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Any Questions About Mcmaster In General Or The Niagara Regional Campus?

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Hey everyone,

 

My name is Daegan and I'm a first year medical student over at the Niagara regional campus. Let me know if you have any questions from a student's perspective. Please note that the views I represent here are my own, and do not necessarily reflect those of McMaster University or the McMaster Niagara Campus. 

 

Daegan

 

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Hi Daegan!! :)

 

I can also offer my perspective from the NRC. Again, just personal opinions:

 

How did you feel after your interview?

Felt good for the most part, some shaky stations, but there's no use thinking about it afterwards, so I learned to let it go and go about my life as normal :P

 

Did you find you left the MMIs confident?

Yes for the most part (some of it was probably feigned confidence), but this really has no bearing on the outcome in my opinion. I had done several MMIs in the past (previous cycles, other schools) and felt confident from those too and have been waitlisted or outright rejected.

 

What made you choose Mac? 

It was my only option :D having said that, if I could choose, I still would've picked Mac. I like the autonomy of studying at my own pace and learning through discussing with other ppl as opposed to having a lecturer talk at me for hours (though that is available too). I also like the idea of finishing one year earlier as an older student. You still have plenty of opportunity to immerse yourself in shadowing/elective experiences if you wish to explore different types of medicine.

 

Did you rank Niagara first? 

Nope, ranked it last. Happy for once I didn't get what I wanted though because I do like it here very much now. I ranked it last simply because I didn't know much about it and admittedly didn't put in the time to find out. I think I'm the odd one out though, as most of my classmates here did rank it first if not second.

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Not sure how I'd rank the campuses at Mac when I have to post-interview...

 

Hamilton is good as it's where the first few months are spent during MF1 (iirc) so I wouldn't be doing much commuting/moving around, it's a decent sized city which has its perks and I would assume most of the research/observership opportunities are present here.

 

On the other hand I've been thinking about the Waterloo campus as I think that's where there's a great clinical skills facility (something family med centered that is fairly new iirc) plus the closer interaction with faculty would be great.

 

Tempted to rank waterloo number one, but thinking I might rank Hamilton first just to be safe...I'd be happy at a regional site regardless I think (just makes commuting back and forth annoying however, especially with interest groups, observerships, first few months of school, social activities, etc.).

 

Not too sure about what NRC has to offer though.

 

I've watched the videos on the Mac website about each of the campuses, but it would be nice to have more first-hand accounts from students who are there right now.

 
Questions:
 

It would be nice if students from WRC and NRC could share their personal experiences--what do you like/not like, what have you found challenging about med school in general/Mac's organization or style of curriculum, what are the main selling points of each of the regional campuses? What are the cities themselves like (weather, things to do, etc.) at Waterloo and Niagara. 

 

 

Also, do you ever find yourself wishing you had more of the traditional lecture style teaching? I am someone who doesn't really find themselves learning when sitting in lecture and find it pretty boring/tiresome. I prefer independent learning and would probably be a serial vodcaster in school :P. Just wondering what that balance is like at Mac. 

 

 

Would it be possible to give us an idea of what a typical week looks like for a first year med student?

 

 

Thanks!

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Hi Daegan, 

 

Thanks for offering this.

 

How did you feel after your interview?

 

 

 

  • I felt good about half of the stations and the other half I tried not to think about too much. 
  • Definitely not confident, but I felt the stations weren't too terrible in general

What made you choose Mac? 

 

 

 

 

  • I liked the teaching style a lot more than traditional medical schools. Learning is tutorial based, which I find is way more efficient than learning from lectures. Back at McGill I was used to watching a ton of lectures online, memorizing, and than regurgitating the material. Learning in this way is fast in the short term, but I found I didn't retain a lot. In contrast, at Mac you prepare for specific cases each week, and are free to use any learning material you want - whether that be textbooks, articles, uptodate, lectures. There isn't any memorizing of minutia. At the tutorials, you then go through the case with your peers with a physician/professor as a facilitator and this process helps you consolidate the material (you learn better when you teach) and make sure the material is accurate/relevant. The lectures they provide are more or less optional - you could use them as a basis of your preparation, or you could use textbooks if you're more comfortable with that. Thus, in all you have learning that centered around a "problem" or case, as opposed to learning centered around what the prof says at lecture.
  • The Medical Foundation-based learning is also something I strong support. I'm not sure if you guys learned about the teaching style, but basically preclerkship is split up into 5 topic sections, called "Medical Foundations". In each MF you study the physiology, anatomy, pathology, pharmacology and clinical skills associated with that MF. Despite how common sense this sounds, not all medical schools necessarily do this. For instance, some schools may teach the clinical skills, anatomy, pharmacology or pathology as a completely separate unit, after teaching all the physiology.
  • Having 3 years is also a bonus. You could take a year off if you wanted for research. This would actually probably be more useful in terms of research, as opposed to doing research in summer blocks like you do at other medical schools. I'm not sure if there is a limitation on how many students can do a year off, but most people really don't want to, so the demand isn't high. I am doing 3 years.
  • Finally, I would argue that Mac is the one school that really looks at evidenced-based evaluation criteria (on what makes a good doctor) to use for admissions. While it might be frustrating for some that Mac only looks at your VR score, the fact is only VR score and not PS/BS scores have been correlated with better physician performance I believe. The MMI and Casper are other examples. MMI for instance, still hasn't been adopted by all Cdn medical schools, or they have a version of MMI that's below the 7 needed interview stations needed for reliability.

Did you rank Niagara first? 

 

Thanks  :)

 

I originally picked the Hamilton campus but was offered Niagara. I think in the end, I was actually glad to be at Niagara. There was a survey the upper years showed us last year for our interview day, asking satisfaction with campus preferences. All three campuses reported the majority of students in the end thought that their own campus was the best. There was a slightly higher proportion of NRC/WRC students than Hamilton students who expressed that would not have preferred the opposite style of campus. I definitely fall in the latter category. 

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Just to jump in (don't mean to step on your toes, Daegan. Just thought I'd offer since I'm reading at the moment.)

 

Typical week for me right now (I have Tuesday/Friday tutorials, but Monday/Thursday is more common.)

 

Monday: Study at home; watching previous week's lectures, tutorial prep, etc. (also: nap, grocery shop, plan an awesome supper, have doctor's appointments. Life stuff. Plus studying.)

Tuesday: 9-12 ProComp (everyone has this at that time) then tutorial 2-5.

Wednesday: Every third or fourth week, standardized clinical skills session. Anatomy in the afternoon if you choose to go. I don't. I do my own thing. I often have my weekly clinical skills sessions on Wednesday evenings.

Thursday: Tutorial prep at home.

Friday: Tutorial 2-5.

 

LGS (large group sessions/lecture) are typically Monday and Friday mornings. Because I live on the mountain in Hamilton, traffic in the morning is a pain in the arse so I just don't go unless we have a CAE (test, basically) that morning. I have dedicated study space at home and I am comfortable doing all of my studying independently.

 

For what it's worth, I ranked Hamilton highest and I got Hamilton, but I actually sort of wish I'd picked a regional campus since I'm a bit of a quieter person in social situations and I find very large groups - like LGS - uncomfortable.

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After the weekend, I'm definitely leaning towards the Niagara campus as my preference. But I have a family with two young children, and my wife is concerned that it will be difficult to find work in the Niagara region. Does anyone else have partners/significant others/family that work in the area??

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Right now I'm leaning towards the Niagara campus.  Does anyone know if there is a huge savings in terms of cost of living compared to Hamilton (ie. rent?) 

 

thanks!

 

Rent in Hamilton can be found for surprisingly cheap (and also expensive if you want a really nice place), I don't actually believe there is that much cost savings living in Niagara but I could be wrong. 

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Not sure how I'd rank the campuses at Mac when I have to post-interview...

 

Hamilton is good as it's where the first few months are spent during MF1 (iirc) so I wouldn't be doing much commuting/moving around, it's a decent sized city which has its perks and I would assume most of the research/observership opportunities are present here.

 

On the other hand I've been thinking about the Waterloo campus as I think that's where there's a great clinical skills facility (something family med centered that is fairly new iirc) plus the closer interaction with faculty would be great.

 

Tempted to rank waterloo number one, but thinking I might rank Hamilton first just to be safe...I'd be happy at a regional site regardless I think (just makes commuting back and forth annoying however, especially with interest groups, observerships, first few months of school, social activities, etc.).

 

Not too sure about what NRC has to offer though.

 

I've watched the videos on the Mac website about each of the campuses, but it would be nice to have more first-hand accounts from students who are there right now.

 
Questions:
 

It would be nice if students from WRC and NRC could share their personal experiences--what do you like/not like, what have you found challenging about med school in general/Mac's organization or style of curriculum, what are the main selling points of each of the regional campuses? What are the cities themselves like (weather, things to do, etc.) at Waterloo and Niagara. 

 

 

Also, do you ever find yourself wishing you had more of the traditional lecture style teaching? I am someone who doesn't really find themselves learning when sitting in lecture and find it pretty boring/tiresome. I prefer independent learning and would probably be a serial vodcaster in school :P. Just wondering what that balance is like at Mac. 

 

 

Would it be possible to give us an idea of what a typical week looks like for a first year med student?

 

 

Thanks!

 

In terms of clinical skills rooms, Niagara has plenty. We've never had an issue with our clinical skills tutorial leader not being able to book us a clinical skills room. In Hamilton, they have to book a room at the "Center for Simulation Based Learning" rooms which basically has a bunch of clinical skills rooms. Usually there should not be an issue with booking rooms for Hamilton. We definitely used the clinical skills room more in Niagara though... it was almost every session in Niagara versus once every few tutorials when I was in Hamilton. However, that could have just been due to our tutorial leader's preferences. Also, I would say both Niagara and Hamilton have great, new clinical skills rooms so that isn't a defining factor in my mind.

 

Commuting is definitely a for regional campuses negative. One good thing is that many Interest Group planning/activities you help out with can just do online and through meetings over VC.

 

Here are my thoughts copied below on Mac's teaching style:

 

 

 

  • I liked the teaching style a lot more than traditional medical schools. Learning is tutorial based, which I find is way more efficient than learning from lectures. Back at McGill I was used to watching a ton of lectures online, memorizing, and than regurgitating the material. Learning in this way is fast in the short term, but I found I didn't retain a lot. In contrast, at Mac you prepare for specific cases each week, and are free to use any learning material you want - whether that be textbooks, articles, uptodate, lectures. There isn't any memorizing of minutia. At the tutorials, you then go through the case with your peers with a physician/professor as a facilitator and this process helps you consolidate the material (you learn better when you teach) and make sure the material is accurate/relevant. The lectures they provide are more or less optional - you could use them as a basis of your preparation, or you could use textbooks if you're more comfortable with that. Thus, in all you have learning that centered around a "problem" or case, as opposed to learning centered around what the prof says at lecture.
  • The Medical Foundation-based learning is also something I strong support. I'm not sure if you guys learned about the teaching style, but basically preclerkship is split up into 5 topic sections, called "Medical Foundations". In each MF you study the physiology, anatomy, pathology, pharmacology and clinical skills associated with that MF. Despite how common sense this sounds, not all medical schools necessarily do this. For instance, some schools may teach the clinical skills, anatomy, pharmacology or pathology as a completely separate unit, after teaching all the physiology.

 

I would add:

 

  • Pros
  • All of the above; really lets you use your time efficiently
  • Testing is fair. Basically, there is two testing methods:
  • CAEs (concept application exercises): 6 question, short answer test, an hour long. The tutorial leader marks the CAE, grading each q's on whether they are satisfactory. Tutorial leader uses the CAE in addition to their observation of you during tutorial sessions to see if you are moving along with the group. The CAEs are like "unit tests" which happen at the end of set of every section. So in MF1, we study respirology, cardiology, and hematology. At the end of each respirology, cardiology and hematology, we would have a CAE on that topic. 
  • PPI (persona progress  index): Multiple choice exams that you take 3x per year. They cover all material. You get "flagged" if you fall within certain standard deviations below your peers.  I think you have to be flagged twice for it to start to be a concern (not sure on this). 
  • And testing is relatively stress free at Mac. 
  • Cons
  • Anatomy: Felt there were a lot of learners per group at the Anatomy session making them a bit difficult. At Niagara it was a bit better in my opinion for anatomy. Mac is VERY open to feedback however, and even within our year there were some improvements.
  • Lectures given do not cover all the material for weekly tutorials. I am fine with this, but if you wanted to rely solely on lectures for learning you will have to find your own sources
  • Along with that, it takes a bit of a learning curve to figure out what sources you learn best with and how to get them. At the end of the day though, this is a useful skill that you'll have to learn eventually.
  • It is a 3 year program so there is more pressure to learn things the "first time around". You don't get a huge summer break to review material.

And for typical week:

 

  • Two 3 hour tutorial sessions (monday thursday/tuesday friday) where you discuss cases of the week. 
  • 2.5 hour clinical skills "tutorial" session. Learn physical exams, how to take patient's history etc.
  • 3h lectures monday/friday mornings (that I don't go to). Usually on topics discussed in tutorial.
  • 1.5h anatomy session thursday morning (that I try to go to). About the relevant organ systems.
  • 3h "professional competencies" lecture/tutorial session Tuesday morning. For lack of a better term, this is where you learn about "soft skills," and also check up on your group mates. You have the SAME group for pro comp the entirety of pre clerkship, so you get to know these people well.
  • Once in a while Wednesday mornings will have a mandatory activity. 

So as you can see, you can often have 3 day "weekends" if you skip lecture either monday/friday. Clin skills is often not scheduled Friday/Monday, but that depends on your preceptors.

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Hello all!

 

My name's Priscilla and I'm also a first year at NRC. I'm happy to add my opinions to those of Daegan and Victor, and can help answer questions too. Please note that my views do not reflect those of McMaster University or the Niagara Regional campus. :)

 

Hope all of you who interviewed today had a good experience, best of luck!

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@freewheeler

 

You've got some really great points there! 

 

Just wanted to jump in and say that with interest groups, yes, commuting can be a disadvantage. I've personally driven back to Hamilton (~50 minute drive) to volunteer with an event set up by an interest group (IG). However, you probably won't be driving around that much in order to participate in IG activities. Our lovely surgery IG's NRC rep was able to set up a suturing workshop for all of us here. (Quite often, Hamilton uses lottery to determine who gets spots for what, including their first suturing workshop). For other meetings, you can just skype or use google hangout. Other than Hamilton-based extracurriculars, you can definitely get involved in the Niagara community. Some of us are volunteering in clinics set up for migrant workers, or teaching a medical related topic to middle school students in the community. I'm sure there's plenty of opportunities in Waterloo too. Plus, committee positions that allow you to work with faculty (e.g. O-week, admissions, wellness, medical curriculum evaluation, clerkship, etc.) are lotteried during first year, and a lot of these committees require representation from the regional campuses. Bottom line, it's not a massive hurdle to get involved in IG stuff while being a regional campus student. :P

 

What else does NRC have to offer?

 

How about treadmill desks and free coffee in our student lounge? ;) If not that, then consider a very supportive and warm faculty who get to know you by name, easy involvement in PRIME (a quality improvement program focused on improving our medical curriculum), a brand new teaching hospital with sim labs just for us, and a community that welcomes medical students. Honestly, the Niagara region is under serviced and you'll find that both healthcare workers and patients are very receptive to having medical students learn in the hospitals and clinics. Aside from being under serviced, the region is also very diverse in terms of demographics and SES, so it's useful to get exposed to different environments. At the same time - and this applies to both regional campuses - I personally find it much easier to set up horizontal electives here than in Hamilton. Whereas I could only book one ER shift during MF1, I've been able to book five within two months since getting here. Niagara also has an electives coordinator who can send you contacts for different specialties you want to explore, to make things easier for you.

 

The Niagara region itself is pretty nice. Weather's not too different from Hamilton or Toronto. Downtown St. Catharines offers a farmer's market, nice cafes, pubs, and nightlife. You can go shopping at the Pen Centre, or watch an IceDogs game at the Meridian Centre. There's a beautiful waterfront in Port Dalhousie, trails on the escarpment, and the Butterfly Conservatory in Niagara Falls. Probably not worth mentioning on their own, but we do have small gems like a handmade ice cream shop, brunch spots, an amazing doughnut place, and an AYCE wings/bowling alley. And wineries!! There's a ton to explore around here.

 

Personal experience - I went to U of T for my undergrad, so I welcomed the change in pace and style of learning. I feel like I'm able to retain more from small group PBL sessions than from rote learning. One thing I'd like to mention is a pro/con - there's a lot of flexibility, so it's really up to you to spend time preparing for tutorials and electives. Since you're an independent learner, that means you'd appreciate the time you get to read up on tutorial objectives before discussing them in tutorial! This is also a con though, because the flexibility can be abused. Not saying I do that, but I like to be able to go home on a Friday if I don't have class. (It's about a 2 hour drive back to Toronto with traffic.) So far my experience at Mac has largely been positive, and I don't think you can really go wrong with any of the campuses.

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Hey everyone,

 

Important question.

 

How great is Rahat at the Niagara Regional Campus? Like, can you go into exquisite detail?

 

I've heard he's actually the best part of that campus, second only to the 27 other students and faculty and admin. Is this true?

 

Lastly, do you actually have a Fountain of Eternal Happiness and Joy at the Niagara Regional Campus?

 

#bestcampus

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  • Testing is fair. Basically, there is two testing methods:
  • CAEs (concept application exercises): 6 question, short answer test, an hour long. The tutorial leader marks the CAE, grading each q's on whether they are satisfactory. Tutorial leader uses the CAE in addition to their observation of you during tutorial sessions to see if you are moving along with the group. The CAEs are like "unit tests" which happen at the end of set of every section. So in MF1, we study respirology, cardiology, and hematology. At the end of each respirology, cardiology and hematology, we would have a CAE on that topic. 
  • PPI (persona progress  index): Multiple choice exams that you take 3x per year. They cover all material. You get "flagged" if you fall within certain standard deviations below your peers.  I think you have to be flagged twice for it to start to be a concern (not sure on this).

 

We also have OSCEs for clinical skills as well as examinations at the end of each core rotation during clerkship. But I believe this is the same as all Canadian medical schools.

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Probably not worth mentioning on their own, but we do have small gems like a handmade ice cream shop, brunch spots, an amazing doughnut place, and an AYCE wings/bowling alley. And wineries!! There's a ton to explore around here.

 

This is not true! The doughnuts at Beechwood downtown St. Catharines are definitely worth mentioning on their own! I live in Niagara currently, and doughnuts are a weekly tradition. It should be a major draw to those interested in NRC  :P

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Thanks for all the insight NRC-ers.

I've got 2 questions:

 

1. How are Niagra and Waterloo campuses interms of research? I have a background in wet-lab basic science research, and want to continue something in that stream (not so much patient survey-type research). Practically, would it make sense to attend anywhere but Hamilton?

 

2. Does anyone ever switch from Hamilton to one of the other campuses? Say my family moves to Waterloo during my 2nd year, would the admin allow me to move there?

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I can't really answer #1 because I don't know what the research environment is like in Waterloo or Niagara (Hamilton is great though!) but for #2, you cannot switch campuses. All of your tutorial groups, clinical skills, pro-comp groups, clerkship cores, electives, etc. are all dependent on your campus.

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Hi!

 

I was wondering how the opportunities are in Niagra re: quality improvement initiatives. I heard about PRIME in the orientation session (which sounds super intriguing) and I know Brock U has an amazing IHI OS chapter. Personally, in my home province, there's been a big "discord" between what it means to implement QI "practices" and what QI "research" is...so, I was wondering if any students can give me some examples of what QI looks like in the Niagra area, examples if anyone has gotten involved in any QI projects, and the atmosphere/culture surrounding QI in the hospitals.

 

Edit: also, is there a possibility of doing an enrichment year doing a QI project instead of research?

Thanks in advance! I was 100% dead set for ranking the Hamilton campus first, but now I'm not so sure. 

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Thanks for all the insight NRC-ers.

I've got 2 questions:

 

1. How are Niagra and Waterloo campuses interms of research? I have a background in wet-lab basic science research, and want to continue something in that stream (not so much patient survey-type research). Practically, would it make sense to attend anywhere but Hamilton?

 

2. Does anyone ever switch from Hamilton to one of the other campuses? Say my family moves to Waterloo during my 2nd year, would the admin allow me to move there?

From WRC perspective, we have no wet lab stuff happening. I did most of my research in Hamilton/Toronto.

 

2. You can not switch campuses no matter the reasons.

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