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Guest McMastergirl

Residency in Medical Genetics

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Guest Kirsteen

Hi there,

 

Regarding Medical Genetics and gender I know that the person who filled the UofC spot this year was a guy. FYI. Again though, two people I know who are applying to Med Gen this year are women--both of whom are very keen on the Ottawa program. :)

 

Cheers,

Kirsteen

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Guest smurfette99

Hey McMaster girl, thanks for all the updates :) ! I love to read your posts!

 

I actually have yet to start medical school :P I will be at the U of A starting in September :)

 

Right now I sort of have my heart set on genetics, but I know everyone's minds change once they start!

 

Smurfette :)

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Guest McMastergirl

I just finished my first month of 3rd year. As of July 1st, I was back in genetics FULL-TIME. Now a "real" medical genetics resident!

 

I'm having a great time. Currently I'm in charge of the inpatient service (right now we have one baby in NICU we're waiting for results of a FISH for 22q deletion study on, and a couple of kids on the wards we're doing metabolic work-ups on, which so far have been negative), which means following up on our consults and doing all new consults. I'm also attending about 4 clinics per week. The rest of the time is spent reading around patients, and writing letters to referring docs, etc.

 

I've been on call the last 10 days straight. It's home call, so I just carry my pager around everywhere. I can still go out with friends and do my grocery shopping, etc... such a nice change from in-house call! And I haven't been paged much at all. Definitely haven't had to go in to the hospital in the evening or weekend yet... although this does happen occasionally.

 

My program director is trying to arrange tele-health rounds for all the genetic programs in Canada. We would have invited speakers talk to the residents by teleconference. I'm really excited about it... with such a small community it would be nice to get to know other med gen residents better.

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Guest krismd

McMaster girl,

 

Thanks so much for all of your detailed posts and updates. This is a field that I hadn't even considered, but am now considering seriously.

 

I have a question for you about employability. I'm just wondering if, as a medical geneticist, you're limited to a larger centre. As someone from a smaller community, I would prefer not to have to settle in Toronto, Vancouver, etc to raise a family and whatnot. Are there employment opportunities in smaller centres that you know of?

 

Thanks so much!

 

Kris

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Guest McMastergirl

Thank you for posting Kris. A very good question.

 

I haven't had a chance yet to survey the job market, but in Ontario there are a number of smaller centres that have medical geneticists. By smaller, I mean not associated with a medical school. For example, Oshawa and Mississauga. However, you might not consider those places small! I would consider Kingston a small town, but of course it has a medical school and a small medical genetics dept too.

 

So you don't have to live in a big city like Toronto, but I don't think you'd have much luck finding a job in a rural community.

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Guest krismd

Thanks so much for your answer Mac girl!

 

My boyfriend is working in Oshawa right now, so that's exactly the type of answer I was hoping for!!! Something on the small-ish side that I don't have to commute from each day!

 

This field has definitely peaked my interest ...thank god I'm only starting 1st year meds and don't have to make a decision right now! I look forward to reading your future posts and best of luck! :)

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It’s been a couple of YEARS since I last posted, which I feel really bad about… you know how life just gets so BUSY…

 

I’m in the home stretch of my residency in Medical Genetics. The last 3 years were even better than the first 2. I’m writing my Royal College Specialty exam in April… I can’t believe it has snuck up so quickly!

 

Here is a brief overview of the structure of my residency in Medical Genetics in Ottawa. (Everyone’s experience will be different, even those in the same program)

 

Year 1 – “Adult Medicine Year” – rotations in adult medicine specialties, including Endocrinology, Neurology, Nephrology, Dermatology, Pathology, Oncology, etc, as well as doing call for internal medicine. Also did a 2-month rotation (mandatory) in Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

 

Year 2 – “Pediatric Medicine Year” – rotations in inpatient pediatrics, ambulatory pediatrics, Development, Child Neurology, NICU, Peds cardiology, etc.

 

Year 3 – the first half is lab rotations: 2 months each of Cytogenetics, Molecular Genetics, and Biochemical Genetics. The second half is the official start of clinical genetics. I attended genetics and metabolics clinics, genetics rounds, genetic counselling sessions, and did call exclusively for genetics/metabolics. I also saw inpatient consults.

 

Years 4 and 5 – My rotations were more specialized. I did 2 months of Cancer genetics, 3 months of Prenatal genetics, several months of research, 3 months of metabolics, and the rest were “General Genetics” months where I did clinics and consults. I attended several conferences and short courses, funded by the department. I spent a month in Victoria BC doing a “Community and Outreach Genetics” elective and a month in Toronto doing a mandatory metabolics rotation at Sick Kids.

 

I’m happy to answer any questions!

 

Melissa

;)

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Thanks for the welcome! At one point you asked me to be a moderator and I'm not sure what happened but I could never log on...

 

So, in fourth year you really have to start thinking about what the next step is. For me, it was either "get a job" or do a fellowship. There aren't many "official" fellowships for geneticists (by official I mean those that are established already with funding attached). The majority of geneticists I know who go on to do fellowships either do metabolics or some sort of research fellowship (eg a post-doc) or a lab fellowship (in cytogenetics or molecular genetics).

 

I was not interested in any of those options! There are lots of jobs in Canada for "general" geneticists - that is, you practise a little bit of everything, from prenatal to pediatric to cancer. But I really wanted to focus on developmental disabilities - I've always been most interested in the kids with developmental delays.

 

With this in mind, I tried to find somewhere in ANY english-speaking country that would provide me with this training as well as pay me. No luck. They have a residency program in the US called "Neurodevelopment" or something like that, but no fellowships (ie, I would have to first enter the match in the US, and then repeat residency for 5 years - no thanks!). I also looked into research-based fellowships, and I even found a supervisor in Vancouver who seemed great, but the funding was an issue. She said we could probably apply for a bunch of grants and piece together a salary for me.

 

In the end, I applied to the Developmental Pediatrics fellowship at U of T, and despite my non-traditional background (ie, not being a pediatrician!), I got in. I think it's going to work out fabulously... it's a LOT closer to home than Vancouver, and the funding is for 2 years, no grant applications!

 

So, I'm hoping to ultimately practise as a geneticist with expertise in developmental disabilities, ranging from autism to intellectual disability to global developmental delay.

 

What are you up to Ian? I'll have to look for your more recent posts.

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Hi DNA Doc,

 

I have some questions and I would appreciate if you help me on these.

 

Would you please tell me how competitive is Medical Genetics compared to 5 years ago when you entered.

 

Do we need a MSc in genetics to get accepted for this residency (like in your case)?

 

How do you rank the Medical Genetics program between different Universities all over the country?

 

What program directors look in a potential applicant to get accepted for?

 

Many thanks in advance and good luck for your board exam.

 

Samuel

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Hi there, thanks for your post. Here are your questions and my answers below.

 

1. Would you please tell me how competitive is Medical Genetics compared to 5 years ago when you entered.

 

From year to year it seems to vary a lot. My year wasn't competitive at all, but the year after mine was. When I say competitive, I mean relatively - genetics has never been even close to as competitive as specialties like radiology and opthalmology. The last few years have been particularly disappointing in terms of the number of good applicants to genetics programs across Canada (by good, I mean someone who truly wants to do genetics, as opposed to someone who used it as a back up). The Ottawa program went unmatched in the first round of CaRMS for the past 2 years.

 

Bottom line, if you truly want to do genetics and have demonstrated it (see below), your chances are really, really good.

 

2. Do we need a MSc in genetics to get accepted for this residency (like in your case)?

 

Absolutely not. I don't think the fact that I had an MSc had much to do with it at all. There are geneticists with PhDs (very few) and Masters, but also LOTS without any grad degree. Having an undergrad degree in molecular biology, genetics, or biochemistry helps, but again, isn't a prerequisite.

 

3. How do you rank the Medical Genetics program between different Universities all over the country?

 

That's hard for me to say, considering I've only had experience with one, my own! There's no process by which residency programs are compared and ranked. They all must follow the basic guidelines set out in the Royal College. I think Ottawa is probably the strongest program, but then again, I'm biased.

 

4. What program directors look in a potential applicant to get accepted for?

I think number one has to be a demonstrated interest in pursuing this specialty. Having done multiple electives in genetics is the best way. They want to make sure you know what a geneticist does.

 

Communication skills is a close second. Geneticists do a LOT of talking. Counselling patients is our bread and butter.

 

If you have those two things, everything else is a bonus (eg research experience, formal training in genetics, etc)

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Hi DNA Doc,

 

Thanks a lot. I also sent you a private message in regards of the medical genetics residency. I would appreciate if you answer that question too.

 

Many thanks again for your kind effort for making this thread a great reference for MG.

 

Thanks.

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Thank u very much DNA Doc

it was very informitive post since that i am medical student looking for medical genetics position in canada .

i would like to aske u about the chances to be accepted in one of the residency programe in canada generaly and ( U of T in particullar ) for a student from out said canada .

 

my best regard

maz

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Maz, I'm probably not the best person to ask about that. If I were you, I'd go right to the top - the program director of the program(s) you're interested in. The situation changes from year to year. If you make yourself known to them, they are more likely to go to bat for you.

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Okay , guys , I need help and some clarification.

 

 

Is residency in Medical Genetics a part of Med School? So to become a resident in MedGens, one would have to apply into Medical school/ take MCAT exams and everything that follows?

 

Am I correct?

 

Any help would be appreciated

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Is residency in Medical Genetics a part of Med School? So to become a resident in MedGens, one would have to apply into Medical school/ take MCAT exams and everything that follows?

 

Residency is after med school. So, you'd have to write the MCAT, apply to med school, gain admission to med school, successfully complete med school, and then you could do a residency in medical genetics.

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I just finished my Royal College exams a few weeks ago. There were 9 of us in the whole country, and everyone had to come to Ottawa, so I was lucky that I got to sleep in my own bed. The exams are 2 days long. You do 2 3-hour short-answer written exams the first day and a 4 hour OSCE the second day. I found out my results on the third day - I passed! It's pass or fail only.

 

The exam was exhausting more than it was stressful. I'm just glad to have it over with!!

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Hey DNA Doc,

Congratulations on being all done! I sent you a PM about med gen if you get a chance to read it.

 

Best of luck from here on. It must be really exciting to have finished your training and have the whole country open to you for career possibilities.

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Hi all, I thought I would take a few minutes to update those who are still reading about my post-residency experiences.

 

I decided that I wanted to sub-specialize, so I chose to do a fellowship. Mind you, there aren't a lot of organized fellowships for Geneticists, so I had to be a bit creative. I knew I was interested in "MR" (mental retardation - more politically correct term is intellectual disability or "ID"), so I considered doing a pediatric neurology fellowship, but in the end I settled on a developmental pediatrics fellowship. I applied to the program in Toronto and I got in.

 

This is a rather unprecented move (I know of one other med gen grad who did the same thing, out in Vancouver), but it was the right one for me. Here is what some of the other grads from the past few years are doing:

 

1. Working as an consultant physician in either an academic center or a community hospital

 

2. Fellowship in Metabolics (very popular choice these days)

 

3. Research fellowship (no clinical component)

 

4. Laboratory fellowship (through the CCMG - Canadian College of Medical Geneticists - in Cytogenetics and/or Molecular genetics)

 

5. Mini-fellowship in cancer genetics, prenatal genetics, or ethics (one resident from Manitoba took a year during her genetics residency to do a Masters in Ethics at Harvard)

 

I started my fellowship in July, right after finishing residency. I spend most of my time doing clinical rotations relevant to Child Development (Autism, Learning disabilities and Behaviour, Child psych, child neuro, neuromuscular clinics, etc). I'll be using most of my electives to do autism genetics research with a big group here in Toronto.

 

Not sure exactly where all this is headed yet, but it's a very exciting field!!

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Hey DNA Doc!

 

Thanks so much for your story about your residency. I am extremely interested in Medical Genetics. This thread has helped a lot. I am a first year undergraduate student at the University of Waterloo and I actually was hoping to go to McMaster for med school and then do my residency in Medical Genetics at Ottawa just as you did. Do you have any suggestions for an undergraduate? Thanks!

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Hi Jacqueline, that's a great question... here is some general advice for undergrads interested in medical genetics...

 

1. Take as many genetics/molecular biology courses as you can.

2. Volunteer in some capacity as a peer counsellor, or work with people with special needs.

3. Start talking to Clinical Geneticists and Genetic Counsellors now. Find out who is practising in your community and see if you can get in there and make some connections!

4. Consider doing a masters degree in human genetics before med school. Not absolutely necessary, but a great learning experience and looks great on med school and residency applications.

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Hi all,

I'm interested in medical genetics and hope to do an elective next year (3rd year). Does anyone have any insight into the elective experience at different places? I'm thinking Toronto at the moment, in large part because I figured the large and diverse population would present interesting cases that would not be seen in smaller centres. I'm most interested in pediatrics (including pre-natal), less so in cancer genetics. Can anyone recommend an elective they've done or heard about? Many thanks!

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