All Posts Tagged With: "Northern Ontario School of Medicine"
Medical schools address conflict-of-interest
When Toronto family doctor Navindra Persaud was studying medicine at the University of Toronto in 2004, he took a week-long course on how to treat patients suffering from chronic pain. But something was missing from the lessons.
While there was a growing body of evidence about the risks—addiction, overdose, death—related to opioids such as OxyContin, the negative effects were minimized. Instead, students learned about “strong, consistent” research to support prescribing the drugs to patients with chronic pain unrelated to cancer. Persaud says he and his peers left the lectures with an “incomplete and partially inaccurate” picture of how to treat patients.
At the time, he didn’t think there was anything wrong with the classes. Now he knows the lecturer had been previously paid to speak about pain management on behalf of Purdue Pharma LP, the makers of OxyContin. And the free textbook handed out to students? It was published by the drug company, as well. Just three years later, in 2007, Purdue paid more than $600 million, one of the biggest drug settlements in U.S. history, to resolve criminal charges and civil liabilities for misleading health care professionals about OxyContin’s addictive properties.
iPads: coming soon to a school (or zoo) near you
All incoming first-years enrolled in full-time post-secondary programs at Collège Boréal in Sudbury, Ont will receive iPads for the start of the 2012 school year. The Northern Ontario School of Medicine, also in Sudbury, handed out iPads to each student starting in September 2010.
It’s easy to see the appeal. Writing notes by hand is a pain. You have to print lecture slides out ahead of time, transport them, and then (if your penmanship is anything like mine) scribble all over them. That’s why many of us bring laptops.
But laptops have drawbacks too. Unlike a good-old-fashioned spiral bound notebook, you have to worry about the battery life. Tablets like the iPad are—in the words of Hannah Montana—the best of both worlds. They’re small, easy to transport, and have longer-lasting batteries.
The most important test I’ll ever write?
Even though it’s been more than a week since my last exam, I can’t relax and fully embrace summer vacation. Some of my marks haven’t been posted yet, but that’s not the problem. And I’m pretty sure that I’m not suffering from Post-Exam Stress Disorder, which is usually caused by physics or chemistry exams (I only had biology courses this semester). The reason I can’t relax is because I’m now studying for one of the most important tests that I’ve ever written: the MCAT.
For most schools across Canada, a high GPA and solid extracurricular experience are usually given more weight than the MCAT. Some schools don’t even consider MCAT scores, such as the University of Ottawa and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. McMaster University only considers the Verbal Reasoning portion of the test, and although the University of Toronto requires applicants to write the MCAT, their score isn’t included in the overall academic calculation. Instead, it’s just used as a “flag” during the admissions process, with less than minimum marks possibly disqualifying the application.
When it comes to medical school admissions, an applicant’s MCAT score isn’t a universally-important deciding factor. But it’s still going to be one of the most important tests I’ve ever written.
For one thing, the MCAT is much more important to med schools in the States and abroad. And even if some schools don’t consider the MCAT in their admissions process (or they only use cut-off scores), it’s still important for many Canadian schools, such as the University of Western Ontario. This is especially true outside of Ontario- the University of British Columbia, the University of Calgary, and the University of Manitoba all consider MCAT scores, just to name a few.
So unlike my last summer vacation, the next couple of months won’t just be a combination of part time jobs and relaxing- I’ll also be preparing for the MCAT. And stressing out about the physical sciences section.
Here’s what you need to know
It all starts with choosing your undergraduate degree. The first thing to consider: you don’t necessarily have to go into the sciences. Although a degree in the health sciences is the traditional route to med school , it’s certainly not your only option. Most med schools across Canada treat every undergraduate degree equally, and embrace “well-rounded applicants.” Meaning, a degree in music or sociology might actually give you an advantage in terms of standing out from the crowd.
However, there’s a huge barrier facing non-science students: the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), an exam that assesses problem solving, critical thinking, writing skills, and scientific knowledge. In order to score well on the MCAT, med school hopefuls should have at least a basic background in the sciences, something that a music or sociology degree doesn’t exactly cover. Further, many med schools have prerequisite science courses, such as organic chemistry or physics. A more traditional pre-med program- such as the Biomedical Sciences- has the prerequisite science courses automatically built-in, which also has the helpful side-effect of preparing you for the MCAT.
Of course, a music or sociology student can still take these science courses as electives and prepare for the MCAT. Not to mention, some med schools don’t require the MCAT, such as the Faculty of Medicine at McGill and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. The bottom line: although there is no “right” undergraduate degree, when pursuing a non-traditional degree, you have to chase down those science prerequisites and keep the MCAT in mind.
Secondly, pay attention to the details. Specific admissions requirements vary between particular schools, and you don’t want to ruin your chances by missing something minor. For instance, to be considered at the University of Western Ontario’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, each year of undergraduate study must contain at least 3 full course equivalents whose published academic level is at or above the year of study. This means in your second year of study, 3 of 5 full course equivalents must be at the second year or above, and in your third year of study, 3 of 5 full course equivalents must be at the third year or above (in your fourth year, a mix of third and fourth year courses is acceptable).
There are plenty of other details that vary from school to school: Western considers an applicant’s two best years of study (the whole “3 full course equivalents” rule only applies to these two years), whereas McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine considers every single undergraduate course ever taken. Other med schools consider your two most recent years of study, while others let you drop a certain number of low marks.
Most importantly: although high marks will help your chances of success at any med school, they’re only one part of your application. Most med schools consider extracurricular experience and hobbies, volunteer work, medically-related experience, research experience, and so on.
-Photo courtesy of The National Guard