A New Year in Medicine at McGill

August 2011

“It surpassed our wildest dreams.” Auspicious words to mark the start of a new academic year. Assistant Dean of Admissions, Dr. Saleem Razack, was referring to the unprecedented surge in applications to McGill’s medical program in 2011. Every member of the Class of 2015, a cohort of 184, can be proud of earning a place for which a record-breaking 2,538 candidates competed.

The Faculty of Medicine continues to benefit from changes implemented by the Admissions office over the past few years. Razack is proud of the success of the new non-traditional pathway that the Faculty now offers. Under this initiative, three places in the MDCM program are open to students who have been away from post-secondary studies for three years or more. The goal is to further increase the diversity of McGill’s medical cohort and to encourage applicants who might be interested in pursuing careers in family medicine.

“When we created it I thought maybe we’d get 20 applicants,” said Razack. But his expectations were easily exceeded in 2011. There were approximately 120 applicants for the three places. “When it’s competitive you get many more high quality applicants,” Razack observed.

Razack also attributed the increase in applicants to the Faculty’s elimination of the MCAT exams, which are unavailable in French, as a requirement for admission. He felt the timing was right for such a change because the Faculty had developed such strong alternatives for evaluation, in particular, the Multiple Mini Interviews, a comprehensive series of task-oriented, scenario-oriented and discussion-oriented tasks designed to test the skills that form the basis of the Faculty’s physicianship curriculum.

Ongoing Success in Family Medicine

The start of the new academic year also bears witness to the increasing popularity of one specialty in particular – family medicine. Miriam Boillat, MDCM’83, Associate Dean of Faculty Development and Interim Chair of the Department of Family Medicine, provides details on the continuing upward trend at McGill. “The percentage of graduating McGill medical students who choose a residency in family medicine continues to rise, from a low of 23% in 2007 and reaching 31% in 2011.”

Moreover, the McGill affiliated hospitals are having increasing success in filling their family medicine residency positions. The results of CaRMS (Canadian Residency Matching Service) are that all but three of 80 positions were filled. These impressive figures are due to several important initiatives that have been gathering steam recently.

In 2011, the Department of Family Medicine has increased the exposure of students to family medicine early during medical school through greater involvement of family doctors in teaching. An expanded “longitudinal” family medicine program (bringing students to family physicians’ offices) and an eight-week rotation in family medicine that includes four weeks in a rural site also gives students a chance to experience family medicine under different conditions.

The Faculty of Medicine continues to expand its service reach and exposure to family medicine at its newest medicine units, one in Val D’Or and one in Châteauguay. Finally, a two-year thesis-based Master’s program in family medicine research was developed, as well as the “Clinician Scholar Program,” a third-year Enhanced Skills Program, which provides research training opportunities for family medicine residents.

Dr. Boillat believes that in 2012 the revised curriculum for undergraduate medical education will contribute to continued success in recruiting to family medicine. “It includes regular longitudinal exposure for all medical students to family physicians in an office setting over many months,” she explains, “starting in the very first month of medical school.”

A Snapshot of the Class of 2015
Residents of Quebec (University): 89
Residents of Quebec (non-traditional pathways): 3
Residents of Quebec (CÉGEP): 77
Out of province: 9
International/United States: 5
Special (Nunavut): 1

Total: 184

Applications: 2,538 this year, 1688 in 2010; an increase of 50.3%

[Laurence Miall and Ryan-Catherine Breithaupt]

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.