect of medicine, still to this day, is so appealing and I can learn so much -- it doesn’t matter if I am at the hospital or a family clinic or a community clinic,” Kozun said. “If you take out something positive out of each day and something to learn, it keeps your day going and it keeps you up-to-date with what is going on.

“The one thing I always promised myself, every uncomfortable positive I find myself put in, I will dive right into it because that is the only way you are going to learn,” she added. “The way I had biases before has changed so much, the way I view patients, how I think about patients, how I work. It is still such an excitement every day to wake up and go to work.”

Organizations: Prince Albert, Mary High School, University of Regina Canadian Residency Match Service

Geographic location: Saskatoon, La Ronge

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