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Q&a With Mcgill Med Ambassadors

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Hello everyone,

Let us present ourselves: we are student ambassadors of McGill Medicine. Not too long ago, we were in the applicant seats and we sympathize with the anxiety that comes along with that role. In fact, some of us roamed the pages here at premed101 and asked questions of our own in the hope of elucidating some of our worries about the application process and student life at McGill Medicine.

We are glad to tell you that we are happy with our choice and this has brought us to pilot this Q&A initiative, where we hope to give back some of the good advice we have received along the way. Please do note that although we are affiliated with McGill's admission committee, the opinions we give here represent an honest and subjective view that is independent from the admissions committee.

Now that is cleared up...Dear applicants, please ask away!

Wishing you the very best during this application session,

McGill Med Ambassadors

Questions list (updated infrequently, search is your friend!)

 

 

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I have a few questions: 

 

1. How do you recommend preparation for the MMI? I know you can disclose any specifics about McGill MMI, but some detailed tips for preparation would certainly be helpful 

 

2. What are some pros and cons (in your and your peers' opinions) of McGill med with respect to the student life there and also the program (e.g. support, opportunities, qualify of instruction, etc.)? 

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Hello McGill Med Ambassadors!

 

I wanted to start by saying thank you for spending time helping us. My questions are :

 

- Are there any books you can suggest us that would help us prepare for the MMIs?

- Are there any groups of coaching for the MMIs that you can suggest us?

 

Thank you!

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Hi guys,

 

First off, congratulations to those of you who received an interview offer. This was definitely not an easy feat, and does indeed bring you a few steps closer to your medical school acceptance. Good job!

 

When it comes to prepping for the MMIs, I honestly think it is a different process for each person. What is certain is that it is important to take the time to get know yourself, and to figure out what it is exactly that you can do right now so that you can be comfortable expressing yourself on the day of the MMIs.  

 

For some, it is about practising with other people with different scenarios they brainstorm together so that they can learn to formulate coherent arguments within a short period of time. There is a variety of services out there, which I am sure you can find with a simple Google search. Some schools offer their own practice sessions; applicants on this forum also get together, although I cannot comment on from personal experience on how that worked out in the past years. 

 

From personal experience, prior to the MMIs, my prep was to do some serious introspection about who I am as a person, my beliefs, my values and my goals. I am not going to lie to you, I might have spent hours surfing the web searching for MMI tricks and tips, read my CV and personal statement so many times that I could probably recite it by heart, and I did read a few medical ethics books or two (Doing Right was a big one). I even made myself a playlist of songs that I listened to during these moments when I was less sure about myself. But looking back, I think that what all these things really did for me was provide me with a certain sense of calm and peace. The second I walked into my first station, every medical theory I learnt was pretty thrown out of the window and I had no time to be anyone else but to be myself. 

 

I know my process can sound vague to some of you, but really, what I am trying to say is, there is no magical formula to prepping for the MMIs. The generic list goes on and on: MMI practice sessions, reading medical news, learning about medical ethics, etc. Bottom line is, do the things that you feel comfortable with doing, and on the day of the interview, be your (better) self. 

 

Hope this helps! Good luck!

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Thanks for doing this ! 

 

1- Could you describe a typical day  , class in the morning ? free afternoon ?   and how are the semesters ? ( exam every two weeks?) 

 

2- How much "free" time do you actually have to study ?

 

3-  What is the general atmosphere between students, do you feel some kind of competition. 

 

4- Are you graded or is it pass/fail ? 

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Thanks for doing this ! 

 

1- Could you describe a typical day  , class in the morning ? free afternoon ?   and how are the semesters ? ( exam every two weeks?) 

 

2- How much "free" time do you actually have to study ?

 

3-  What is the general atmosphere between students, do you feel some kind of competition. 

 

4- Are you graded or is it pass/fail ? 

 

I'll do my best to address your questions.

 

1. The McGill medical curriculum for the first 1.5 years is divided into blocks that are usually based on systems of the body. The length of blocks varies from 3-8 weeks, after which an exam is held. Longer blocks tend to have midterms, so you can expect an exam every 4 weeks or so. Every 3 months, give or take, there is a cumulative exam that covers clinically relevant material. A detailed schema can be found here.

 

We usually have 3 hours of lecture in the morning, an hour lunch break, followed by a 2-3 hour activity that is usually either a lab (histology/anatomy), a small group session, or a session observing a family medical doctor who we begin to shadow in the first week of medical school.

 

This typically leaves us free after 3:30 PM to study and pursue our extracurricular interests. Morning lectures are recorded and attendance is not mandatory, so you are free to adjust the morning schedule as you see fit.

 

2. You are typically free from 3:30 PM each day.

 

3. I find the atmosphere between my classmates to be extremely non-competitive. We help each other out by sharing condensed notes, helpful pnemonics, study strategies, etc.

 

4. McGill's medical curriculum is pass/fail (must score above 60%).

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I'll do my best to address your questions.

 

1. The McGill medical curriculum for the first 1.5 years is divided into blocks that are usually based on systems of the body. The length of blocks varies from 3-8 weeks, after which an exam is held. Longer blocks tend to have midterms, so you can expect an exam every 4 weeks or so. Every 3 months, give or take, there is a cumulative exam that covers clinically relevant material. A detailed schema can be found here.

 

We usually have 3 hours of lecture in the morning, an hour lunch break, followed by a 2-3 hour activity that is usually either a lab (histology/anatomy), a small group session, or a session observing a family medical doctor who we begin to shadow in the first week of medical school.

 

This typically leaves us free after 3:30 PM to study and pursue our extracurricular interests. Morning lectures are recorded and attendance is not mandatory, so you are free to adjust the morning schedule as you see fit.

 

2. You are typically free from 3:30 PM each day.

 

3. I find the atmosphere between my classmates to be extremely non-competitive. We help each other out by sharing condensed notes, helpful pnemonics, study strategies, etc.

 

4. McGill's medical curriculum is pass/fail (must score above 60%).

What are some aspects of McGill and/or the program that you don't like and could be improved? 

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Hey Guys, 

 

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions!!

 

I was wondering if you had any information regarding the MDCM&PhD program: in terms of the interview! (I know I should receive a more detailed email shortly).

And also, if you knew how many candidates they are looking to accept to the program? 

 

Thanks!

 

All the best!

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What are some aspects of McGill and/or the program that you don't like and could be improved? 

 

On my side of things, I find it quite exciting to be part of McGill's new curriculum. Should you become part of the MDCM program for fall 2015, you will be amongst the third generation of medical students studying within the new curriculum (the first generation being class of 2017).

 

I enjoy the fact that this curriculum integrates a variety of learning methods. Morning lectures during the first year and a half give structure to the information that we are learning, while afternoon activities which include anatomy and histology labs, small groups and visits to our family medicine preceptor (a form of active shadowing, if you will), allow us to assimilate the material in a different and perhaps more concrete way.

 

Precisely, during the first year and a half, med students are divided into small groups of 15 people, and for each block (a block can be for eg. the cardiovascular system, another one can be about the respiratory system, we have in total about 10 of them during the first 1.5 years), there are small groups scheduled where a tutor (MD specialist in the field we're talking about) walks us through clinical cases. I really enjoy my small groups - they allow me to ask questions much more freely and at the same time, I get know some of my classmates really well!

 

The anatomy labs component is also not something that every med school has. While some might disagree with me, I feel extremely lucky to be able to discover on my own the systems that we are studying about on a real human body. It is, in my opinion, an incredible opportunity to be able to uncover the mysteries of the human body through the dissection of a human cadaver.

 

The afternoons we spend in clinics with our family medicine preceptors is new in this curriculum. That would be a plus as well - it is definitely an asset to get clinical exposure at such an early stage of our training!

 

Of course, with a new curriculum, there could be bumps along the road as the faculty smoothes out final details. It is true that for the class of 2018, lectures were added here and there to make sure that concepts that were unclear for the previous year are addressed this year. That said, the faculty is quite receptive to student comments and actually encourage us to submit them on a regular basis. This is always appreciated, and I believe that with time, the curriculum should only get more and more comprehensive!

 

Any issues we have with our curriculum we are able to voice with the routine feedback that we give for each individual lecture or in the meetings our class president and representatives have with the faculty after each block with suggestions on improvements for the following years. McGill is being extremely receptive to student input in the new curriculum. Since they are being transparent and including us in preparation for improving the curriculum for next year, I don't feel as though there are outstanding issues to complain about.

 

I love my classmates, I love the city, I love the curriculum. I suppose the one negative aspect of McGill is the winter weather, but if you enjoy winter sports than you can make winter work to your advantage.

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Hey Guys, 

 

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions!!

 

I was wondering if you had any information regarding the MDCM&PhD program: in terms of the interview! (I know I should receive a more detailed email shortly).

And also, if you knew how many candidates they are looking to accept to the program? 

 

Thanks!

 

All the best!

 

The MD/PhD interview information should be sent to you shortly. You can expect a more traditional style interview with 2-4 faculty members, followed by an informal interview with 1-2 current MD/PhD students. Last year, the MD/PhD applicants who were interviewed were told that the purpose of the interview was to find the best fit for the program, as receiving the interview invite showed that the candidates had very good research potential. 

 

McGill is expanding their MD/PhD program starting this year. You can expect at least 5 people to be accepted into the joint program this year. Funding is also being increased, with the stipend coming directly from the Faculty of Medicine at McGill and not dependent on government/CIHR funding. If you have further questions about the MD/PhD program, I recommend starting a different thread on the topic and we'll do our best to address all of your questions!

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I love my classmates, I love the city, I love the curriculum. I suppose the one negative aspect of McGill is the winter weather, but if you enjoy winter sports than you can make winter work to your advantage.

 

HA!  :D

 

Regarding new students who are not yet fully bilingual (know English but aren't fluent in French yet, or vice versa), how do you find they fair? For instance, I imagine having conversational language skills in both languages is vital for the family physician shadowing in first year, so for anyone who isn't, do you find they are able to quickly learn, and not fall behind? How many new students are in this kind of situation where they need to learn or brush up their conversation skills in either language?

 

Thanks again for answering our questions!  :)

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HA!  :D

 

Regarding new students who are not yet fully bilingual (know English but aren't fluent in French yet, or vice versa), how do you find they fair? For instance, I imagine having conversational language skills in both languages is vital for the family physician shadowing in first year, so for anyone who isn't, do you find they are able to quickly learn, and not fall behind? How many new students are in this kind of situation where they need to learn or brush up their conversation skills in either language?

 

Thanks again for answering our questions!  :)

 
Good question; this is a concern that many candidates have, as they wonder if this can affect their performance in school and in hospitals. 
 
All of our lectures and most of our activities (other than the family medicine experience you alluded to) during the first two years are in English. For the francophones, there might be a bit of a transition at the beginning, but rest assured that you are not alone, and that those who have passed before you did it just fine. That said, you are right, some of the patients we see when we follow our family medicine preceptors speak French. While it would definitely be ideal if you were perfectly bilingual, I have not heard much complaint about the language barrier for the students who are only fluent in English or French. Since the family medicine experience serves as an exposure to the clinical environment at an early stage of our training, we do not play a major role in providing care for the patient coming in. Thus, my guess is that if there is a language barrier preventing one from understanding some patients, it does not greatly affect our ability to appreciate the principles of family medicine, which remains one of the fundamental objectives of that experience.
 
Now, the Faculty does require its medical students to be functional in both languages by the start of clerkship, i.e. year 3, when we will start taking care of patients. Quite a few students fall into the situation where they need to brush up on their French (some do not know it all). Luckily, the Faculty offers French classes that students can take at their leisure. The Medical Student Society also has a Clinical French Club, where students get together on a regular basis to practice clinical scenarios in French. Moreover, there are community French classes at many locations in Montréal, so I would say that if there is a will to learn French, there is for a sure a way! 

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Good question; this is a concern that many candidates have, as they wonder if this can affect their performance in school and in hospitals. 
 
All of our lectures and most of our activities (other than the family medicine experience you alluded to) during the first two years are in English. For the francophones, there might be a bit of a transition at the beginning, but rest assured that you are not alone, and that those who have passed before you did it just fine. That said, you are right, some of the patients we see when we follow our family medicine preceptors speak French. While it would definitely be ideal if you were perfectly bilingual, I have not heard much complaint about the language barrier for the students who are only fluent in English or French. Since the family medicine experience serves as an exposure to the clinical environment at an early stage of our training, we do not play a major role in providing care for the patient coming in. Thus, my guess is that if there is a language barrier preventing one from understanding some patients, it does not greatly affect our ability to appreciate the principles of family medicine, which remains one of the fundamental objectives of that experience.
 
Now, the Faculty does require its medical students to be functional in both languages by the start of clerkship, i.e. year 3, when we will start taking care of patients. Quite a few students fall into the situation where they need to brush up on their French (some do not know it all). Luckily, the Faculty offers French classes that students can take at their leisure. The Medical Student Society also has a Clinical French Club, where students get together on a regular basis to practice clinical scenarios in French. Moreover, there are community French classes at many locations in Montréal, so I would say that if there is a will to learn French, there is for a sure a way! 

 

Thanks for the detailed response. This is something that was of concern to me as well. So essentially, if you pretty much have to be fluent in French by 3rd year...

 

That's certainly a concerning factor even with all the available resources you mentioned because the student has to spend a lot of time on their own to learn it. 

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Thanks for the detailed response. This is something that was of concern to me as well. So essentially, if you pretty much have to be fluent in French by 3rd year...

 

That's certainly a concerning factor even with all the available resources you mentioned because the student has to spend a lot of time on their own to learn it. 

 

No problem, I am glad that it provides some answer to your concern.

 

Mind you, I wouldn't say that we are required to be perfectly "fluent." Functional, I would say, would be a better description of the level we should be at as we start interacting with patients. Here is a link that can give you more info about the workshops the Faculty offers if you wish to learn more about the time commitment they require of you: http://www.mcgill.ca/ugme/curriculum/french-medical-workshop

 

All this remains an opinion of mine - feel free to ask more about this at the interviews; others might have a different perspective.

 

All the best!

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McGillMedAmbassadors, do you know from how many in average the waiting list move every year for quebec university level?

 

I actually had the same question in mind when I applied to McGill. The answer that was given to me by the Faculty is that this number is not revealed since it fluctuates each year. Thus, it really depends on the pool of applicants, meaning that an average wouldn't be very representative and might mislead some candidates. 

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Does Mcgill use APP ("apprentissage par problème") like Udem ? or something similar ?

 

Do you know when we will receive our offer after the MMI ?

 

Thanks !

 

McGill does use APP. We call them "small groups" instead. Although it depends on the physiological system that we are covering, we can expect to have 1-2 small groups per week (each lasting 2-3h), where a tutor (specialist in the medical field we are discussing about) walks us through different clinical scenarios. I must say that it is a great occasion to ask questions and interact with our classmates on a more personal level. Indeed, the whole class is separated into groups of 15 students, and after a while, we get to know other fairly well!

 

Lastly, admission decisions are released approx 3 weeks post-MMIs. Good luck!

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McGill does use APP. We call them "small groups" instead. Although it depends on the physiological system that we are covering, we can expect to have 1-2 small groups per week (each lasting 2-3h), where a tutor (specialist in the medical field we are discussing about) walks us through different clinical scenarios. I must say that it is a great occasion to ask questions and interact with our classmates on a more personal level. Indeed, the whole class is separated into groups of 15 students, and after a while, we get to know other fairly well!

 

Lastly, admission decisions are released approx 3 weeks post-MMIs. Good luck!

3 weeks...wow that's really fast! I wasn't aware of that. That means that we would have to accept their offer before hearing back from other schools though...

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