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Past and Current Ontario students: what factors should we consider when picking a school?


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I am fortunate enough to have gotten multiple Ontario offers this cycle (UWO, Queens, Toronto @ MAM, and Mac), and I am wondering what factors past/current students would recommend I should take into consideration when picking one. I'll list off what I'm currently thinking, and i would GREATLY appreciate any input from others. (FEEL FREE to plug your current school!!! I am 100% open to have my opinions changed)

Mac is out of the running for me because I don't like the idea of having to pick my desired residencies so soon. 

- Match rate/aspiring residency: all Ontario schools have great match rates, so im not obsessed over small differences. but i'm fairly sure I'm not interested in pursuing rural (I believe UWO emphasizes this) or family medicine. the breadth and pace of family medicine seems too overwhelming for me. So a school focusing on rural medicine would be a con for me

Social energy/vibes: I'm from a very friendly and supportive uni so I would like to be in a similar place, with minimal toxic gunners. i can definitely tolerate it, but it'd be nice to be somewhere where students are kind to each other, study together, etc

Diversity: Fairly important to me. I'm from a major city and always grew up in a very diverse community. I'd like experience in a hospital that presents similar levels of patient diversity, and would also like a school that values inclusiveness in its students (causing a bit of hesitation for me with Queen's, based on their past administration, NOT students!).

Curriculum: I'm not sure what curriculum is better or worse, but I plan to review descriptions of each and see what works with my own skills and habits (I honestly enjoy standardized tests and old-school evaluations lol but i'm sure i would enjoy the newer small-group discussion assignments too)

Cost of living: not a major concern for me. I've been told all schools provide some amount of financial aid, and OSAP/LOC will cover the rest. 

ANY advice on what to consider and opinions about any of these schools from current/past students would be IMMENSELY appreciated. Other applicants: feel free to hijack this post to drop your own decisions/choices you're choosing between :)

 

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Congratulations on your acceptances!!! I would say one of the biggest factors to consider when choosing is social support and/or being in a city that you feel would be the best fit. I feel that having good social support wherever you are for school (whether it’s family or friends) it more important than things like curriculum differences. Medical school can be very stressful at times, so it’s nice to have family or friends close by. But I don’t think you can go wrong with any of those schools. Best of luck with choosing! 

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I went to Western - it's a great school with a really friendly, chill vibe (or it was when I was there).  However, if you want to live in a diverse city, don't move to London.

I was choosing between U of T and UWO, which basically came down to my preferred curriculum over my preferred city.  Chose Western.  Don't regret it overall (though if I hadn't been able to match to Toronto for residency I'd probably regret it a whole lot more), but four years in London was definitely a slog.

Any choice you make will have ups and downs and will ultimately get you to the final destination :)

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Gratz on the multiple offers! I actually find myself in the exact same situation with the same 4 offers, and have been trying to make the same decision. Personally I'm leaning towards MAM, with Queens in second. From what I've gleaned from talking to others in the respective programs, the social support from any family and friends you have in the vicinity of the school is a huge factor, as you'll get a fine education whichever you attend in ON. I've heard positive things about MAM regarding the family feel of the class compared to UTSG, so I've gotta say MAM looks attractive because of that and the diversity of the school, small class size, and access to UofT resources.

I've heard that the social environment and support from faculty/admins at Queens is second to none, but I feel like the (still quite good) cohesion among MAM students and much closer proximity to my support network probably put it ahead. I feel like it's a composite decision. 

That said, any students of any of these programs please feel free to correct me on any of these points you disagree with or drop any extra knowledge, always appreciated!

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6 minutes ago, TheFlyGuy said:

Gratz on the multiple offers! I actually find myself in the exact same situation with the same 4 offers, and have been trying to make the same decision. Personally I'm leaning towards MAM, with Queens in second. From what I've gleaned from talking to others in the respective programs, the social support from any family and friends you have in the vicinity of the school is a huge factor, as you'll get a fine education whichever you attend in ON. I've heard positive things about MAM regarding the family feel of the class compared to UTSG, so I've gotta say MAM looks attractive because of that and the diversity of the school, small class size, and access to UofT resources.

I've heard that the social environment and support from faculty/admins at Queens is second to none, but I feel like the (still quite good) cohesion among MAM students and much closer proximity to my support network probably put it ahead. I feel like it's a composite decision. 

That said, any students of any of these programs please feel free to correct me on any of these points you disagree with or drop any extra knowledge, always appreciated!

Hahaha amazing, found my offer twin! I'm almost feeling the exact same way as you. The general pros of U of T are strong, and adding that the GTA is the only area of the 4 where I have extended family & family friends is now an additional pro! Thanks for reminding me of that.

Diversity of patients and students in mississauga is another plus that the other schools seem to lack somewhat (again, current students pls correct me if im wrong). Part of me worries that U of T may have a high incidence of "gunners" but i think you'll get that at any canadian med school somewhat...not sure there's a "chill dude" med school LOL

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9 hours ago, supadupafly said:

Hahaha amazing, found my offer twin! I'm almost feeling the exact same way as you. The general pros of U of T are strong, and adding that the GTA is the only area of the 4 where I have extended family & family friends is now an additional pro! Thanks for reminding me of that.

Diversity of patients and students in mississauga is another plus that the other schools seem to lack somewhat (again, current students pls correct me if im wrong). Part of me worries that U of T may have a high incidence of "gunners" but i think you'll get that at any canadian med school somewhat...not sure there's a "chill dude" med school LOL

Seems we’re really on the same page haha, I worry a bit about the gunner mentality with Toronto too. I’ve heard that MAM is a little better in that regard, and more family-like than dt, so I’m hoping it’s a little more relaxed. Like you said tho probably unavoidable to some extent.

I’ve a feeling MAM is where I’ll end up, so might see you there in the fall! (...or at least online anyways)

 

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31 minutes ago, TheFlyGuy said:

Seems we’re really on the same page haha, I worry a bit about the gunner mentality with Toronto too. I’ve heard that MAM is a little better in that regard, and more family-like than dt, so I’m hoping it’s a little more relaxed. Like you said tho probably unavoidable to some extent.

I’ve a feeling MAM is where I’ll end up, so might see you there in the fall! (...or at least online 

The diversity of med students is fairly similar across all the schools in Ontario, so you'll definitely be able to find classmates and people in the years above/below you who share the same cultural background regardless of where you go. Of course, the patient population and the population of the rest of the university will differ, but med students tend to be in their own bubble from other university students, so I wouldn't consider diversity of non-med students to be a huge factor in your decision.

MAM is definitely a good choice and it seems like you (both) have a good perspective on what it brings to the table. At MAM, you'll get a nice, family-style atmosphere and a more hands-on experience as compared to the downtown hospitals/academies. It's true, U of T has a reputation of having gunners (WB in particular), but I'd imagine that would exist everywhere in Ontario. It seems to be less so at MAM. The one thing I would want you to know in making this decision is that there is a perception among downtown students (possibly existing at MAM as well, but I wasn't at MAM so I don't know how they felt about it) of MAM students being "second class citizens" at U of T. This is more of a perception than a reality, manifested primarily in the form of jokes from downtown students and subtexts in conversations among students. Let me stress that this does NOT manifest at an administration/medical school level; the admin treats everyone equally. But it's something to consider in making your decision; I know it would definitely bother some people enough to influence their choice.

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4 minutes ago, Galaxsci said:

The diversity of med students is fairly similar across all the schools in Ontario, so you'll definitely be able to find classmates and people in the years above/below you who share the same cultural background regardless of where you go. Of course, the patient population and the population of the rest of the university will differ, but med students tend to be in their own bubble from other university students, so I wouldn't consider diversity of non-med students to be a huge factor in your decision.

MAM is definitely a good choice and it seems like you (both) have a good perspective on what it brings to the table. At MAM, you'll get a nice, family-style atmosphere and a more hands-on experience as compared to the downtown hospitals/academies. It's true, U of T has a reputation of having gunners (WB in particular), but I'd imagine that would exist everywhere in Ontario. It seems to be less so at MAM. The one thing I would want you to know in making this decision is that there is a perception among downtown students (possibly existing at MAM as well, but I wasn't at MAM so I don't know how they felt about it) of MAM students being "second class citizens" at U of T. This is more of a perception than a reality, manifested primarily in the form of jokes from downtown students and subtexts in conversations among students. Let me stress that this does NOT manifest at an administration/medical school level; the admin treats everyone equally. But it's something to consider in making your decision; I know it would definitely bother some people enough to influence their choice.

Just curious, why does WB attract more gunners? Funny enough it was my first choice. Would love to see if I fit the stereotype LOOOL

 

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1 hour ago, premedubc101 said:

Just curious, why does WB attract more gunners? Funny enough it was my first choice. Would love to see if I fit the stereotype LOOOL

 

Can't say for sure and it's a decision that differs on a person-to-person basis, but it's probably because of the prestige and the resulting differences between it and the other academies (see below). UHN is the most well known of the base sites and TGH is world renowned. So people who are gunning may be drawn to the more prestigious sites, the greater number of world renowned docs to make connections with (and the ability to potentially have them help you to get into residency), and the (theoretically) greater number of research opportunities. 

That said, a lot of people rank WB first solely because most of the sites are really convenient to access and because it's the biggest academy so theoretically there's the greatest opportunity to meet people you get along with. So there's lots of different reasons to rank it. 

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4 hours ago, Galaxsci said:

Can't say for sure and it's a decision that differs on a person-to-person basis, but it's probably because of the prestige and the resulting differences between it and the other academies (see below). UHN is the most well known of the base sites and TGH is world renowned. So people who are gunning may be drawn to the more prestigious sites, the greater number of world renowned docs to make connections with (and the ability to potentially have them help you to get into residency), and the (theoretically) greater number of research opportunities. 

That said, a lot of people rank WB first solely because most of the sites are really convenient to access and because it's the biggest academy so theoretically there's the greatest opportunity to meet people you get along with. So there's lots of different reasons to rank it. 

Interesting you mention this...so teaching physicians are directly involved in the process of selecting the residents of the hospitals that they work at?

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18 minutes ago, supadupafly said:

Interesting you mention this...so teaching physicians are directly involved in the process of selecting the residents of the hospitals that they work at?

Getting a reference letter from a staff who is a Big Deal is always worth doing no matter where you want to match.  So is getting them to say good things about you behind the scenes.  Teaching staff are also involved in doing CaRMS interviews often, but would likely recuse themselves from interviewing if they personally know you.  But the letters and word of mouth are a big deal from the staff.  And also word of mouth from the residents to a lesser degree.

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7 minutes ago, ellorie said:

Getting a reference letter from a staff who is a Big Deal is always worth doing no matter where you want to match.  So is getting them to say good things about you behind the scenes.  Teaching staff are also involved in doing CaRMS interviews often, but would likely recuse themselves from interviewing if they personally know you.  But the letters and word of mouth are a big deal from the staff.  And also word of mouth from the residents to a lesser degree.

I see. I’m asking because since MAM doesn’t take residents, the teaching doctors there wouldn’t necessarily be looking for students who would eventually become residents with them. I suppose this would be a disadvantage of being in MAM as opposed to StG?

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4 minutes ago, supadupafly said:

I see. I’m asking because since MAM doesn’t take residents, the teaching doctors there wouldn’t necessarily be looking for students who would eventually become residents with them. I suppose this would be a disadvantage of being in MAM as opposed to StG?

Seems that way. I wonder if with extra legwork, maybe electives and such, it can be possible to cultivate those relationships even from MAM? Would love to know the answer to this too

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5 minutes ago, TheFlyGuy said:

Seems that way. I wonder if with extra legwork, maybe electives and such, it can be possible to cultivate those relationships even from MAM? Would love to know the answer to this too

Not sure who to ask. The best possible source would be a MAM graduate who later matched to their desired residency at U of T. 

Presumably this would only be a disadvantage for those looking to match to U of T specifically, but since this is about 50% of graduates each year, this disadvantage would be significant :(. I personally wouldn’t be too happy about constantly having to commute between Mississauga and Toronto and doing extra shadowing trying to keep up with the downtown students who have access to these doctors during their core rotations. 

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You can take this as you will from someone who didn't attend U of T for medical school - but you are stressing way too much for someone who hasn't even started MS1 yet :)

Many people match to U of T every year who didn't even go to medical school at U of T.  Honestly the connections you make in pre-clerkship are not nearly as important as those you make during electives.  Pre-clerkship is for figuring out what specialty you want to do.  And if you know what you want to do, and you get in with physicians in that specialty at whatever hospital is around, they will have their own connections and will hook you up with contacts or opportunities.

Plus honestly you'll probably get better mentoring from physicians who aren't up to their eyeballs in other commitments anyway.  

And (I'm assuming) they don't actually put up a wall around Mississauga and prevent you from ever leaving it? If you really want to network with people downtown I'm sure you can find a way to do it.

My most influential mentor in my specialty was someone I got randomly hooked up with in MS4 and not someone I went looking for at all.

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9 minutes ago, ellorie said:

You can take this as you will from someone who didn't attend U of T for medical school - but you are stressing way too much for someone who hasn't even started MS1 yet :)

Many people match to U of T every year who didn't even go to medical school at U of T.  Honestly the connections you make in pre-clerkship are not nearly as important as those you make during electives.  Pre-clerkship is for figuring out what specialty you want to do.  And if you know what you want to do, and you get in with physicians in that specialty at whatever hospital is around, they will have their own connections and will hook you up with contacts or opportunities.

Plus honestly you'll probably get better mentoring from physicians who aren't up to their eyeballs in other commitments anyway.  

And (I'm assuming) they don't actually put up a wall around Mississauga and prevent you from ever leaving it? If you really want to network with people downtown I'm sure you can find a way to do it.

My most influential mentor in my specialty was someone I got randomly hooked up with in MS4 and not someone I went looking for at all.

Hahaha yes I'm sure I'm getting a bit ahead of myself, but the thought of my campus/academy having any affect on my potential residency options is concerning and I'd like to know this before choosing between my offers of course.

Your point about electives and networking is interesting and true, I just don't know if I'm going to enjoy having to travel far between all my opportunities/commitments. Although I had to bus an hour home all of high school/uni, and I've learned to be productive on commutes. 

Once I have a clear set of methods/ways to overcome any potential barriers of opportunity that I might encounter at MAM compared to the StG students, it will without a doubt become my first choice...

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17 hours ago, supadupafly said:

Hahaha yes I'm sure I'm getting a bit ahead of myself, but the thought of my campus/academy having any affect on my potential residency options is concerning and I'd like to know this before choosing between my offers of course.

Your point about electives and networking is interesting and true, I just don't know if I'm going to enjoy having to travel far between all my opportunities/commitments. Although I had to bus an hour home all of high school/uni, and I've learned to be productive on commutes. 

Once I have a clear set of methods/ways to overcome any potential barriers of opportunity that I might encounter at MAM compared to the StG students, it will without a doubt become my first choice...

Totally agree with what was said above. Regardless of what academy or campus you're at, there will be docs who are involved in the selection process, including the Mississauga hospitals. Most MAM and StG students will do at least one elective downtown, which provides an opportunity to get to know docs who are at a different hospital from the one where you did your core rotation. Yes, downtown students have their core rotation and research opportunities to build connections with the downtown docs, but MAM students still have a large advantage in matching to Toronto over the rest of Canada and tons of students from MAM and other schools match to Toronto.

Finally, if matching is your concern, there's nothing to be worried about. Toronto's first round match rate this year was slightly over 97% and MAM was in line with the other academies. 

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