Money Matters: Q & A with Dan Torbiak, financial consultant

Caricature of Dan Torbiak created by graphic artist Lianne Sabourin.

Borrowing money is a reality for many students, a reality that comes with pressure and uneasiness for young people who have never taken a large loan before.

According to Dan Torbiak, financial consultant with the Max Rady College of Medicine, this uneasiness can cause students to feel like their future is in jeopardy, but once they understand how easy it is to make a repayment plan, they invariably feel much better.

Torbiak, who teaches financial literacy at the U of M, has been advising medical students at the college since 2015. He offers curriculum sessions to students that look at what their current and following years look like from a financial standpoint, how to estimate costs, calculate debts, file tax returns and form good financial habits.

What drew you to the role?

I had financial challenges myself, including ‘retail therapy’ issues. I figured out solutions. I hope I can help students find solutions. Also, I am happy to give back  the Rady College of Medicine is alma mater to one of my daughters and both of my siblings. I also get a kick out of problem solving and seeing people lose their stress.

What did you do before that?

Before retiring, I was a partner in an international CPA firm, a tax specialist. I taught Tax at the Asper School. I currently teach Corporate Tax at Robson Hall Law School. My clients and students told me I am good at explaining complicated things. I try to help med students likewise.

Do you find that students generally understand their financial situation?

They understand more than they think. Doing the math is not a problem – med students are scientists, after all. But putting a dollar-sign in front of numbers can make numbers more daunting, unnecessarily. Students and I talk about how to make numbers work for them – how they can achieve life goals beyond repaying student loans. Things like home ownership, family leaves, premium travel and financial independence.

How often do you present the curriculum sessions?

Once or twice per academic year, for students of each year. Twice for incoming Med 1s, including a session to which family members are invited, which takes place every Wellness Week. I’d like to be in front of students more often, but they have very full schedules.

What debt management or budgeting strategies would you like to share?

I encourage students to get excited about planning. Done well, planning does not constrain us; it helps us get what we want. Once a plan is done, I don’t have secret ways about how to stick to it – students need to find a life-skill way that works for them. Some students use cash for certain types of purchases (so do I); others find a helpful app.

Do you have a message for students that might be unsure about speaking to a financial advisor?

Spending an hour with me might help them relax more than a yoga class.

Contact Dan at 204- 291-3553 or


Shadow experiences for students

We encourage students in the pre-clerkship years to take the opportunity to engage in shadow experiences. These are important to demonstrate a snapshot of life in a particular specialty, to help develop a sense of whether that specialty might be a good fit and a chance to ask questions.

Shadows are usually for a half day. Given the pre-clerkship schedule they can occur without missing any mandatory academic sessions.

Do not be afraid to reach out to your network. We encourage students to talk with instructors/preceptors after academic sessions to request a shadow. There is also a list of contacts for core specialties on the Student Affairs website. We are available to assist in planning and prioritizing shadow experiences that might be the best fit for you. Contact to request an appointment.

Postl Notes: Successes since last accreditation

In his latest blog post, Dr. Brian Postl, dean of the Max Rady College of Medicine and Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, discussed some of the college’s highlights ahead of the Undergraduate Medical Education (UGME) accreditation site visit on April 28-May 1. Click to read more.

Med 2 Wellness Fair

April 12, 2019
9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Theatre C, Basic Medical Sciences Building and Apotex Centre

Dr. Tanya Sala (pictured), director of Student Mental Health Service, will talk about mental illness, including depression and suicidal ideation, in medical trainees, residents and practicing physicians and how to manage the stresses of medical training to reduce the modifiable risks.

There will be a one-hour built-in career session. Jim McLaren and Maria Dielmann will bring students to consider non-cognitive components that will go into choosing an area of practice. Students will also have some time to continue working on their CV.

Similar to Med 1 Wellness fair, Med 2 students will also have the opportunity to take part in fun activities such as fitness sessions, Indigenous beading workshop, nutrition workshop, meditation, and board games.

UGME Accreditation 2019 Town Hall

Thursday, April 18
11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Frederic Gaspard Theatre, Basic Medical Sciences Building

Dean Brian Postl will host a Town Hall with medical students regarding UGME Accreditation, taking place April 28-May 1, 2019. The Town Hall will provide an overview of the accreditation survey process, key initiatives implemented over the last several years and answer any questions.

Click for details.

Study Break

Remember to take a break from studying to enjoy the spring season. Here are some fun activities happening around town over the next few weeks.

Art in Bloom
April 11 – 14, 2019
Winnipeg Art Gallery

Every second year, the Winnipeg Art Gallery has a lush exhibit of floral designs and the art that inspires them. Click for details.

Body Worlds: Animal Inside Out
April 17 – September 2, 2019
Manitoba Museum

Body Worlds: Animal Inside Out presents the fascinating and rare opportunity to see what’s under the skin of more than 100 animal specimens. Click for details.