The change-up: Powerful medicine

Peter B. Gustavson School of Business


Stuart Hartsook (BCom ’06) switched from banking after feeling a pull to become a physician

Name: Stuart Hartsook

Age: 35

Hometown: I grew up in the sunny Okanagan valley town of Peachland, but moved to Victoria in 2002 to attend UVic and have lived here ever since.

UVic degree and year: Bachelor of Commerce, 2006, specializing in international business.

What I used to be: A banker and an assistant bank-branch manager.

Then I had the idea to: Do something completely different, take a complete career 180 and chase the dream of becoming a medical doctor.

Why I did it: From the very start of my professional life I felt like making a difference and having an impact on people was important. At a certain point, I felt banking could no longer provide this. For me, medicine was the perfect confluence of meaning, intellectual challenge and a new adventure into the unknown.

How I did it: While I had been thinking about making a major change for a while, one day I just took the plunge. I came home and told my wife I was leaving my job, exiting the banking industry and applying to medicine. I searched out and read all the books I could about medical education. I scoured the Internet for information on applying to medical schools. I leveraged everyone in my network connected to medicine for advice. And then I set to work studying. I left my comfort zone and returned to UVic to do two years of science education, including biology, chemistry, biochemistry, organic chemistry and physics. I studied for months on end for the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). And then I applied to UBC Medicine and crossed my fingers—and the rest is history. Now, over six years later, I am a medical doctor and halfway through the first of five years of a psychiatry residency.

What I love about my new life: Patients. The opportunity to make a fundamental, meaningful and lasting difference in someone’s life. The excitement and variety of medicine. The constant journey of lifelong learning. And of course, my colleagues and fellow physician trainees—I can’t say enough about them. I have worked with nurses, PhDs, social workers, ballet dancers, engineers, soldiers, naturopaths, scientists and so many other fascinating and caring individuals who have also felt the calling to make a life change into medicine.

What I miss about my old life: Predictability, nine-to-five hours, long vacations and, of course, all of my old co-workers.

Just because you may feel pigeon-holed into one career area, never underestimate the transferability of your skills. The communication and team skills I honed in my commerce degree have served me very well in medicine.
Stuart Hartsook, UVic alumnus (BCom '06)

One person who helped me: My wife Rachel Hartsook (BA ’05, BEd ’07), no question about it. She supported me financially and emotionally and was encouraging from Day One—regardless of how crazy my initial plan seemed.

One trade secret: Spend time working on aspects of yourself, including focusing on mind, body, and spirit before you can effectively help others. Self-care is the foundation of good medicine.

You can find me: At either one of the hospitals in Victoria, completing a variety of rotations in my first year of residency, including internal medicine, pediatrics, emergency medicine, neurology and a number of psychiatry electives.


In this story

Keywords: alumni

People: Stuart Hartsook

Publication: The Torch

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