All Posts Tagged With: "medical school"
Pizza Hut perfume, Movember & news for future doctors
1. It was a marketing stunt and it worked. Pizza Hut Canada has given away a pizza perfume to 100 lucky Canadians. Thousands more are giving the scent their Facebook thumbs up while other are Tweeting about it. The Globe and Mail reports that the original cheesy version of the spritz didn’t smell good, so the final product is more like “fresh dough with a bit of spice.” I can’t tell if this is really big news or if it’s just close to lunchtime.
2. For the second year in a row, more money was raised from Canadians than from of people in all the countries that participated in Movember. The total was $36.8 million from 247,066 mustache-growing Canucks. That money goes to Prostate Cancer Canada and Canadian Male Health Network.
3. A man in Manhattan died after he was pushed onto a subway platform and hit by an oncoming train. Ki Suk Han, 58, desperately tried to scramble back to the platform and the New York Post published a photograph of his struggle. The attacker, who had been yelling loudly, fled.
A fake medical student, a fake gun & Dalton McGuinty
1. After nine years as premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty stepped down last night and prorogued the legislature. By 9 p.m., the newspapers had stories suggesting he’ll run for the federal Liberals against Justin Trudeau. Paul Wells writes that he would be astonished by that. “But then, McGuinty has already astonished me once tonight,” he adds. Wells explores the Teflon Premier’s legacy and examines a (possibly) telling recent speech.
2. A man rejected from medical school at New Zealand’s Auckland University decided to go anyway. He spent two years attending classes, labs, and hospital placements and was only caught when a classmate put his name on a group assignment.
3. A 28-year-old woman who was walking to the University of Windsor Monday was told by a man carrying a fake gun to hand over a computer bag. The woman described the gun as “two sticks taped together.” The University of Windsor Campus Police arrested and charged a 21-year-old.
Tuition & fees at 17 Canadian schools
Gaining acceptance to medical school is the first hurdle. The next challenge is paying
for it. The figures listed below show first-year tuition for the academic year 2012-2013.
Two tuition figures are listed for schools in Quebec: the first applies for residents of Quebec; the higher figure is charged for students from outside the province. *Tuition for residents of Quebec or New Brunswick. Sources: Office of Research and Information Services, Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada. This graphic originally appeared in the Maclean’s Professional Schools issue.
Moving may boost the odds of medical school admission
From the 2012 Maclean’s Professional Schools Issue, on newsstands and iPad now.
It has been a long road for 33-year-old Kyla Adams from her high school years—when there was no question in her mind that she’d one day become a physician—to today, when the British Columbia native feels she finally has a decent shot at medical school.
In Adams’s second year of university, the academic and social stresses of life at the University of British Columbia caught up with her and she flunked out of school, temporarily shelving her ambition. After several years of selling running shoes, travelling and working as a personal trainer, Adams wrote the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) at the age of 26. She surprised herself with a decent score, which inspired her to enrol at the University of Victoria, where she earned a double degree in biology and earth sciences. She rewrote the MCAT, boosted her score and applied to medical school.
But the rules had changed. She was no longer allowed to drop those crummy decade-old marks from her application as she had thought. She applied to UBC’s medical school and didn’t get in. She applied again, and was rejected again. She applied a third time. No luck.
Slim chance of residency upon return
Students considering medicine may want to avoid studying overseas, Dr. Dave Snadden, executive associate dean of medicine at the University of British Columbia, tells the Vancouver Sun.
“They need to know how much more severe that competition is if they go abroad and want to apply for residency positions here upon graduation,” he says, referring to the thousands of Canadian students who go to medical schools in places like Ireland, England, Australia and the Caribbean, usually after failing to secure spots in Canada.
Good news for arts majors interested in medicine
Students planning on applying to medical school might want to take some sociology and psychology courses along with their organic chemistry.
A new and improved Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is on the way, with changes to better assess whether applicants are “well-rounded.”
The biggest changes are coming in 2015 when a new section will be introduced that tests behavioural and social sciences principles.
The MCAT is supposed to serve as a ‘litmus test’ to show which applicants have the most potential as physicians. Considering it was originally introduced in 1928 and last revised in 1991, many believe that an update is overdue.
Dr. Darrell Kirch, president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), says that the future will require a “different kind of physician,” who is more “culturally competent.”
It may be possible at Queen’s in 2013
Queen’s University may soon allow gifted high school graduates to enroll in a six-year program that would offer them a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree by the time they turn 24-years old.
The Accelerated Pathway to Medical School program received faculty approval on May 4 and will be considered at Queen’s Senate in the fall.
The length of medical school has long been debated. In English Canada, students must complete three or four years of undergraduate education before applying to four-year medical programs.
Fierce competition means that most students who get into MD programs already have four-year degrees. Indeed, many have master’s degrees, which take one or two years more to complete.
Discussions with minister & medical school were private
A top doctor in British Columbia did not abuse his position when he spoke to a cabinet minister and two medical school officials about his son’s rejected medical school applications, the Vancouver Island Health Authority’s board has found. The province agrees the conversations were “private.”
Health Minister Mike de Jong ordered the VIHA’s board to look into the matter after accusations surfaced earlier this year that president Howard Waldner had abused his authority by contacting cabinet minister Ida Chong, University of British Columbia medical dean Gavin Stuart and UBC provost Dave Farrar about the provincial residency requirements that had disqualified his son.
De Jong told the Times-Colonist that he “bows his head” to the findings, but added: “People who occupy high office and very responsible positions have to be very careful how they conduct themselves and interact with agencies over whom others may see them as having influence.”
Multiple Mini Interview criticized (and defended)
Medical school applicants at the University of British Columbia will no longer take part in a block-building exercise, reports the Vancouver Sun.
But the other exercises that make-up the school’s Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) process are here to stay, according to Dr. Joseph Finkler, associate dean of admissions at UBC.
The news comes after Dr. Brian Day, former head of the Canadian Medical Association, wrote an editorial in the B.C. Medical Journal, calling the MMI process “contrived, artificial, and bizarre.”
The MMI, now the norm in Canada, requires that applicants move through several different stations to be assessed by interviewers who attempt to discern motivation, social concern, creativity, maturity, integrity, empathy and more.
New program shows less-wealthy kids a path to medicine
Ridge Cross-McComber is about as blasé as your average overachiever when it comes to his laundry list of goals for the next few years and beyond. He’ll finish his year at Montreal’s Dawson College, move to Vanier College for either nursing or pure and applied science, then go to medical school to become a surgeon. After that, he’ll practise medicine in Kahnawake, his hometown. “I want to be a role model for my community,” says the 17-year-old, sitting in a café in the native reserve near Montreal. “It’s something I want to do for my town and my people. I want to show that I can do this.”
As far as medical school goes, history and statistics are stacked against Cross-McComber. Wealthy students tend to be overrepresented in the field, for one. According to a study by the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada, nearly 45 per cent of medical students come from families making over $100,000 a year. (Only about 26 per cent of Canadian families are in this demographic, according to the AFMC study.) And while medical schools are decidedly less uniformly Caucasian than they used to be, the AFMC study indicates that many visible minorites continue to be under-represented.
From the 2011 Maclean’s Professional Schools Rankings
Roughly three-quarters of medical school applicants are rejected each year. Bummer. Luckily for them, wannabe doctors have better alternatives than ever. These four professional health care programs can be completed in just a few years, are in high demand, and pay well directly out of school. That means graduates can start paying off their student loans while medical residents are still driving beat-up old cars to 24-hour shifts.
Health Care Manager
The Job: Health care managers work in hospitals, medical clinics and nursing homes where they direct teams of health care providers. Their job is to make sure patients get excellent care and, simultaneously, that Canadians get good value for the nearly $200 billion they spend on health care each year.
New program combines undergraduate and medical school
Imagine if there were a way to train doctors more efficiently, effectively, and at a lower cost, increasing the number of primary care providers while decreasing the amount of debt that students face. In other words, imagine a system that benefits patients, doctors, and the health care system.
Officials at the University of Texas (UT) believe they can do just that.
A new program pitched for 2013 will reduce the number of years that are required for students to earn a bachelor’s degree and a medical degree by spreading medical education across seven years, instead of putting most of it in a four year program that follows a BSc. The class would start with 60 freshman who are guaranteed a spot in med school if they do well in the first three years.
There may be fewer electives than a normal science degree, but there will still be some flexibility built into the program, including an entire year to “explore an area of interest” such as public health or medical research.
“Medical education, in general, takes too long, costs too much, it’s redundant, and it also doesn’t necessarily prepare people for practice in the 21st century,” Dr. Kenneth Shine, the UT’s executive vice chancellor for health affairs explained to The Austin American-Statesman. Other UT campuses are planning to try a similar model for nursing and pharmacy students.
The idea of reducing the time it takes to graduate from medical school isn’t exactly new, but it’s not very common. At least one three-year medical program can be found here in Canada. McMaster operates on an 11 months-a-year basis that allows students to qualify for the MD degree at the end of the third academic year. So do roughly 15 per cent of American schools. But the idea of combining undergraduate and graduate has so far been limited to places like Australia and Ireland. This may be a North American first.
Considering that it takes at least eight years between high school and medical residency, there’s another potential benefit to shortened programs for both patients and taxpayers. If doctors enter the workforce a year earlier and stay working a year longer, it would make life easier for the roughly 2-million Canadians who want a family doctor but can’t find one.
Woman joins elite group of doctors
Alberta’s 50-year-old neurosurgery program has it’s first female alumnus. Dr. Jenny Souster has completed her seven year residency with the University of Alberta. ”The neurosurgery program has been here (at U of A) for 50 years and they’ve had a few women enter the program, but they didn’t make it through to the end, so I’m the first one to actually finish,” Souster told the Calgary Herald. Neurosurgery, which mends brains and spinal cords, is one of the most difficult specialties to learn. There are only 270 fellows of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada who are listed as neurosurgeons today. Most of them are men.
Hint: it’s not chemistry.
Ever since I started studying for the MCAT, I’ve been worried about the physics section.
Apparently it’s just an irrational fear. Whenever I’ve brought it up here in my blog, most commenters have assured me that the physics questions are so basic, Forrest Gump could answer them all correctly and have enough time left over to start narrating his life story to the person sitting next to him. Which, of course, is why everyone who writes the test gets a perfect score on the physics section.
It turns out I might have been worrying about the wrong section. Apparently the lowest-scored section on the MCAT isn’t the physical sciences. Or biological sciences. It’s the verbal reasoning section.
According to this chart from the AAMC, verbal reasoning had the lowest mean score among test takers in 2010. The physical sciences, which consists of general chemistry and physics questions, had a mean score of 8.3. The verbal reasoning section had a mean score of 7.9 (this is on a 15 point scale). And Examkrackers claims that the average score on verbal reasoning is a 61 per cent.
For some reason I always thought that verbal reasoning was the section that most people could expect to score decently on. Perhaps it’s because, unlike the physical or biological sciences, there isn’t any specific background knowledge required.
But after looking at some practice problems, I think I’ve realized why it’s the toughest section. Most of the questions were apparently designed by Confucius, with some editorial input by Yoda and Master Po.
1. According to the passage, an image is a versatile tool that:
A) is always visual, never abstract.
B) can be either abstract or visual.
C) is always abstract, never visual.
D) is neither visual nor abstract.
That leaves me with a new hobby for this summer. Instead of whining about physics, like I’ve been doing for the past couple months, I plan to whine about verbal reasoning instead.
School says dropping MCAT was successful
The number of applicants to McGill’s medical program 50 per cent higher this year and officials are attributing that growth to the fact that they dropped the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) requirement. The number of students vying for the program’s 183 spots rose from 1,689 last year to 2,538 this year. Only 500 will be interviewed.
“It was successful beyond our wildest dreams,” Dr. Saleem Razack, assistant dean of admissions, equity and diversity at McGill told the Montreal Gazette, referring to the decision to drop the test that most English-Canadian medical schools and nearly all American medical schools require. “The MCAT is seen as a barrier — it is expensive to write and we find our new multiple mini interviews have a great ability to predict the future performance (of applicants).” It’s especially problematic for francophone students, he says, as there is no French-language MCAT test.
Dr. Maureen Shandling, former associate dean of admissions at the faculty of medicine at the University of Toronto told the newspaper she doesn’t believe that multiple mini interviews can replace the MCAT entirely. Instead, she says multiple mini interviews should be “complementary.”
Unless the patient is on a train, physics doesn’t help
I forgot how much I hate physics.
If studying for the MCAT only included biology, chemistry, and verbal reasoning, I might have a serious shot. But throwing physics into the mix has me worried.
Way back in first year, almost three years ago, I thought I was saying goodbye to physics. Forever. After writing my exam, I would never have to see its face again. No more calculating the distance traveled by a projectile. Or determining how long it takes a soccer ball thrown from a height of 80 metres with an initial velocity of 10 metres per second to reach the ground. As for those two trains —the ones that are speeding towards each other, with hundreds of hypothetical passengers’ lives at stake — who cares what their final speed is, or how long it takes them to collide? Not me.
At least, I didn’t care until this summer. Now that I’m studying for the MCAT, physics has returned from the past — like a bad guy in an action movie who I thought was dead, but instead of shooting him a second time (just to be sure), I turned my back and didn’t notice the ominous music.
The problem is that the last time we saw each other, it didn’t end very well. Every time I tried to patch things up, physics would bring up the centrifugal force. Now, I’m asking myself: why is physics even tested on the MCAT?
Biology makes sense. Mostly. Some of the specifics seem a little irrelevant, like the details of cellular metabolism, but hey, med school is all about biology, right? And as much as I hate chemistry, I grudgingly accept the fact that it has a place in med school, too. Sure, I’d like to lie to myself and claim that chemistry has no real-world applications in medicine. But then I’d have to ignore the existence of pharmaceuticals (even the boring sections in my organic chemistry textbook are important for future doctors).
But for some reason, back when the MCAT was being created, someone stupidly invited physics to the party. I just don’t see how physics can help a doctor treat their patients. Unless the patient is a passenger on a train. A train that is heading south at a velocity of 80 kilometers per hour, on the same tracks as a train that is heading north at a velocity of 72 kilometers per hour…
Could the ruling have implications across the country?
Quebec hospitals will have six months to reduce 24-hour medical resident shifts to a maximum of 16 hours, ruled an arbitrator in a grievance case led by the Fédération médecins résidents du Québec against the McGill University Health Centre yesterday. Arbitrator Jean-Pierre Lussier agreed with the argument put forward by former McGill employee Dr. Alain Bestawros that hospitals are violating the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by failing to protect their employees’ health. Their evidence was that medical residents are 2.3 times more likely to crash their vehicles after working 24-hour shifts. In addition, they argued that patients’ rights are violated by the fact that doctors make more more errors when they’re tired from day-long shifts. “We know it is dangerous for patients and residents,” Dr. Charles Dussault, president of the Fédération médecins résidents du Québec told the Montreal Gazette, who also said he is pleased by the ruling. Because the decision was based a Charter principle, Dr. Bestawros hopes it sets a precedent for other provinces.
A solution to Canada’s doctor shortage?
Could Canada’s health care crisis be solved by making medical school free?
An article in the New York Times argues that huge debts are part of the reason why many doctors pursue highly paid specialties rather than primary care. In other words, the high cost of med school is funneling new doctors away from the places we need them most—namely, as general practitioners.
According to the article, in addition to shifting more doctors into primary care, making medical school free would also attract more college graduates who are discouraged by the huge costs.
The article notes that there have been other attempts to shift doctors towards primary care. Here in Canada, Manitoba medical students can have their tuition fully paid if they agree to work in areas-in-need. It’s part of a strategy to help every Manitoban find a family doctor by 2015.
Of course, the article is focused on American medical schools, which charge more (and sometimes significantly more) tuition than their Canadian counterparts. On average, it’s $38,000 per year in the States for med school, while here in Canada it’s closer to $15,000. But it’s still an interesting idea.
What you need to know about MD-PhD programs
Thousands of students apply to medical school across Canada every year, and the vast majority of them will never even make it to an interview. The chances of success improve for repeat applicants, but the fact remains: even with high marks and stellar extracurricular activities, applying to a Canadian med school is an uphill battle against discouraging statistics. After completing their undergraduate degree and receiving a rejection letter, the big question facing these students is: now what?
Mike Saccone, a fourth-year Health Studies Co-op student, already has a plan B.
“My back-up plan is research based. I will pursue a Masters in Health Research Methodology from McMaster University,” he says. The Masters degree could even hit two birds with one stone.
“Hopefully, this will improve the chances of me getting into medical school, along with fulfilling a degree requirement that I will eventually pursue.”
Saccone says he was exposed to both sides of medicine- research and patient care- while working with a research-focused orthopaedic surgeon, and then working with a surgeon whose primary focus was on patient care.
Colleen Shortt, a fourth year Health Studies and Gerontology student, isn’t considering research as a backup plan to med school. She recently applied to graduate school programs at the University of Toronto, the University of Western Ontario, and McMaster, and is hoping to pursue a career in cancer or HIV/AIDS research. Shortt says that once she’s through grad school she may be interested in applying to med school.
“I thought about applying to med school and originally it was my plan A. But once I started looking into research opportunities I found that this may be a more effective way of reaching more people.”
Khuram Bhatti, a fourth year arts and science student, says he has considered numerous programs and careers, including optometry or pharmacy, and even programs in the States.
“I am considering schools such as the osteopathy programs in the United States, or other types of up and coming schools which have a schooling regiment which is sort of ‘newer,’ comparatively to something such as the MD career field.”
For med school hopefuls who don’t make the cut, pursuing a grad school program is a win-win: it improves their chances on a second application, and at the same time, they’re developing the skills for a different career path. Many med schools look for research or medically-related experience, and some even award additional points to applicants who have completed a graduate degree. McMaster gives an additional 1% to the pre-interview score of MSc students, and an additional 4% for PhD students. Others, such as the University of Toronto, lower the GPA cutoff for graduate students.
Keith Colaco, a third year Biomedical Sciences student, says that although he has always wanted to attend med school and become a physician, in high school he considered becoming an optometrist because of the challenges of pursuing a career in medicine.
“As I started taking more medically-related courses in university, volunteering in hospitals and speaking to medical students, I quickly changed my mind because I was so intrigued by the field and strongly felt the need to help those with medical problems.”
This summer Colaco will be working at the Holland Orthopaedic and Arthritic Centre in Toronto, where he hopes to gain insight into pursuing a medical career. Ultimately, he may combine his passion for medicine and research.
“I am very interested in clinical research rather than focusing on just research in the lab because I have always enjoyed interacting with patients in past volunteer experiences,” he says. “By working in a patient-care setting, it allows me to evaluate patients and conduct research at their bedside.”
Students like Colaco, who want to combine research with patient interaction, are in luck: an MD-PhD program offers the best of both worlds, allowing students to complete the MD curriculum while pursuing a PhD, training them for careers ranging from medical research to the design of healthcare delivery systems. Most of the programs describe their graduates as ‘clinician-scientists,’ with the curriculum juggling between academic course work, training in basic sciences and research, and clinical rotation. Dr. Norman Rosenblum, Director of the MD/PhD Program at the University of Toronto, says that applicants should have “considerable background with some area of science” in addition to experience that “demonstrates an interest in medicine and a knowledge of the clinician-scientist role.”
Some programs, such as the “MD Plus” Leaders in Medicine program at the University of Calgary, go beyond the basic sciences and allow students to pursue any graduate-level field of interest, including a Masters in philosophy or business.
Most med schools across Canada offer the MD-PhD program, with many being created in the past several years. The only drawback? Getting in is even tougher than med school. The program requires students to be accepted into both a medical and a Masters program (or in some cases, a graduate program) and enrollment is extremely limited, with most MD-PhD programs only having enough spots for a handful of students. For example, there are only five spots available in the University of Toronto MD-PhD program, while the University of Ottawa program only has room for four.
University of Ottawa tops the list
1. University of Ottawa 97.2
2. Memorial University 96.8
3. Dalhousie University 95.5
4. McMaster University 94.8
5. McGill University 94.6
6. University of British Columbia 94
7. University of Toronto 93.4
8. University of Western Ontario 93.4
9. University of Alberta 92.7
10. Northern Ontario Medical School 91.5
11. Université de Montreal 90.9
12. University of Manitoba 90.2
13. University of Calgary 90.2
14. Université Laval 89.5
15. International Schools 88.9.
16. Université de Sherbrooke 87.3
17. University of Saskatchewan 85.7
18. Queen’s University. 84.9