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Laurent Duvernay-Tardif on Finishing Med School: "It's been a great journey"

Chiefs Guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif

Q: What is it like to have the title that you have worked for? Can you even put it into words?

DUVERNAY-TARDIF: “Two days ago I was a little bit emotional. It was such a great feeling to be back home with family and friends and get that M.D. that I was waiting for for the past four years. When I got drafted in 2014 it was a promise that I made to myself that I was going to keep grinding and keep pushing to combine my two passions at the highest level and show people it was possible. With the help of Coach Reid and the Faculty of Medicine from McGill, it was possible to do it. Combing both, leaving after the season and going straight back to Montreal and medicine, doing clinical rounds and seeing patients and then coming back for OTAs. It’s been a great journey for the past four years and I’m glad it’s over.”

Q: What kind of doctor are you?

DUVERNAY-TARDIF: “Right now I’m a doctor. Eventually I’ll try to be an emergency physician. That’s the field I want to do. That’s another five years of training though so we’ll see how that goes.”

Q: Will you have M.D. on your jersey?

DUVERNAY-TARDIF: “We’re working on it. I made a request to league and we’ll see what they’re going to say. The rules are the rules and I’m okay with that. So we’ll see how that’s going to evolve.”

Q: How are you going to spend your offseasons now since you were studying for the last four years?

DUVERNAY-TARDIF: “To be honest I don’t know. I think it’s going to be really nice to take a deep breath and be like alright, now I can enjoy the offseason and focus on training and focus on family, friends and just enjoying it a little bit.”

Q: Mitch Morse told a story about you studying all 11 hours on the plane. How much is that indicative of what you’ve had to do these last couple of years?

DUVERNAY-TARDIF: “For the most part I’ve tried to focus only on football during the football season for the past four years. But in 2015 when we played in London I actually put an orthopedic exam during the bye week, which was right after the London game. So on the way back even though we won, everyone was pretty pumped, but I had to study a little bit because the exam was on Wednesday. So that was kind of the quickest transition I had to do over the past four years and I totally regret it. I think it was a big struggle.”

Q: But you aced the test anyway right?

DUVERNAY-TARDIF: “Yeah, I did great and I think none of that would have been possible if I wasn’t good at picking up med school stuff. So it went well.”

Q: What will you remember most and cherish about your experience on Tuesday?

DUVERNAY-TARDIF: “I think for me on Tuesday it was kind of a resume or a summary of the past eight years. I started medical school in 2011 and then I got drafted in 2014 and at that point it was kind of a question of ‘should I continue medical school now that I have football?’ When I signed my extension last year I asked myself the same question, and at the end of the day I love medicine and I love football, so why not do both? Even though it was kind of hard, it was always that picture of me graduating and getting my M.D. that I had in mind. That’s helped me push through the tough part going to train at 9 p.m. because you just finished a shift in the emergency department and stuff like that. All of those sacrifices paid off and it was always that vision of me walking on the stage and getting that M.D. that helped me through that.”

Q: Is your gut feeling that you’ll wait until you’re done with football completely before you continue to pursue medicine?

DUVERNAY-TARDIF: “We’ll see. I’m giving myself a year to weigh all of the options because it’s not common for people to do part-time residencies. The same way it’s not common to do part-time medical school. So we’ll see how it’s going to play out. I already started reaching out to different faculties and we’ll see. Honestly I don’t know the answer right now.”

Q: Why emergency medicine?

DUVERNAY-TARDIF: “I think there are a lot of similarities between football and emergency medicine. You never really know in the emergency (room) what’s going to step through the door. You have to be able to make rational decisions in a really stressful environment and take your emotion out of it. There’s a lot of similarity between that and trying to block a different pressure on a third down and you have to do it to convert. So that’s why I like it. I think that adrenaline rush, there’s a lot of similarities between emergency and football.”

Q: For future players who might try this what advice would you give them?

DUVERNAY-TARDIF: “You have to love both if you want to succeed because it was kind of hard and also you have to pick a good team. I remember back in 2014 I was doing all of my pre-draft visits and for a lot of coaches, medicine was a question mark. Like ‘how do we know if you really want to play football if you have medicine?’ And I think for Coach Reid it was the total opposite. It was like ‘if you’re here and you still have medicine as a plan B it’s because you really love to play football and I’m going to help you to the best of my ability.’ That’s what he’s been doing for the past four years. Every season at the end of the season during our exit meeting he’s been asking me ‘what’s next for you doc?’ and we’ve been talking about different clinical rotations and stuff. And his mother actually went to McGill University and was one of the first women to graduate in medicine, so there was a little bit of a connection and I really think that he helped me through the process. I don’t think it would have been possible if it was not for him. So thanks Coach Reid for that.”

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