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ilovefood

Commuting vs living near campus?

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Hi everyone,  

I've been lurking this forum for years and find you all to be so helpful so I figured I'd post this here (hope it's in the right spot). I'm an incoming Med-1 at McGill (YAY) and wanted other people's input on commuting vs living close to campus. My commute is ~2.5 hours/day roundtrip and I've been doing it for 5 years now (been at McGill for awhile haha). I'm getting really fed up with wasting so much time commuting and I'd really love to move close to campus this fall. However, I would be paying for rent/groceries/bills/tuition/everything completely on my own. I currently contribute a lot around the house (cook for the family, do my own laundry, clean, etc) so living alone really wouldn't be a huge adjustment for me - I'm just terrified of the debt I'm going to incur if I do so. I've managed to pay off my debt from undergrad but if I do move this fall my expenses will be:  

Tuition: $23,000 over 4 years Living expenses: ~$1200 month for rent/utilities/phone/food/transportation/all other unexpected expenses x 4 years = ~$60,00  

I've maxed out my Quebec government aid so in total I'll likely be hovering around 100k in debt by graduation. I know this isn't unreasonable for a lot of med students, especially those attending school in Toronto or Vancouver, but I just don't know if it makes sense to go into this much debt as a Quebec resident who can theoretically stay at home and who would have absolutely zero parental contribution in paying for all these expenses. I just don't think I can continue wasting ~15 hours commuting per week and I think moving closer to school would really help my social life as well.   I would really appreciate any input from people who have moved out for med school, especially those who were in similar financial circumstances. Was it worth it, do you wish you had stayed home to save money, etc.  

P.S. sorry for being that annoying Quebec resident who complains about education expenses, I've just grown up surrounded by very real financial insecurity and my biggest fear is for me (and my future family) to end up in the same situation :'(    

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Hi fellow soon to be classmate :) While I'm not in a position to debate the pros/cons of living at home vs on your own, I did think about this problem. 

Spending about an hour commuting one way isn't too unreasonable but if you find you can't be productive during that time, you'll feel miserable. Yes the schedule for med can be a bit more leniant with optional morning classes, but if you want to schedule other activities during the day, you'll go home very tired. There's other threads about commuting on the forums you can take a look at.

Financially, remember that you can have a line of credit worth 275k. I know you don't want to use it if possible, but it is an investment for your future or current well being, however you can to see it. Since you say you'd pay for most living expenses other than rent even if you stayed at home, the increase in cost of moving is just the 1200 per month. Does that upgrade seem manageable? Also, if you do decide to move out you can find a roommate to lower the rent. 

Let's say you moved out and didn't find the benefits were worth the cost. With a bit of hassle selling your furniture, you can always move back in! That experiment would cost 10k but you would've already saved the transit time for that year. 

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I strongly encourage you to live as close to med school as possible. Honestly, dimanches, debt forvdoing this should not be a consideration. You don’t want to waste time and energy commuting when it is important to put both to much better use. I’m now a resident in Auebec carrying $200,000 in LOC debt and it is entirely manageable and is not a heavy weight on my shoulders. I paid my way with student debt during Cégep, undergrad and med school, including rent etc during med school and beyond. The trade off of having debt to live closer should not be a serious consideration for you. I needed al” my time to study during med s hood and l lived virtually on the doorstep of med school. In fact not only did I not commute, I skipped virtually all lectures as we got the notes anyhow, and ai used my time that would have been in lectures as a self-learner studying far more effectively. I would not have been able to cope with such a daily commute and med school, but we each are different in our outlook and capacities. 

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Congratulations on your acceptance! As a mother-of-two who has commuted 2 to 2.5 hours a day to McGill for the past 2 years for  med school, I would say it is very doable. Lectures are recorded so I rarely attended morning classes. I would come to school 3 or 4 times a week for small groups or Anatomy labs. I would use my commute time to listen to lectures and found I was able to keep up. The downside is I sometimes had to miss social events but that was more because of family responsibilities more than anything else. Now that I have started rotations, I would say the commute is more tiring because of the longer days (more hours at the hospital) and it would be much more ideal to be closer, but for the first 1.5 years of med school, commuting is very doable if you are organized with your time. For me, since I had no choice but to commute, I looked at it as my study time, rather than wasted time. Feel free to PM me if you have more questions.

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Regarding the fear of ending up with too much debt and not being able to pay it back, as long as you speak French, it is nearly impossible not to get a residency as a Quebec medical student. Also, being a medical student means you have access to disability insurance which means you're good even if something happens with regards to your health.

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Holy fuck do not commute 2.5 hours a day. That's literally 5 months of commuting over your 4 years of medical school. Your amount of debt will not be that high at all, especially as you will be paying about 1/4 the overall tuition vs elsewhere in the country. Get a line of credit, get an apartment as close to campus/hospitals as possible, use that extra 2.5 hours a day to either study and do better in medical school or relax and not hate medical school.

Also it is super dangerous to drive more than an hour post-call with little sleep...

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There is also the risk that you will spend so much time travelling that you will lose out on the ability to do all the other thing needed to get a particular specialty of choice - you may not know what that even is going to be yet (it would be odd if you did actually). 

Not completely sure how clerkship works there either but that can play a lot of games with commuting as well.

As medMamma pointed out above as well this isn't an all or nothing event as well, and you see how it all works out. If you do decide to commute initially I was say be flexible enough in your thinking that if it isn't working you just go get a place. The most important financial decision you can make as a medical student is making sure you actually learn medicine and get the specialty of choice. That is vastly more important than 50-100K. 

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10 minutes ago, bearded frog said:

Holy fuck do not commute 2.5 hours a day. That's literally 5 months of commuting over your 4 years of medical school. Your amount of debt will not be that high at all, especially as you will be paying about 1/4 the overall tuition vs elsewhere in the country. Get a line of credit, get an apartment as close to campus/hospitals as possible, use that extra 2.5 hours a day to either study and do better in medical school or relax and not hate medical school.

Also it is super dangerous to drive more than an hour post-call with little sleep...

I heard Quebec clerk calls are limited to max 16 hours, unlike ROC. The 24-hour in-house call model no longer exists in Quebec. McGill, like other Quebec medical schools, has modified clerk duty hour policies to reflect changes in resident duty hours. Thus, McGill students are no longer expected to work more than 16 consecutive hours.

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45 minutes ago, lmck said:

I heard Quebec clerk calls are limited to max 16 hours, unlike ROC. The 24-hour in-house call model no longer exists in Quebec. McGill, like other Quebec medical schools, has modified clerk duty hour policies to reflect changes in resident duty hours. Thus, McGill students are no longer expected to work more than 16 consecutive hours.

yeah but that skill leave you in serious trouble. As an outsider it is hard to keep up with some of their changes but you would have originally a 8 hour gap between shifts. Well if you have a 2.5 hour commute where does that leave you? Even if the gap is longer you are still going to have a rough time of it (even if it goes perfectly you can imagine driving home in the Winter after 16 hours in quite an exhausted state - and driving back without effective rest. Now imagine doing that for month after month while trying to study and put your on your best impression all the time.) The problem with residency and clerkship is not having to so something draining once or twice, it is doing it over and over, month after month, year after year......

If I was commuting I would actually prefer the 24 hour model - you then sleep for a bit in the call room, get the next day off so travelling home is no issue and then come back the next day. The 16 hour thing always looked a bit like a trap.

Another side note - if there surgery start times as like ours that commute would not be fun. It was pre 6am here so you have to leave at 4:30am to make sure you get there? Done at 6 so you are home by err 8pm? 

 

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30 minutes ago, rmorelan said:

yeah but that skill leave you in serious trouble. As an outsider it is hard to keep up with some of their changes but you would have originally a 8 hour gap between shifts. Well if you have a 2.5 hour commute where does that leave you? Even if the gap is longer you are still going to have a rough time of it (even if it goes perfectly you can imagine driving home in the Winter after 16 hours in quite an exhausted state - and driving back without effective rest. Now imagine doing that for month after month while trying to study and put your on your best impression all the time.) The problem with residency and clerkship is not having to so something draining once or twice, it is doing it over and over, month after month, year after year......

If I was commuting I would actually prefer the 24 hour model - you then sleep for a bit in the call room, get the next day off so travelling home is no issue and then come back the next day. The 16 hour thing always looked a bit like a trap.

Another side note - if there surgery start times as like ours that commute would not be fun. It was pre 6am here so you have to leave at 4:30am to make sure you get there? Done at 6 so you are home by err 8pm? 

 

Fair point. It would still suck regardless if it's 16 or 24 and commuting would definitely cut into rest time. 

One other difference I had come across: generally, the maximum call frequency observed across Canadian faculties was 1 in 4 call (7 calls per 28-day period), with the exception of McGill University with a maximum of 1 in 4.7 (6 calls per 28-day period). I guess McGill has it just slightly better, but not really noticeable in the long-term. 

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1 hour ago, lmck said:

Fair point. It would still suck regardless if it's 16 or 24 and commuting would definitely cut into rest time. 

One other difference I had come across: generally, the maximum call frequency observed across Canadian faculties was 1 in 4 call (7 calls per 28-day period), with the exception of McGill University with a maximum of 1 in 4.7 (6 calls per 28-day period). I guess McGill has it just slightly better, but not really noticeable in the long-term. 

that is interesting that it is set higher there!

Although I guess I should say that just because it can be 1 in 4 doesn't mean that often occurs in MOST specialties (ha, but yeah it does in some). I am just pulling out of Ottawa here but most are doing 5 to 6 call per block (28 days) at most which is actually the same. The trouble with the PARO contract in general (and it goes for any province) is that is has to do everything for all fields and be consistent. The max is the max for all, even if all the various specialties have different priorities - it means the rules have more flexibility than really needed for most programs. Now if call is extremely important in your program for learning then even the residents are pushing for the max amount. Ha, obvious surgery comes to mind and it could be argued that while of course they have reading they have to do etc, their need for shear book study time is less than say internal medicine. You bury a rad resident in 7 call shifts every year of the program and we simply won't pass our exam. All the fields are not the same, even if every single one of them demands hard work and lots of time from their residents. You have to careful if you are focusing on one part of the residency experience and thinking if you just fix that all things will be solved. For instance a lot of places in NA that cut the shifts to 16 hours just ended up with everyone doing more shifts because and this is the bottom line - the work had to be done by someone and there are only so many people. The issue I think is not the shift length so much as the shear overall number of hours. There is no way to work 80-90 hour stressful work weeks for years and expect anyone to be "well" (no matter how many wellness talks they schedule). 

 

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8 hours ago, rmorelan said:

that is interesting that it is set higher there!

Although I guess I should say that just because it can be 1 in 4 doesn't mean that often occurs in MOST specialties (ha, but yeah it does in some). I am just pulling out of Ottawa here but most are doing 5 to 6 call per block (28 days) at most which is actually the same. The trouble with the PARO contract in general (and it goes for any province) is that is has to do everything for all fields and be consistent. The max is the max for all, even if all the various specialties have different priorities - it means the rules have more flexibility than really needed for most programs. Now if call is extremely important in your program for learning then even the residents are pushing for the max amount. Ha, obvious surgery comes to mind and it could be argued that while of course they have reading they have to do etc, their need for shear book study time is less than say internal medicine. You bury a rad resident in 7 call shifts every year of the program and we simply won't pass our exam. All the fields are not the same, even if every single one of them demands hard work and lots of time from their residents. You have to careful if you are focusing on one part of the residency experience and thinking if you just fix that all things will be solved. For instance a lot of places in NA that cut the shifts to 16 hours just ended up with everyone doing more shifts because and this is the bottom line - the work had to be done by someone and there are only so many people. The issue I think is not the shift length so much as the shear overall number of hours. There is no way to work 80-90 hour stressful work weeks for years and expect anyone to be "well" (no matter how many wellness talks they schedule). 

 

Well-said rmorelan :) I find that the best way to reduce residents' burnout is to reduce the number of working calls & number of calls. It would be difficult to maintain a good balance between professional & personal life, when you do 1 in 4 calls with research & educational requirements. 

The PGME usually provides wellness resources, but the best way to solve the problem would be addressing the working conditions of residents. Just my two cents

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6 hours ago, LittleDaisy said:

Well-said rmorelan :) I find that the best way to reduce residents' burnout is to reduce the number of working calls & number of calls. It would be difficult to maintain a good balance between professional & personal life, when you do 1 in 4 calls with research & educational requirements. 

The PGME usually provides wellness resources, but the best way to solve the problem would be addressing the working conditions of residents. Just my two cents

The issue with any idea about reducing resident calls is the calls still need to be covered. So you need to hire an NP or physician assistant or something to do that. Fat chance of any academic physician ever taking first call. The academic specialists would never accept it (they became academics partly to have resident servants, I mean learners) and the ER would never accept it (it's a lot harder to dump crap consults on to a staff).

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1 hour ago, NLengr said:

The issue with any idea about reducing resident calls is the calls still need to be covered. So you need to hire an NP or physician assistant or something to do that. Fat chance of any academic physician ever taking first call. The academic specialists would never accept it (they became academics partly to have resident servants, I mean learners) and the ER would never accept it (it's a lot harder to dump crap consults on to a staff).

ER wouldn't accepted it ? :) They are begging for it over here at Ottawa. I mean seems like it is the only song they know how to play - and they are progressively gaining ground too. For rads at least many places in the country are going 24/7 now - and yeah the academic docs have put of a fight but in the end they lose. Not just radiology either - internal medicine is another area where 24 staff coverage is popping up.  

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On 5/5/2018 at 6:06 PM, ilovefood said:

Hi everyone,  

I've been lurking this forum for years and find you all to be so helpful so I figured I'd post this here (hope it's in the right spot). I'm an incoming Med-1 at McGill (YAY) and wanted other people's input on commuting vs living close to campus. My commute is ~2.5 hours/day roundtrip and I've been doing it for 5 years now (been at McGill for awhile haha). I'm getting really fed up with wasting so much time commuting and I'd really love to move close to campus this fall. However, I would be paying for rent/groceries/bills/tuition/everything completely on my own. I currently contribute a lot around the house (cook for the family, do my own laundry, clean, etc) so living alone really wouldn't be a huge adjustment for me - I'm just terrified of the debt I'm going to incur if I do so. I've managed to pay off my debt from undergrad but if I do move this fall my expenses will be:  

Tuition: $23,000 over 4 years Living expenses: ~$1200 month for rent/utilities/phone/food/transportation/all other unexpected expenses x 4 years = ~$60,00  

I've maxed out my Quebec government aid so in total I'll likely be hovering around 100k in debt by graduation. I know this isn't unreasonable for a lot of med students, especially those attending school in Toronto or Vancouver, but I just don't know if it makes sense to go into this much debt as a Quebec resident who can theoretically stay at home and who would have absolutely zero parental contribution in paying for all these expenses. I just don't think I can continue wasting ~15 hours commuting per week and I think moving closer to school would really help my social life as well.   I would really appreciate any input from people who have moved out for med school, especially those who were in similar financial circumstances. Was it worth it, do you wish you had stayed home to save money, etc.  

P.S. sorry for being that annoying Quebec resident who complains about education expenses, I've just grown up surrounded by very real financial insecurity and my biggest fear is for me (and my future family) to end up in the same situation :'(    

Social life and moving out is so important to your growth as a person. You will have a good income one day, you will never get your mid 20s back. At least that's how I justify it to myself :P 

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On ‎5‎/‎5‎/‎2018 at 6:06 PM, ilovefood said:

Hi everyone,  

I've been lurking this forum for years and find you all to be so helpful so I figured I'd post this here (hope it's in the right spot). I'm an incoming Med-1 at McGill (YAY) and wanted other people's input on commuting vs living close to campus. My commute is ~2.5 hours/day roundtrip and I've been doing it for 5 years now (been at McGill for awhile haha). I'm getting really fed up with wasting so much time commuting and I'd really love to move close to campus this fall. However, I would be paying for rent/groceries/bills/tuition/everything completely on my own. I currently contribute a lot around the house (cook for the family, do my own laundry, clean, etc) so living alone really wouldn't be a huge adjustment for me - I'm just terrified of the debt I'm going to incur if I do so. I've managed to pay off my debt from undergrad but if I do move this fall my expenses will be:  

Tuition: $23,000 over 4 years Living expenses: ~$1200 month for rent/utilities/phone/food/transportation/all other unexpected expenses x 4 years = ~$60,00  

I've maxed out my Quebec government aid so in total I'll likely be hovering around 100k in debt by graduation. I know this isn't unreasonable for a lot of med students, especially those attending school in Toronto or Vancouver, but I just don't know if it makes sense to go into this much debt as a Quebec resident who can theoretically stay at home and who would have absolutely zero parental contribution in paying for all these expenses. I just don't think I can continue wasting ~15 hours commuting per week and I think moving closer to school would really help my social life as well.   I would really appreciate any input from people who have moved out for med school, especially those who were in similar financial circumstances. Was it worth it, do you wish you had stayed home to save money, etc.  

P.S. sorry for being that annoying Quebec resident who complains about education expenses, I've just grown up surrounded by very real financial insecurity and my biggest fear is for me (and my future family) to end up in the same situation :'(    

You need to accept that you will end up in debt.  Living that far away may not be bad at certain times, but you will no longer be able to "quickly" get to your med school.  Whether you admit it now or not, it will decrease the things you will attend.  Popping in for a 45 minute research meeting is a lot different when you live 5 mins away vs over an hour.  Also, if youre ever on a rotation where theres home call--it will be a disaster.

No one has ever wished they stayed home with their parents and commuted 2.5 hours a day to save money.  Quite the opposite.  Its an awful idea.  Is the real issue you find it difficult telling your parents?  Just tell them you pretty much "have" to be closer, which is largely true.

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9 hours ago, rmorelan said:

ER wouldn't accepted it ? :) They are begging for it over here at Ottawa. I mean seems like it is the only song they know how to play - and they are progressively gaining ground too. For rads at least many places in the country are going 24/7 now - and yeah the academic docs have put of a fight but in the end they lose. Not just radiology either - internal medicine is another area where 24 staff coverage is popping up.  

Is that a situation where the staff is doing call solo or do they still have the slaves doing the heavy lifting during the call?

It's very different to do solo call alone as a staff than it is to do staff call with a resident protecting you from the crap. 

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4 minutes ago, NLengr said:

Is that a situation where the staff is doing call solo or do they still have the slaves doing the heavy lifting during the call?

It's very different to do solo call alone as a staff than it is to do staff call with a resident protecting you from the crap. 

well I am not sure - sounds like a bit of both. I mean with rads at 2 major centres (TO and UBC), and soon others (following what is now a common US model) the staff is there at the work station at all times 24/7, but there is also a resident there as well. There isn't any resident shielding in the sense of call me if you need me - but they do both work together on the cases. There is a good response reported by the emerg in both cases - they hate having to deal with QA issues the next day when the resident made a mistakes etc, want final reports that are complete, and are more comfortable with the quality produced. There isn't much downside for them here.  Reports are expected to be finalized by staff in a very timely manner. Ha, welcome to the future of radiology at an academic centre. Again been that way for some time in the US - honestly not sure how we are getting away anywhere with some PGY2 making solo life and death decisions in the middle of the night after being up for 20 hours. The only reason I think that as lasted as long as it has is the public doesn't really know how things work - sounds like a lawsuit wanting to happen. Also our IR and NIR teams are direct report to staff at all times (they by pass the residents completely). 

We had one team at Ottawa that was direct to staff report for internal etc - although that isn't may area so I haven't been following it. 

I am not trying to oversell this ha. But I think we are seeing more and more "feature creep" as time goes on. Emerg doesn't care much about other services lifestyle and staffing issues - they want it all and they want it now. Also long as the hospital funding is based on that in some fashion they have a great trump card to play on top of the patient care issues.

 

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1 hour ago, rmorelan said:

well I am not sure - sounds like a bit of both. I mean with rads at 2 major centres (TO and UBC), and soon others (following what is now a common US model) the staff is there at the work station at all times 24/7, but there is also a resident there as well. There isn't any resident shielding in the sense of call me if you need me - but they do both work together on the cases. There is a good response reported by the emerg in both cases - they hate having to deal with QA issues the next day when the resident made a mistakes etc, want final reports that are complete, and are more comfortable with the quality produced. There isn't much downside for them here.  Reports are expected to be finalized by staff in a very timely manner. Ha, welcome to the future of radiology at an academic centre. Again been that way for some time in the US - honestly not sure how we are getting away anywhere with some PGY2 making solo life and death decisions in the middle of the night after being up for 20 hours. The only reason I think that as lasted as long as it has is the public doesn't really know how things work - sounds like a lawsuit wanting to happen. Also our IR and NIR teams are direct report to staff at all times (they by pass the residents completely). 

We had one team at Ottawa that was direct to staff report for internal etc - although that isn't may area so I haven't been following it. 

I am not trying to oversell this ha. But I think we are seeing more and more "feature creep" as time goes on. Emerg doesn't care much about other services lifestyle and staffing issues - they want it all and they want it now. Also long as the hospital funding is based on that in some fashion they have a great trump card to play on top of the patient care issues.

 

Rads is kind of different than most specialties for the ER though. You need the imaging to make a diagnosis so that you can decide on a treatment plan. It makes some sense to have staff on overnight.

The dumping I am talking about is the midnight call for stuff that in the community would wait till 8 am or be managed completely by the ER doc alone (stable kidney stone, minor lacerations, stable pyelo etc). Specialty staff will never tolerate the kind of crap academic ERs foist on the residents. If you have surgery or IM staff covering the pager solo, I guarantee that ER would be holding a ton more pages till 8 am or dealing with things themselves (if not you'd have specialists ripping into ER docs non stop).

After seeing what my ER docs handle by themselves here in the community, I sometimes joke that the academic ER at my residency and fellowship sites was little more than a switchboard for calling specialists in for help. 

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