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Hey all! as an applicant and non-bc native looking to fill out the site preferences form pretty soon, i'm interested to hear thoughts on which site you would prefer, and why. Does going to one of the smaller locations limit your choice/options for residency in any way? thanks! 

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It depends on what you want! Your site really doesn't affect specialty selection in any way - shadowing may be slightly limited compared to Vancouver, but clerkship offers equal opportunity to explore specialties and pre-clerkship really has no bearing on CaRMS. 

From what little I know (my info is most accurate about IMP, my site):

Vancouver  

  • Great for having every shadowing opportunity in almost every niche specialty you can imagine.
  • Lots of technology. In anatomy lab, they have this 3D Sectra Anatomy Visualization Table and often radiology residents come in to walk you through a short 3D rendering/radiology session on the anatomy you are dissecting that day. Some people love it, others don't find it too helpful but it is cool to see
  • Clubs and leadership positions are abundant. There are still clubs and some class council leadership positions at distributed sites, but they are more limited.
  • The class size can be really overwhelming. I hated having >200 people in lecture hall and felt it was hard to get to know classmates or instructors and tutors. 
  • Housing is much much more expensive in Vancouver (although I heard that Kelowna was getting more expensive this year?)

General Distributed Site Info:

  • Having only 32 people in your class is amazing (in my opinion). Still big enough to find a group of friends where you connect and share a lot in common, but small enough that you know everyone at least a little bit.
  • In clinical skills, your groups are often smaller so you get more time and 1:1 instruction
  • You sometimes get more family practice visits (all sites are supposed to have 10 visits in second semester, but Vancouver was cut down to 5 because they couldn't get enough preceptors)
  • In clerkship, you supposedly get to do more stuff than clerks in Vancouver because you aren't competing with multiple residents and fellows who have seniority
  • Most lectures are done in Vancouver and video-conferanced to the sites. You can still ask questions to the lecturer in Vancouver over microphones. Some people don't like this, but I love it. Unless someone is asking a question, you're not really on camera so you can stretch or stand up during lecture if you need to. One time a classmate was really sore so she just sat down on her yoga mat and quietly stretched through the lecture
  • In lab, the ratio of tutors to students is usually much higher 
  • It can be stressful needing to move from Vancouver to your distributed site in December over the break

Victoria:

  • Best site in my personal opinion ;) 
  • In January after you arrive, the Victoria Medical Society hosts a ball at the Empress Hotel. Look it up. It is amazing. I have never eaten better food in my life.
  • We have a program called First Patient. In pairs, students are assigned a volunteer patient with a chronic health condition and spend 1 year getting to know them, attending their health care appointments with them, and learning what it is like to be a patient in the health care system, an experience many med school students haven't had (don't worry, you aren't doing more work than everyone else - they assign us slightly fewer family practice visits than other sites so it balances out)
  • The lab instructors organize comprehensive review sessions before lab exams. This does not happen at other sites. We supposedly always have the best lab averages and it is definitely less stressful. 
  • We are only a 1.5 hr ferry from Vancouver so you can go see your favourite band in concert and be back for class the next morning
  • The biggest disadvantage is in shadowing: there are no shadowing opportunities in ophthalmology, dermatology, anesthesia, or obstetrics/gynecology. Surgical shadowing is limited: you are only allowed one OR shadowing experience.
    • Furthermore, Victoria General and the Royal Jubilee Hospital (the only 2 major hospitals in Victoria) have a policy that you cannot be in an OR, even for shadowing, unless you have had scrub training. Unfortunately, we currently only receive the training in 2nd year before clerkship. The class of 2021 is trying to change this so that future classes receive training shortly after arriving in Victoria and can have their surgical shadowing experience during pre-clerkship. The only other opportunities might be if you can arrange shadowing in Cowichan or Nanaimo hospitals. 
    • If you are interested in any of these specialties and still want the IMP (or end up here), try to do some shadowing during your first semester in Vancouver before making the move in December. I honestly found that shadowing different specialties just once or twice gave me a lot of insight on whether I wanted to explore them further. Additionally, there is also the summer when you could do some shadowing in Vancouver if you wanted to. But you can only do so much shadowing and compared to some other med schools, UBC has a lot of clinical experiences and patient contact during pre-clerkship
  • We do a ski trip to Mt Washington and a surf trip to Tofino every year
  • Tons of nearby hiking and camping options 
  • Our anatomy lab has windows and a ventilation system to help with the smell. The Vancouver lab is in a basement with no windows and the ventilation is weak.

Some minimal info on the other distributed sites...

Kelowna: 

  • I have heard rumours that they have dogs at the university building where lectures are held. Stressed? Go pet a dog
  • they have ski trips up to Sun Peaks every year I believe

Prince George:

  • supposedly in clerkship you get to do extra double cool stuff because they are trying to get students invested in northern medicine so that the students love working in the north and stay after they graduate
  • cross country skiing?

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Sorry for potentially going too deep. I love my site, would not change my choice for any reason, but do think that the site representatives after the interview did a poor job of being honest and realistic of both benefits and drawbacks. I just want to help everyone make the informed choice that is right for them. 

If anyone has more info on Kelowna or Prince George or a different perspective on Vancouver and the island, let me know and I could edit my post to be one comprehensive overview for people to find easily. 

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I would choose Kelowna or Victoria, best of both worlds of smaller centre offerings and still big cities. They blow Vancouver out of the water - cheaper rent, a lot of unique opportunities that only avail it to a smaller site. You never have to worry about being 1.5hrs away for Family practice, or how far your clerkship will be.  VFMP is nice, but has its drawbacks too, theres never enough family preceptors, so quite a few people have to travel far, and same with clinical skills. The sites, as far as i know, have none of these issues.

As for shadowing, sure Vancouver will have more options - but sites will have all of the main ones, and in fact will actually likely let you do things(or do more) and be more willing to take you on as a shadower. Theres too many mouths to feed in Vancouver.  That said, majority of people don't shadow anyways, so its a non-issue. Some people get something out of shadowing, most don't - you're going to be spending an excess # of hours at the hospital in years 3/4 anyways. The nostalgia of standing in a corner for 4 hours doing nothing of real value wears off after the first  few times ;) 

If you don't have family or a spouse holding you to Vancouver, spread your wings and explore the other options too. 

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On February 6, 2018 at 4:20 AM, OwnerOfTheTARDIS said:

If anyone has more info on Kelowna or Prince George or a different perspective on Vancouver and the island, let me know and I could edit my post to be one comprehensive overview for people to find easily. 

This would be amazing!! If anyone could give the detailed feedback that you did above for the other sites, that would be great! I haven't had my interview yet, but I don't want to have to try to decide super last minute.

My current thoughts (from a pure lifestyle perspective since I don't know what's different in terms of teaching style) are:

Kelowna is in a beautiful area, has skiing and also has lakes (which I assume is are tad warmer than the Pacific) (I love water :P). Warmer summers and colder winters, both of which I prefer.

Victoria is also beautiful, is near Vancouver if I need to get into a bigger city, and has the ocean.

Vancouver is a big city of course, so I'm sure it has the most options for things to do. It also might have a curriculum advantage. Despite this, I have mixed feelings about huge cities and am unsure how I feel about 6 straight months of rain.

Am I right? Are there things I should add?

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2 hours ago, Comprehensible said:

This would be amazing!! If anyone could give the detailed feedback that you did above for the other sites, that would be great! I haven't had my interview yet, but I don't want to have to try to decide super last minute.

My current thoughts (from a pure lifestyle perspective since I don't know what's different in terms of teaching style) are:

Kelowna is in a beautiful area, has skiing and also has lakes (which I assume is are tad warmer than the Pacific) (I love water :P). Warmer summers and colder winters, both of which I prefer.

Victoria is also beautiful, is near Vancouver if I need to get into a bigger city, and has the ocean.

Vancouver is a big city of course, so I'm sure it has the most options for things to do. It also might have a curriculum advantage. Despite this, I'm not a fan of huge cities and am unsure how I feel about 6 straight months of rain.

Am I right? Are there things I should add?

I wouldn’t say Vancouver has a curriculum advantage, so I wouldn’t pick it just because of that. If you feel like Vancouver is too big for you and you don’t like the weather, then you really may be much happier at a site. 

If you’re concerned about getting shadowing experience in certain specialties that are only in Vancouver, there are still opportunities to do that — everyone is in Vancouver for first semester, and you can come to Vancouver for some flex time (6 week scholarship project in April/May of first year). You also have several months off after first year in the summer, and there’s so many people in VFMP that you should have no trouble making a couple friends you can stay with if you want to come out for a week or two and set up some shadowing.

The number of students at VFMP really feels like a disadvantage to me and my learning style. I am finding clinical skills sessions tough to get much out of with so many people in one group, so I think a smaller group size would be great. And it’s a bit frustrating to miss out on half our family practice sessions (5 / 10) because there aren’t enough preceptors. If I hadn’t been tied down to Vancouver, I probably would have picked a site and I think it would have suited me a better.

Edit: That said, I am still getting a lot out of the program, and overall VFMP is a great site to be at. My complaints about class size are not really about the program, but just about optimizing my personal learning preferences.

 

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3 hours ago, frenchpress said:

I wouldn’t say Vancouver has a curriculum advantage, so I wouldn’t pick it just because of that. If you feel like Vancouver is too big for you and you don’t like the weather, then you really may be much happier at a site. 

If you’re concerned about getting shadowing experience in certain specialties that are only in Vancouver, there are still opportunities to do that — everyone is in Vancouver for first semester, and you can come to Vancouver for some flex time (6 week scholarship project in April/May of first year). You also have several months off after first year in the summer, and there’s so many people in VFMP that you should have no trouble making a couple friends you can stay with if you want to come out for a week or two and set up some shadowing.

The number of students at VFMP really feels like a disadvantage to me and my learning style. I am finding clinical skills sessions tough to get much out of with so many people in one group, so I think a smaller group size would be great. And it’s a bit frustrating to miss out on half our family practice sessions (5 / 10) because there aren’t enough preceptors. If I hadn’t been tied down to Vancouver, I probably would have picked a site and I think it would have suited me a better.

Edit: That said, I am still getting a lot out of the program, and overall VFMP is a great site to be at. My complaints about class size are not really about the program, but just about optimizing my personal learning preferences.

 

I'm in a similar boat to what you seemed to be in when you applied - I'm somewhat tied to Vancouver but am not stoked on the idea of really large class sizes. Would you say that most lectures are done in-person in Vancouver and video-lectured to the distributed sites, or is it a fairly even split? I definitely learn better with an in-person lecturer so think that might be a bonus for me. Another question if you have any insight - I've heard it's harder for the VFMP students to get accepted into the ICC programs? I think this might give you the best of both worlds but have heard offhand that it's more difficult to get into if you're not at a distributed site..

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3 hours ago, casajayo said:

I'm in a similar boat to what you seemed to be in when you applied - I'm somewhat tied to Vancouver but am not stoked on the idea of really large class sizes. Would you say that most lectures are done in-person in Vancouver and video-lectured to the distributed sites, or is it a fairly even split? I definitely learn better with an in-person lecturer so think that might be a bonus for me. Another question if you have any insight - I've heard it's harder for the VFMP students to get accepted into the ICC programs? I think this might give you the best of both worlds but have heard offhand that it's more difficult to get into if you're not at a distributed site..

Definitely not an even split. 90% in Vancouver, the other 10% split between the three sites

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10 minutes ago, Comprehensible said:

Are the lectures recorded and posted, or just streamed live?

Streamed live (with surprisingly good technology - it doesn't feel as weird as expected) and then most recordings are posted online (I'd estimate 90%). The thing is each individual lecturer has to sign a form and consent to having their lecture posted online, a few don't want to do that. You can't know for sure whether a lecture will be recorded in advance, but you can look in the archives and if that same person already gave a recorded either earlier in the semester or a previous year, they will most likely be recorded again. 

Also if there is a guest patient involved in a lecture, it won't be recorded to protect their confidentiality. 

You can also re-watch the recordings on a higher speed (it's pretty easy to watch on 1.4 or 1.6 times speed, some people can do 2x speed but I can't personally) and get through them faster when you're doing review. 

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5 hours ago, casajayo said:

I'm in a similar boat to what you seemed to be in when you applied - I'm somewhat tied to Vancouver but am not stoked on the idea of really large class sizes. Would you say that most lectures are done in-person in Vancouver and video-lectured to the distributed sites, or is it a fairly even split? I definitely learn better with an in-person lecturer so think that might be a bonus for me. Another question if you have any insight - I've heard it's harder for the VFMP students to get accepted into the ICC programs? I think this might give you the best of both worlds but have heard offhand that it's more difficult to get into if you're not at a distributed site..

I haven’t found that having the lecturer there in person makes a huge difference. When we have presenters from the site the experience is about the same. 

The thing to keep in mind is that ubc med lectures are not like in most undergrad science programs, where you have one or two instructors organizing and running the class for the whole term. There’s a different instructor in charge of every curriculum week, and they rarely give more than one or two of the content lectures. In a typical week we have at least 8 different lecturers (I think we've had a couple weeks with as many as 15?!), and the quality varies IMMENSELY. Some are great, and so it’s nice to be able to run down and ask questions. But half the time there’s a huge line of people, especially when the lecturer is good - and so you rarely have time to have a real conversation with the lecturer about the topic anyways. Because the quality and value is so variable, attendance really varies (unless there’s a live patient, when I think a lot of us make an effort to be there). A lot of people rely pretty heavily on the lecture recordings.

I’d say the lab staff that you interact with regularly on site for things like anatomy and histology, as well as tutors for small-group sessions, will have a much larger bearing on how much you learn than the bulk of the lecturers. And I think there are good lab staff and tutors at every site.

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5 hours ago, casajayo said:

I'm in a similar boat to what you seemed to be in when you applied - I'm somewhat tied to Vancouver but am not stoked on the idea of really large class sizes. Would you say that most lectures are done in-person in Vancouver and video-lectured to the distributed sites, or is it a fairly even split? I definitely learn better with an in-person lecturer so think that might be a bonus for me. Another question if you have any insight - I've heard it's harder for the VFMP students to get accepted into the ICC programs? I think this might give you the best of both worlds but have heard offhand that it's more difficult to get into if you're not at a distributed site..

Sorry, I missed your ICC question before.

The ICC program does have some dedicated spots for the sites. A certain number of students from each site have to go to ICC, because they don't have enough spots for them in clerkship otherwise. Then the remaining sites are potentially available for VFMP students. I can't remember how many it is exactly -- I think about half? So that could potentially make it a bit more competitive for VFMP student.

But the popularity of the program in your year seems to have the biggest effect on how competitive it is. Two years ago I think the exact same number of people applied as there were spots, so it wasn't competitive at all. But this past year (for clerkship coming up in 2018), about twice as many people applied as there were spots, so very competitive. And I think I vaguely recall them saying that 3 years ago it was somewhere in the middle. So who knows how popular it will be in a couple of years? 

The program director also mentioned at the last info session that they were also looking at requiring that applicants to be willing to go to multiple sites, or changing the way they rank applicants to more fairly distribute successful applicants into their preferred ICC sites. So it's possible that if you're flexible you might be more likely to get into the program? But that's mostly just hearsay at this point.

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23 minutes ago, frenchpress said:

Sorry, I missed your ICC question before.

The ICC program does have some dedicated spots for the sites. A certain number of students from each site have to go to ICC, because they don't have enough spots for them in clerkship otherwise. Then the remaining sites are potentially available for VFMP students. I can't remember how many it is exactly -- I think about half? So that could potentially make it a bit more competitive for VFMP student.

But the popularity of the program in your year seems to have the biggest effect on how competitive it is. Two years ago I think the exact same number of people applied as there were spots, so it wasn't competitive at all. But this past year (for clerkship coming up in 2018), about twice as many people applied as there were spots, so very competitive. And I think I vaguely recall them saying that 3 years ago it was somewhere in the middle. So who knows how popular it will be in a couple of years? 

The program director also mentioned at the last info session that they were also looking at requiring that applicants to be willing to go to multiple sites, or changing the way they rank applicants to more fairly distribute successful applicants into their preferred ICC sites. So it's possible that if you're flexible you might be more likely to get into the program? But that's mostly just hearsay at this point.

Thank you for both your responses! They were very helpful and definitely clear things up a bit -  much appreciated!

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If in 3rd/4th year we are interested in some of the specialties that aren't available for shadowing at the IMP, would we still be able to get exposure in them to apply for residency?

And similarly to the IMP, are there shadowing limitations at the SMP? 

Also, how is the transit system at the IMP and SMP or do most students bike/drive around?

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7 hours ago, mr.smith said:

If in 3rd/4th year we are interested in some of the specialties that aren't available for shadowing at the IMP, would we still be able to get exposure in them to apply for residency?

And similarly to the IMP, are there shadowing limitations at the SMP? 

Also, how is the transit system at the IMP and SMP or do most students bike/drive around?

You have all of 4th year rotations as electives.

Seriously do not let shadowing determine your site. 90% of the class does not shadow. 

 

As with being able to walk down to ask lecturer questions, it was really only the same half a dozen people who rush down..again the vast majority do not run down to ask questions.  

 

 

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4 hours ago, JohnGrisham said:

You have all of 4th year rotations as electives.

Seriously do not let shadowing determine your site. 90% of the class does not shadow. 

 

As with being able to walk down to ask lecturer questions, it was really only the same half a dozen people who rush down..again the vast majority do not run down to ask questions.  

 

 

I was wondering if you felt that there is any noticeable disadvantage when applying to competitive specialties from one of the distributed sites since I've heard that it's not possible to get as much exposure prior to the carms deadline. Also, can I ask if UBC give elective time during the 3rd year? 

 

Thanks!

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Hopefully someone at a distributed site can answer this question (specifically island!) 

I’m wondering how many of the 32 people each year are actually from the island. I think I would really prefer the smaller setting, but I’m slightly concerned that as an OOP, I would get there and be the “odd one out,” so to speak. Can anyone shed light on what it’s like from a more social aspect? 

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13 hours ago, mr.smith said:

If in 3rd/4th year we are interested in some of the specialties that aren't available for shadowing at the IMP, would we still be able to get exposure in them to apply for residency?

And similarly to the IMP, are there shadowing limitations at the SMP? 

Also, how is the transit system at the IMP and SMP or do most students bike/drive around?

Shadowing is only for your benefit. It has almost zero impact on CaRMS applications and competitiveness. 

I’ve found transit perfectly adequate. About 5 people from my class bike, the rest seem to be fairly equally split in using transit versus having their own car.

1 hour ago, Galaxy123 said:

Hopefully someone at a distributed site can answer this question (specifically island!) 

I’m wondering how many of the 32 people each year are actually from the island. I think I would really prefer the smaller setting, but I’m slightly concerned that as an OOP, I would get there and be the “odd one out,” so to speak. Can anyone shed light on what it’s like from a more social aspect? 

My class of 32 has I think 3 from Ontario, 1 from the maritimes, and about 10 from Vancouver or Lower Mainland... so a little over half the class seems to be from the Island, but even they weren’t all from Victoria. People are from Comox, Nanaimo, Courtney, etc. 

I’m from Greater Vancouver and have never felt like an outsider. You get really close in Vancouver and then even closer once you all move to the island in January.

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Thanks to everyone contributing to this post - the info is super helpful, and has answered a lot of my questions. 

I have a question, does everyone who gets placed at a distributed site have the opportunity to visit the site in the semester before officially switching to the site in January?

Thanks again :) 

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9 hours ago, Koopatroopa said:

Thanks to everyone contributing to this post - the info is super helpful, and has answered a lot of my questions. 

I have a question, does everyone who gets placed at a distributed site have the opportunity to visit the site in the semester before officially switching to the site in January?

Thanks again :) 

Yeah! Around the first week of November, all of the distributed site students had an opportunity to go visit their site. The weekend is usually organized by the 2nd years who host 1st years at their homes so no one has to pay for a hotel, Friday night and Saturday are full of fun activities and evening parties, and Sunday is left free for people to view apartments and look for housing. If you ask, there is even usually a 2nd year happy to drive you around on Sunday if you need help getting around to see housing options.

The exact schedule I describe is approximate and could change year to year, but the site visit itself is very consistent. There is usually even funding split evenly between everyone attending their site visit to help keep ferry, drive, and flight costs down. 

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17 hours ago, yake said:

How does the ratio of students to preceptors compare at the VFMP vs IMP vs SMP? Do you get more exposure to clinical instructors at the satellite sites?

At VFMP (in first year) it’s about 6-8 students per group second semester, which is a drop of about ~1 person from first semester (after people left for the sites). Our clinical skills groups are 6-7, and case-based learning groups and other small groups are usually ~8. At family practice visits we’re either on our own or paired with one other person.

I’ll let others confirm for the sites. My impression was that it ranges from similar ratios to less students per instructor depending on the site and activity.

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8 hours ago, frenchpress said:

At VFMP (in first year) it’s about 6-8 students per group second semester, which is a drop of about ~1 person from first semester (after people left for the sites). Our clinical skills groups are 6-7, and case-based learning groups and other small groups are usually ~8. At family practice visits we’re either on our own or paired with one other person.

I’ll let others confirm for the sites. My impression was that it ranges from similar ratios to less students per instructor depending on the site and activity.

It drops to 4 students/instructor in IMP clinical skills. They try to keep all family practice placements 1:1. 

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