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Angrythrowaway

Frustrated with the admissions system

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I know many (likely the vast majority) of people on this forum will disagree with what I am about to state, but I think this discussion needs to at least be started. For reference I am a third year med student at an Ontario school. 

Our medical school admissions process in Canada needs an overhaul. It's getting to a point of absurdity. There are significant advantages between students who have connections/are from higher SES and their lower SES/less well-connected counterparts. Nepotism is alive and well in medicine. These inequities have been brought to light before, and are now even incorporated into interview questions, so I won't get further into this. 

But one overlooked inequity relates to the large discrepancy in the difficulty, rigour and quality of undergraduate programs from school to school and program to program. It is ABSURD that medical schools evaluate the GPAs between schools and programs equally. As much as our Arts majors will argue this, a BA in any field has nowhere CLOSE to the difficulty and rigour of a BSc in life sciences or biochemistry. Perhaps components of theory have comparable intellectual challenges, but that still does not equate to the combination of intellectual challenge and sheer content of many science courses. And a U of T, McGill, Queens, uOttawa, Western BSc in life sci/biochem/chem etc. is SIGNIFICANTLY more rigorous than similar programs at smaller liberal arts schools. As a student who has two undergraduate degrees, one in the basic sciences from a medical school-holding University, I can tell you that my second undergraduate degree in Arts was a walk in the park. I had a perfect GPA over 4 years, and I studied HOURS and HOURS LESS than my first degree. Compare that to scratching by in my science undergrad, which I struggled in and left me with little opportunity and a useless piece of paper. Similarly, over the years I have conducted a scoping review comparing science curricula and exams at smaller, liberal arts schools (Brock, Mount Allison, Carleton, UOIT, York, Trent etc. etc.) with curricula for the "equivalent" courses at medical-school holding institutions (U of T, Western, uOttawa, Queens etc.). There is a NIGHT and DAY difference. There are widely known loopholes to complete challenging prerequisites at "other" schools or online, as the difficulty of their exams and assignments are significantly lower. 

And that's not even bringing up the gongshow that is Mac Health Sci with their massively inflated GPAs, yet this program seems to be the single largest feeder program for medical schools across the country. 

I understand that it is not their fault, that alot of them will make good doctors. However we need a system that is far more objective and standardized, and that takes into consideration class averages and standard deviations. 

EDIT: Removed the parts of the post making generalizations regarding personalities in medicine and various programs. Was a silly point I agree. Thank you for those who brought that up. 

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really question if a "third year medical student" really has this much anger at pre-meds and the admission process...more than likely a rejected applicant or pre-med venting their frustrations. But, if you're actually a third year med student, I think you should direct this anger at this issue at something more productive...

 

edit: reading the end of your post "And for those reading this who coasted through a Humanities degree at some liberal arts college and are now a pompous, self-satisfied medical student, for the love of God humble yourself, and appreciate the immense opportunity you received with significantly less effort than many of your colleagues. There are plenty of students out there who didn't make it to a Canadian school who were equally, if not MORE so qualified, so consider yourself lucky and start acting with a greater sense of humility" pretty much confirms you're an angry rejected pre-med.. 

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9 minutes ago, Angrythrowaway said:

The frustration really has come to a boiling a point. Seeing smug, pretentious arts background classmates in medical school, or my "science" background counterparts from "other" schools makes me cynical, jaded, and frustrated. And don't get me started on the Mac Health Scis, many of whom believe they are God's gift to Earth. 

Third year medical student, and you still care this much about the absurd medical school process? Sorry that thing's didn't get better once you got into medicine :(

The process in Canada is not ideal but there's no easy solutions to make it "better", someone always loses, when there are too many qualified applicants for so few seats.

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Just now, JohnGrisham said:

Third year medical student, and you still care this much about the absurd medical school process? Sorry that thing's didn't get better once you got into medicine :(

The process in Canada is not ideal but there's no easy solutions to make it "better", someone always loses, when there are too many qualified applicants for so few seats.

OP thought they were being slick by prefacing their angry rent that they were a third year med student lol

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This sounds like an argument against using GPA as a differentiator between applicants because there is no standardization at all between institutions, or even within institutions.  Although the anger is perhaps misplaced, and the denigration of arts programs and liberal arts colleges reflects poorly on the OP, the argument against the use of GPA has some merit in my opinion.

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Totally understand this post will generate backlash, and my frustration is not really directed at premeds as much as it is classmates who have serious narcissism issues. I totally get that this sounds way angrier than it should, but 3 years of dealing with these types of classmates reaches a boiling point. My apologies to all the people slighted due to the generalizations I made. 

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Just now, Tullius said:

This sounds like an argument against using GPA as a differentiator between applicants because there is no standardization at all between institutions, or even within institutions.  Although the anger is perhaps misplaced, and the denigration of arts programs and liberal arts colleges reflects poorly on the OP, the argument against the use of GPA has some merit in my opinion.

For sure, UofS has a long standing history of not looking at the GPA after a certain point(used to be 81% but now its 85%..hah, inflation even for pre-meds!). 

But all that does is just move the decision point to other arbitrary decision points: wouldn't rich/better-off/well connected students then already have an advantage to have stronger non-academics and potential MCAt scores? 

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I can resonate with your thought of creating a more standardized system for evaluation but you could have conveyed that without bringing down another area of study (Arts). Personally, as a science student, I consider majority of the required courses for a BA really difficult. Everyone's different and excels in areas differently, you can't directly compare the two just on your own experience. Also, the algorithmic way of thinking that's promoted in a BSc isn't the most helpful in the practical side of medicine which has a lot more humanity involved, so I can understand why a diverse cohort is picked for each med class. I guess as a solution, it would be more beneficial to change undergrad curriculums for a BSc pre-med student to encourage learning diverse skills and subjects. Just my two cents (- a rejected applicant)

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I've got to let you know, I was a double major in physiology and english literature (at McGill), and my GPA in my science major was a 3.95.  My GPA in my arts major was about 3.7.   If anything I worked harder in my English degree because the work felt more intellectually difficult.

So your N of 1 and my N of 1 seem to cancel each other out :)

Narcs gotta narc wherever you go or whatever you study.

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6 minutes ago, Tullius said:

OP: So you think the narcissism of a significant proportion of medical students is related to the program of study and institution of their undergraduate degree?

This is actually a really good point. You're right it doesn't correlate, but anecdotally students from programs with inflated GPAs GENERALLY SPEAKING have less appreciation of "the grind" of the admissions process. This sometimes results in more arrogant attitudes towards the whole process and their own ability. Just from my experience. There are actually likely a lot of narcs in science programs as well now that I'm reflecting on it. LOL

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4 minutes ago, Angrythrowaway said:

This is actually a really good point. You're right it doesn't correlate, but anecdotally students from programs with inflated GPAs GENERALLY SPEAKING have less appreciation of "the grind" of the admissions process. This sometimes results in more arrogant attitudes towards the whole process and their own ability. Just from my experience. There are actually likely a lot of narcs in science programs as well now that I'm reflecting on it. LOL

This is wrong lol. I was a hsci and while I acknowledge that there are a numerous narcissistic health scis that are in medical school, they would have stayed terrible regardless of the program they were in. Hsci admin does a lot in terms of trying to address this issue whether it's introducing new courses or adding components of complacency to existing courses, it does not help them at all. I personally am very humbled by my experiences and grateful to a program I would consider to be pretty easy to do well in, and the courses in said program try to invoke this kind of response. But the issue was never the program, it was the shitty people that got in. 

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Btw keep these responses coming, even the ones bashing this post or presenting alternative viewpoints. Hearing these opinions from anonymous accounts definitely helps with the introspection and self-reflection. I can definitely see that perhaps my anger is misplaced, and that my "narcissistic classmates" narrative is conflated with the frustration at the admissions process. I also totally understand why some may question if I am indeed a medical student - unfortunately those feelings of frustration don't always go away when you realize you're 15 years older than your classmates and have been working away at the same goals, and have delayed a significant portion of your life. Not to sound self-pitying, but just to elaborate on the frustration. 

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Also, from being in medical school in a class with 98% of the class from BSc (or above) backgrounds, the level of writing and critical reasoning is embarrassing in many cases.  Even professors (whose first language is English) often reveal their surprisingly low literacy through the writing in their powerpoint slides and written materials, and misuse of words due to not actually understanding their meaning.

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While I disagree with OP's premise, I have to admit that I have encountered "premeds" in undergrad who believed that the most intelligent people in our society are doctors and that they're among that cohort by extension of staying the premed course. I don't think it came from outright hubris though.

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3 minutes ago, offmychestplease said:

can you please elaborate on your last statement? Did you take a significant number of tries to get in?

 

Definitely. 3 tries after my science undergrad, zero interview invites. Completed a 4 year psych degree, 3 interview invites and an acceptance by the end of it. I guess part of the frustration is just seeing how much time was wasted doing that first degree, facing anxiety, being totally burnt out all for nothing. 

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I do think it is reasonable that we should account for the difficulty of programs/schools and grade inflation, however difficult that may be to do. I guess Calgary has that as part of their assessment to some degree with the global assessment of academic merit component. I would be careful about making generalizations about the character of different types of students though. 

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1 minute ago, Angrythrowaway said:

Definitely. 3 tries after my science undergrad, zero interview invites. Completed a 4 year psych degree, 3 interview invites and an acceptance by the end of it. I guess part of the frustration is just seeing how much time was wasted doing that first degree, facing anxiety, being totally burnt out all for nothing. 

wait so you applied a total of 4 times or 7 times? either way, respect as a fellow 4th timer 

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1 minute ago, garceyues said:

I do think it is reasonable that we should account for the difficulty of programs/schools and grade inflation, however difficult that may be to do. I guess Calgary has that as part of their assessment to some degree with the global assessment of academic merit component. I would be careful about making generalizations about the character of different types of students though. 

You're right, that was totally out of line. 

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