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I know this has been asked before in the past few years, but do want to hear some more recent opinions. Both schools are great (U of T is my undergrad, closer to home).

What do you guys think? What are some factors I should consider? Thank you in advance!

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Any school in Canada is great, but I would generally advise anybody to go with a 4 year program over a 3 year program, if they have a choice unless you are completely set on your specialty at this point. Specifically for U of T vs. Mac, you also want to consider if you prefer self-directed learning/PBL since that is the primary method of education at Mac whereas U of T has more of a mix of things. You also should consider whether you want to stay in Toronto or would prefer Hamilton (or whatever campus you're at for Mac). One benefit of Mac is that there are likely fewer learners at the hospitals you would be in so you might get better hands on experience through Mac. Ultimately, I would probably go with U of T in your situation (though I actually go to a different med school), but I'm sure people have things to add that might affect your decision.

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If you don't have a good reason already to go to McMaster, I would choose UofT.

1. 3 vs 4 yr curriculum - Unless you are rushing to get out, a 4 year program gives you time to explore specialties. Do not underestimate how tough a 3 year program can be on your wellbeing, doing med school without breaks is not without challenges and sacrifices.

2. Mixed vs PBL - UofT has the better curriculum especially since it has updated it to include some PBL, the Mac pre-clerkship is essentially do whatever you want, very little contact time and very little direction, you don't know what is important or not important to study, people just end up reading Toronto Notes for tutorials

3. Toronto vs Hamilton - Up to you to decide, but I would argue most people would do better in Toronto. If undecided, pick the big city, it is easier to leave the big city than to leave and come back.

4. Research - This is the one area both schools are excellent in. Toronto has more breadth, but may be more self directed and hard to navigate due to size. Hamilton is insane in certain areas like clin epi, weaker in others but it is very easy to get research in Hamilton, very little competition

5. Surgery vs Non-surgery - I've heard people say UofT convinces you to specialize, just by virtue of exposure to all these super sub specialists. However, if you are thinking surgical specialty, Toronto has much more support for that, from strong anatomy teaching to skills labs to SEAD to a longer surgical clerkship.

6. Where do you want to be for residency? - If the answer is Toronto, choose Toronto, if the answer is Hamilton, choose Hamilton, if the answer is other, it is basically the same, although i've heard rumors that it seems to be a little harder to convince other schools that you want to go there as a UofT student.

7. Culture - This varies year to year, but generally speaking Mac has a friendly and collaborative class, people share resources and advice and there is a bit of a "we are all in this together vibe" which may or may not have something to do with being a 3 yr program in a 4 yr world. Toronto, from what I hear is a bit more competitive, close within each academy but people tend to do their own thing.

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17 hours ago, Lactic Folly said:

I just wanted to say that I appreciate the frankness of the above post, given that the author identifies as a Mac graduate. Seems that most if not all of the important factors have been covered in this thread.

I agree, thanks to both of the answerers! Very helpful, and now I'm tipping towards Toronto, haha

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On 5/11/2018 at 12:30 AM, Rabeprazole said:

@beepboopbot I notice that you also have an offer for Western. I'm just wondering why you aren't considering that school too.

it's too far from home haha. i'd choose to stay as close as i can, and I've 90% decided U of T. Why, do you think Western has an edge over both schools?

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On 5/9/2018 at 10:52 PM, Edict said:

2. ..... people just end up reading Toronto Notes for tutorials

5. Surgery vs Non-surgery - I've heard people say UofT convinces you to specialize, just by virtue of exposure to all these super sub specialists. However, if you are thinking surgical specialty, Toronto has much more support for that, from strong anatomy teaching to skills labs to SEAD to a longer surgical clerkship.

7. Culture - This varies year to year, but generally speaking Mac has a friendly and collaborative class, people share resources and advice and there is a bit of a "we are all in this together vibe" which may or may not have something to do with being a 3 yr program in a 4 yr world. Toronto, from what I hear is a bit more competitive, close within each academy but people tend to do their own thing. 

I hate Toronto Notes. I hated it as a medical student, I especially hate it as a resident. There are so many far superior resources, and I did medical school at UofT. They really need to overhaul it, its just a bunch of UofT medical students with staff "editors/supervisors". It needs to be cleaner and with less errors.

5. I think the specialization emphasis at UofT is more the "hidden curriculum" then them actually encouraging specialization. As per UofT style, nothing exists outside of Toronto and academics, and the unfortunate thing is medical students (and residents) get roped into this mentality.

7. People are generally friendly at UofT and not very competitive (even when going for the same competitive specialities). Because of the large class size, you often find your own "cliques". If you are someone who is already connected within Toronto with your own set of friends, you definitely don't need to worry about finding friends.

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44 minutes ago, ACHQ said:

I hate Toronto Notes. I hated it as a medical student, I especially hate it as a resident. There are so many far superior resources, and I did medical school at UofT. They really need to overhaul it, its just a bunch of UofT medical students with staff "editors/supervisors". It needs to be cleaner and with less errors.

5. I think the specialization emphasis at UofT is more the "hidden curriculum" then them actually encouraging specialization. As per UofT style, nothing exists outside of Toronto and academics, and the unfortunate thing is medical students (and residents) get roped into this mentality.

7. People are generally friendly at UofT and not very competitive (even when going for the same competitive specialities). Because of the large class size, you often find your own "cliques". If you are someone who is already connected within Toronto with your own set of friends, you definitely don't need to worry about finding friends.

What would you recommend as some of the superior resources?

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On 5/12/2018 at 1:22 PM, yup said:

What would you recommend as some of the superior resources?

Depends on specialty and your own goals.

I can really only comment for Internal Medicine (my specialty), I would go with Approach to Internal Medicine by Hui or Pocket Medicine by Sabatine. I heard good things about step-up to medicine, but never used it myself.

As a medical student I often just used my class notes for that specialty during clerkship + whatever resources that rotation gave (most give out a hand-book/notes package for exam purposes). For the LMCC I used the USMLE Step 2 CK book which was also better (but much more abbreviated) than TO notes.

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4 hours ago, ACHQ said:

Depends on specialty and your own goals.

I can really only comment for Internal Medicine (my specialty), I would go with Approach to Internal Medicine by Hui or Pocket Medicine by Sabatine. I heard good things about step-up to medicine, but never used it myself. 

As a medical student I often just used my class notes for that specialty during clerkship + whatever resources that rotation gave (most give out a hand-book/notes package for exam purposes). For the LMCC I used the USMLE Step 2 CK book which was also better (but much more abbreviated) than TO notes. 

The other side to the story is that there are plenty of people who just used TO notes as their mainstay and passed all their med school rotations with no issues. I'd agree that TO notes is insufficient for your chosen specialty but no one is going into residency thinking they'll pass the royal college with them, so it's alright if you just want to get by as a med student. Working on soft skills has much higher yield for excelling at electives than book knowledge imo. I found Hui to be overkill for the school exam and the LMCC (I am not in internal medicine hah)

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2 hours ago, freewheeler said:

Generally:

1) Avoid 3 yr schools

2) Go wherever you have the best social support network

3) Go wherever you see yourself doing residency/practicing

How critical is it to choose a 3 yr program over a 4 year one? I have the option of going to a 3 year one that's close to my social support network and where I see myself doing residency vs. A 4 year program very very very far from my network. 

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For what it's worth, I was in the same situation (multiple offers including U of T, which was my undergrad + closer to home). I chose Mac because:
-it's 3 years (I'm a bit older)
-it felt like research/clinical networking would be easier here
-I felt like there was less unnecessary stuff forced down your throat
-Toronto is just to busy and loud for me
-opportunity cost: U of T costs ~20k more in tuition + ~300k in lost wages + ____k in increased living expenses...all told 300-500k extra to go to U of T, which wasn't worth it to me. I don't think any experience could have made up for that. But this is the most subjective point.
-if I wanted to specialize/gun I knew I could convert Mac into a 4 year program and get an extra year for electives/research to become very competitive, in the same time that it would take to graduate from a traditional 4 year school

2 years later, and I stand by those points. Networking/connections/opportunities are easy to create at McMaster. Life is more chill because you're not constantly tested on details that you only memorized for the test. Sometimes I wonder if I made a mistake by turning down the "prestige" associated with U of T (mostly when I here other people talking about it). I will say that I think U of T has a better curriculum UNLESS your good with self-direction, in which case Mac will serve you well.

Hope that helps you make up your mind. Remember: whatever your choice is, your life is going to be great + you can always attend other school for residency or fellowship.

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1 hour ago, KingKunta_chickenwings said:

How critical is it to choose a 3 yr program over a 4 year one? I have the option of going to a 3 year one that's close to my social support network and where I see myself doing residency vs. A 4 year program very very very far from my network. 

In that case a 3 yr program sounds like a better fit. If you are deadset on a competitive specialty however, be aware that you'll have to really be on top of your time management and self-care routine as you'll have to be much more proactive in planning things and building your CV during a shorter program and without summers. Not to mention the stress of having electives prior to clerkship rotations at a 3 yr program.

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Something thats sort of underrated is Hamilton as a city. Contrary to popular belief, hamilton is a growing and thriving city with lots of good food and beautiful waterfalls and hikes. Its a great way to destress. There is a true sense of community in hamilton and if you want to be involved with tackling some of the issues Hamiltonians face (social determinants of health) theres lots of people doing work. Also the cost of living in Hamilton and U of T is drastically different, if you want to consider things like debt. 

MAC has alot of strong researchers in bench work, clinical epi, etc. My mac med friends that I have spoken to havent really described any stress in the preclinical years and find it quite enjoyable. Depends on your learning style. 

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12 hours ago, KingKunta_chickenwings said:

How critical is it to choose a 3 yr program over a 4 year one? I have the option of going to a 3 year one that's close to my social support network and where I see myself doing residency vs. A 4 year program very very very far from my network. 

You should definitely go to the three year school in your case!

The benefit of a 4 year over a 3 year program is subjective. With good planning, a 3 year program will get you everything you need in a year less time. The benefit of a 4 year is theoretically you have more time to decide specialties and do research. But if you aren't proactive about how you spend your time in summers and between classes then the difference would quickly become moot. The theoretical benefit could be more summers = more research = better match to competitive specialties. But how can we say that a 4 year school reliably increases the odds of that? There is no evidence... Especially looking at Toronto's astonishingly high un-match rate this year of something like 12% of their class.

Now you as a person definitely factor into the decision; if you feel like you can't handle say Mac's really fast-paced process it might be wise to avoid it. But most people are quite adaptive and will do fine. In the end, social support network trumps all. 

disclaimer: I normally don't comment on the 3 vs 4 year threads and the whole Mac vs U of T debate because I typically find them biased/repetitive. However, I saw that you could be avoiding going to a medical school where you want to do residency and which has a support network for you which is why I'm advocating for your school of preference 

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1 hour ago, Organomegaly said:

You should definitely go to the three year school in your case!

The benefit of a 4 year over a 3 year program is subjective. With good planning, a 3 year program will get you everything you need in a year less time. The benefit of a 4 year is theoretically you have more time to decide specialties and do research. But if you aren't proactive about how you spend your time in summers and between classes then the difference would quickly become moot. The theoretical benefit could be more summers = more research = better match to competitive specialties. But how can we say that a 4 year school reliably increases the odds of that? There is no evidence... Especially looking at Toronto's astonishingly high un-match rate this year of something like 12% of their class.

Now you as a person definitely factor into the decision; if you feel like you can't handle say Mac's really fast-paced process it might be wise to avoid it. But most people are quite adaptive and will do fine. In the end, social support network trumps all. 

disclaimer: I normally don't comment on the 3 vs 4 year threads and the whole Mac vs U of T debate because I typically find them biased/repetitive. However, I saw that you could be avoiding going to a medical school where you want to do residency and which has a support network for you which is why I'm advocating for your school of preference 

Thank you for this. I've been flip flopping a lot back and forth these past few days, and I think I'll end up choosing the 3 year program. Just seems like it's better for my situation overall. Thank you again! 

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On 5/12/2018 at 12:03 PM, beepboopbot said:

it's too far from home haha. i'd choose to stay as close as i can, and I've 90% decided U of T. Why, do you think Western has an edge over both schools?

With my lack of experience, I wouldn't be able to say why X school has an edge over Y school. I was just interested in understanding why you wouldn't consider Western since it is one of the schools I'm aiming for when applying next cycle and I would want to know any potential negatives that I don't know about. It makes complete sense if you want to stay close to home.

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