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Which Med Schools Use Pass/fail System?

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Which med schools in Canada use pass/fail grades as opposed to percentages/letter grades?

 

I personally think pass/fail is a better system. Everyone who has gotten into med school is already qualified, there's no need for further competition and stress.

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Which med schools in Canada use pass/fail grades as opposed to percentages/letter grades?

 

I personally think pass/fail is a better system. Everyone who has gotten into med school is already qualified, there's no need for further competition and stress.

 

the vast majority do.

 

the system does have advantages - I will point out though it is not perfect. Now without grades there is no easy way at all to figure out better students for residency positions. That means that med students end up doing (for competitive things at least) a lot of proxy activities trying to show what used to be obvious from the transcript. None of those proxy things (like research or leadership actives, or electives....) are quantifiable, take up often a ton of time, and aren't really directly related to being good at medicine (which arguably the older grade system was). It also mean the residency selection is a lot more arbitrary and many aspects of it are outside of your control (who knows what they really want - or how to ensure you have it).  Not knowing what they want means you often have to work harder to get more of everything in the hopes to end up with something.

 

Basically the pass/fail system greatly reduces initial stress but there is a backend to it where it can be very stressful as a result. You mention there is no further need for competition and stress - but that is exactly what the residency selection system is (and has to be with limited spots) - a competitive, stressful system where not everyone gets what/where they want. Except now you are competing with people that actually made it in to medical school (ie. very hard working smart people).

 

My point I guess is don't think the competition/stress is going away. It isn't - and there are further points of stress/competition later on as well for fellowships and then the job market. Nothing about that is terrible, and this isn't a doom and gloom picture. I just don't think that people underestimate the disadvantages of a pass/fail system (on of the best ways to increase stress is to make unclear targets and no way to see if you are making progress).

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interesting, i didn't think of it that way.

 

Would you say that this true for Family Medicine residencies as well or just the specialties? (ie. the competitiveness)

 

not so much for family medicine - but then again under the old system there was also still not a lot of stress to achieve super high grades for family medicine either :)

 

 Not that they wanted poor students either - not saying that. But on in the grade system if you didn't get honours in your surgery block or whatever it wasn't a big deal. Under a grade system for some competitive things you are trying to get honours for everything.

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Conversation I've had more than a few times:

"Should I do research?"

"What are you interested in?"

"Rural family is my first choice."

"Pfffft. No. Don't bother."

(I'm interested in other specialties too, for the record.)

 

As rmorelan points out, there's a whole different type of stress that starts once you get in. Its not so concerning in preclerkship, which is why I've been enjoying this phase of my education so much. But with clerkship looming just a few months away (two weeks after my youngest daughter is due to be born) I'm starting to stress quite a great deal about doing the 'right' mix of electives at the right times at the right places. Then there's the challenge of actually securing electives, which seems to involve mostly a lot of luck and hope. And there's a lot of contradictory advice, and so few solid answers about what we SHOULD be doing to meet our career goals.

 

The lack of grades doesnt alleviate as much stress as the ambiguous nature of residency applications adds. In some ways, it'd be nice to just have grades so I would have some idea where I stand. Instead, I'm looking at my somewhat limited CV, the difficulty I'm having around electives planning, and basically experiencing the same sort of panic I had before I applied to med school, and I've still got 17 months before I apply to CaRMS.

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Which med schools in Canada use pass/fail grades as opposed to percentages/letter grades?

 

I personally think pass/fail is a better system. Everyone who has gotten into med school is already qualified, there's no need for further competition and stress.

 

I think all English med schools use P/F or P/F/H.  Only the French school (UdeM, Laval, Sherbrooke) use letter grades.

 

As rmorelan points out, there are pros and cons to the P/F system.  

 

Pro: less stress for a group of ultra high-strung type A students.  There are enough students suffering mental breakdowns and crying in bathrooms without the stress of grades.

Con: How to residency programs differentiate between student who worked hard all throughout med school vs student who barely scraped by?  Everybody's got the same P on their transcript.  Put it another way, how do you stand out when applying to competitive residency programs when everyone looks the same on paper?

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Sometimes this comes down to elective performance, where the student can be assessed firsthand -- but obviously, it is not possible to do an away elective at each program that one is interested in, and can lead to not being considered as highly at those programs. Otherwise, it comes down to clerkship evaluation comments and reference letters, which pose their own issues in terms of subjectivity.

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Sometimes this comes down to elective performance, where the student can be assessed firsthand -- but obviously, it is not possible to do an away elective at eachprogram that one is interested in, and can lead to not being considered as highly at those programs. Otherwise, it comes down to clerkship evaluation comments and reference letters, which pose their own issues in terms of subjectivity.

 

elective performance for sure - and that can still be a bit random. As we all know ha, on electives you may or may not know about the particular condition your confronted with. If you happen to you can look like a superstar. If you don't then you feel like an idiot. You aren't going to know everything for sure at that stage.

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I think the US schools strike an intermediate route.  Some schools are P/F, but  MLEs must be done by all students, which provide a so-called objective measure.  Personally, I'm at a French med school and view overcoming the language barrier to have been one of the single greatest challenges in my life, and my grades reflect that challenge.  I also feel that there is a difference between working hard every day and having great grades, at least where I am - they are related, but not identical.  Exam proficiency is not just about smarts and knowledge it's also about tactics, etc..  A student then may have great grades, and subsequent evaluation or dedication to a field may not be as important.        

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Conversation I've had more than a few times:

"Should I do research?"

"What are you interested in?"

"Rural family is my first choice."

"Pfffft. No. Don't bother."

(I'm interested in other specialties too, for the record.)

 

As rmorelan points out, there's a whole different type of stress that starts once you get in. Its not so concerning in preclerkship, which is why I've been enjoying this phase of my education so much. But with clerkship looming just a few months away (two weeks after my youngest daughter is due to be born) I'm starting to stress quite a great deal about doing the 'right' mix of electives at the right times at the right places. Then there's the challenge of actually securing electives, which seems to involve mostly a lot of luck and hope. And there's a lot of contradictory advice, and so few solid answers about what we SHOULD be doing to meet our career goals.

 

The lack of grades doesnt alleviate as much stress as the ambiguous nature of residency applications adds. In some ways, it'd be nice to just have grades so I would have some idea where I stand. Instead, I'm looking at my somewhat limited CV, the difficulty I'm having around electives planning, and basically experiencing the same sort of panic I had before I applied to med school, and I've still got 17 months before I apply to CaRMS.

 

some of the advise isn't so much contradictory (although it can still be that as well) as simply that each school will have different criteria and goals - and those can be quite different. I have had honest conversations with multiple PDs all giving very different advise for the exact same fields. It is hard to be optimal for all when now there is no common standard (ie grades) to work with.

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Out of curiosity, are students at schools that use a grading system (ie French schools), disadvantaged when applying to residency/CARMS compared to P/F schools if your grade is not that great?

 

For example: Someone with a 51% at a French school may be looked at more negatively compared to a student with a Pass grade at an English school (even though theoretically both students may of had the same grade if both schools used a graded system but a PD would not see that).

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Out of curiosity, are students at schools that use a grading system (ie French schools), disadvantaged when applying to residency/CARMS compared to P/F schools if your grade is not that great?

 

For example: Someone with a 51% at a French school may be looked at more negatively compared to a student with a Pass grade at an English school (even though theoretically both students may of had the same grade if both schools used a graded system but a PD would not see that).

 

It might vary from school to school but someone I know who was on the selection committee for choosing residents for program X at McGill told that they are not supposed to look at the letter/numerical grade received when evaluating students from the schools that use this system, in order to make things comparable between candidates. However, subconsciously it can play a role  in the evaluation of the file.

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It might vary from school to school but someone I know who was on the selection committee for choosing residents for program X at McGill told that they are not supposed to look at the letter/numerical grade received when evaluating students from the schools that use this system, in order to make things comparable between candidates. However, subconsciously it can play a role  in the evaluation of the file.

 

I am sure if it is available some schools will use it - a lot of places are not exactly happy they no longer have grades to work with (there are research articles on its effects actually).

 

it is interesting that the province of Quebec stuck with the old system - more politics I am sure :)

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37 minutes ago, WeDayDream said:

Can someone explain what the pass/fail system means for CARMS? For example, if I apply to Ortho, the committee only sees a pass? What else do they see in terms of academics?

Academic awards & scholarships etc. Eg, if you got dean’s honours then that would be noted on top of just the Ps

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30 minutes ago, WeDayDream said:

Thank you. We'll see if I'm still gunning for those, is it worth it? 

Short answer is no. You get a better bang for your time by doing other things than aiming for dean's honours imo. Rest & relaxation, research, hobbies, etc. Know your stuff, but don't stress over being on the honour roll or not.

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