Mathew began his post-secondary career at The University of Western Ontario where he obtained an Honors Bachelor of Medical Sciences in Medical Biophysics. He then enrolled in graduate school at the University of Toronto, where he started as a Master’s Student but then reclassified to a Doctoral Candidate (Ph.D.) in Medical Biophysics.
Currently, Matthew is enrolled at McGill University (Canada’s top-ranked Medical School for over 20-years) in their Doctor of Medicine and Master of Surgery (M.D.,C.M.) program. He has maintained a first-class average throughout his entire post-secondary career and has received countless awards for academic excellence and leadership.
His most notable work experiences include medical imaging instructor at the University of Toronto and Research Assistant at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center. He has also acted as research supervisor for undergraduate researchers in Medical Biophysics.
Mathew has countless volunteering experiences that have shaped him for a career as a clinician-scientist. This includes being part of multiple international boards for the growth of underprivileged and underrepresented youth, and young professionals in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields.
He would like to incorporate the Luso-Canadian community in his clinical-scientific practice. This would include starting a Luso-Canadian youth pre-medical program. Mathew strongly believes that Portuguese-Canadians are underrepresented in science and that he can play an important role to change that.
Revista Amar: Mathew, tell us a little about yourself?
Mathew Carias: I am currently 30 years old and grew up in Mississauga. My parents immigrated to Canada by way of Montreal in the 1960’s. My mother is from Braga and father from Nazaré. I have a twin brother named Marc and an older sister named Erica. I currently study at McGill University in their Doctor of Medicine and Master of Surgery program.
RA: Do you have any connection with Portugal? And do you speak Portuguese?
MC: My parents were born and raised in Portugal and currently I have one living grandfather in Portugal. Eu falo português mas toda minha educação foi em inglês. I have been to Portugal several times throughout the summers in my childhood so I feel a strong connection to both Canada and Portugal.
RA: How old were you when you realized you wanted to be a doctor?
MC: I think every as every child grows up they consider a wide range of professions and I was no exception. Depending on what part of my childhood I always wanted to either be a lawyer, engineer (like my father), dentist, veterinarian or doctor. As I was applying to Universities for undergraduate degrees it became clear that I was interested in physics and medicine. So I decided to enter the Medical Biophysics program at The University of Western Ontario. It was there where I became interested medicine, research and teaching.
RA: Throughout your entire post-secondary career, you have always maintained a first-class average. Where you always a good student?
MC: Looking back at all my schooling I believe it was my parents who instilled the value of education into me. With that I was able to prioritize my education over many things in my life. That’s a difficult thing to do growing up since many children are more focused on short term rather than long term goals.
RA: What motivated you, after you graduate from the University of Western Toronto with Honors Bachelors of Medical Sciences (B.M. Sc.), to apply for a summer training course in the International Institute of Infection and Immunity and Shantou University Medical College in China?
MC: The summer training course in Shantou, China was an amazing experience and I am sincerely grateful that I was granted that opportunity. The reason I applied for that course was because I made a promise to myself that I was going to open my horizons and be open to new experiences. This included applying to courses that I may not have done in the past. I think from that moment on I was more open to include things in my life than exclude things.
RA: How important was or is this experience for your Medical career?
MC: The experience in China was very important since it was one of the first times I was exposed to a clinical environment. As an extracurricular component for the course we were exposed to surgeries and in/out-patient clinics as some of the affiliated hospital with Shantou University.
RA: You have a PH. D., but what is a Doctor of Philosophy in Medical Biophysics?
MC: A Doctor of Philosophy in Medical Biophysics is a graduate degree that is based on the pursuit of knowledge in a given field, Medical Biophysics, in my case, and more specifically, Medical Imaging. The Ph.D. degree is granted to individuals who advance knowledge in a wide range of fields (Arts, Science, Engineering, to name a few) and present their findings in the form of a thesis which is evaluated by a group of their peers. Specifically, in my Ph.D. I conducted research in MRI imaging and treatment techniques for cardiac disease. I decided to go to graduate school since I knew I wasn’t done learning, which is another reason I am currently back in school.
RA: Today you are again a student, this time at the McGill University in Montreal to graduate as a Doctor of Medicine and Master of Surgery. Is it time to put everything, that you have learned so far and all your knowledge, together to treat and help people after you graduate?
MC: I believe that the cumulation of my post-secondary education has prepared me for a life of not only treating patients but providing them with an expanded range of options to better fit their care to their own personal values.
RA: What will be your specialization?
MC: Currently I am open to all specialties and I am working on getting has many different clinical exposures as possible, so I can make an educated decision. In 2-years I’ll be applying to residency programs throughout Canada to further my education.
RA: What fascinates you more: research, teaching, practice or surgery?
MC: I think all physicians have interest in research, teaching, practice or surgery and luckily for me I have been exposed to these aspects of medicine. More specifically, CanMEDS is a framework that identifies and describes the abilities physicians require to effectively meet the health care needs of the people they serve. The CanMEDS Roles are: The Medical Expert (the integrating role), Communicator, Collaborator, Leader, Health Advocate, Scholar Professional. I believe I have an interest and skills in all these Physicianship components and in order to be an excellent physician one must actively display all these qualities when they are providing care to patients.
RA: In your Medical career, what would you like to achieve?
MC: My specific goal in medicine is to provide those with limited access to the forefront and technologically advanced healthcare modalities those options. There shouldn’t be any barriers to care and I believe I have the scientific expertise to aid those patients seeking specialized care.
RA: Do you intend to open your practice in the Portuguese community?
MC: I intend to open my practice where there is the most need related to my specific goal in medicine, granting access to advanced healthcare to those with limited access. With the help of Manuel DaCosta we are currently conducting epidemiological studies to evaluate if there is a healthcare a gap, if any, from within the Portuguese community. My hope is to identify if Luso-Canadians show an increased tendency to exhibit more co-morbid conditions and if they receive optimal care related to those conditions.
RA: You have already a considerable number of Distinctive Awards and Honors. Did each of them motivated you to pursuit for more knowledge in the Medical world?
MC: I think awards are nice to get but they aren’t the main motivation factor in the pursuit of knowledge. I think the most important thing that being granted a financial award does is that it relieves the pressure on the financial stress that comes with the pursuit of knowledge. Being able to focus on my studies and not how I will pay for tuition is extremely comforting.
RA: Do you think you will ever stop to “want to learn and know more”?
MC: I think my pursuit of knowledge with not stop since, at least in medicine, there is a constant requirement to stay up-to-date on all the most current data. This is a part of medicine that I love since the clinical decisions are always changing and are based on an ever-expanding library of medical information.
RA: Last March you were awarded with the Leadership Excellence Award by the Federation of Portuguese Canadian Business & Professionals (FPCBP), sponsored by Viana Roofing & Sheetmetal Ltd. How important is it to be recognized by the Portuguese community?
MC: Over the past several months with the help of Manuel DaCosta, it has been truly eye-opening seeing all the amazing things Luso-Canadians have done in Canada. I think now that I have started getting more involved in the community the Leadership Excellence Award means a lot more to me since I now feel I have the support of the entire Luso-Canadian Community.
RA: Your Award was handed by Manuel DaCosta, owner of Viana Roofing & Sheetmetal Ltd and a very successful entrepreneur, did he give you any advice? And are you still in touch with him?
MC: Yes, we are still in touch and we try to meet every time I am in Toronto. He has been an excellent mentor in the sense that he doesn’t offer direct advice but makes it up to me to interpret what he is saying and how it relates to me and my own experiences. We are starting several projects together, healthcare related, focusing on overall immigrant health.
RA: In your advocacy work with ‘Let’s Talk Science’ and the ‘The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ have led to the invaluable addition of underprivileged youth worldwide in the STEM fields. Why did you feel the need to support these causes?
MC: I believe access to education is a birth right given to every child born into this world. It is truly unfortunate that some children in this world are not granted access to education. As such, I try to do what I can so that every child is able to explore their own interests and thrive in all environments.
RA: Do you believe that volunteering experiences can change or shape a person’s character?
MC: Yes, if a person can, I believe that volunteering can help change and shape a person’s character. I think it comes down to what everyone prioritizes in terms of their time and effort.
RA: Between studying, working and volunteering. Do you still have time for a social life?
MC: I always enjoy being with my friends and travelling at any opportunity I can. Finding a work-life balance is essential in any career.
RA: What are your thoughts about the Portuguese community?
MC: The Portuguese community is a very strong resilient community. Everyone shares the same values.
RA: You strongly believe that Portuguese-Canadians are underrepresented in science and medicine. Why is that?
MC: Having 2-degrees and working on my third degree at the present time, I can say that on many occasions I have been the only Portuguese Canadian in most of my classes. Currently I am the only student of Portuguese descent in the McGill Doctor or Medicine and Master of Surgery class of 2022. So just from my own experiences I can see that there is a very low percentage of Portuguese students studying science and medicine. I really don’t know why that is. There are a lot of Portuguese lawyers and politicians and it just seems like the professional Portuguese physician is very rare, even within the Portuguese community.
RA: Education was always a problem in the Portuguese community, with young people leaving school to start working and make a living in early ages. Do you think this is already changing?
MC: I do believe that this is changing, and it is things like the Federation of Portuguese Canadian Business & Professionals (FPCBP) scholarships that are driving this transition. Just reflecting on my own family, I can see that many of them now are attending post-secondary education where in previous years they would just enter the workforce.
RA: As a successful Luso-Canadian that pursued his dreams, what kind of advice would you give to younger generations?
MC: Be resilient and open to different ways to achieve your goals. Everything will not work out the way you plan it the first time. Be resilient, change your path but keep the end goal the same.
RA: Do you think that the Portuguese community can, in the future, play a major role in the Canadian society? What would be the biggest challenges to achieve this?
MC: I think that the Portuguese community is already playing a major role in Canadian society.
Revista Amar would like to thank Mathew Carias for this inspiring interview, wishing him success in all future endeavors.