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VFMP Clinical Experience; input from past/current clerkship students?


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Hi everyone :)

 I am feeling extremely grateful and blessed to have received multiple acceptances this year and am trying to make the best choice for which medical school I want to attend in 2020. I am from Ontario originally but am serious about making the trip to BC. However, I was curious about what the clinical opportunities are like at the Vancouver campus because the class size and city is very large. So my question is for past or current clerkship students: during your rotations, do you often feel that there are a lot of learners ahead of you and you are watching more than doing? Is there a lot of 1-on-1 attention as a clerk/med student? How about waitlists for electives... is it difficult to get electives in the area you want? I just want to get a sense of the competitiveness and opportunity for hands-on clinical experience at UBC and especially in the Vancouver area. Thank you in advance :)

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Congratulations on those great acceptances and being able to have the fortune of studying medicine in your local province and community. I know how important and stressful it can feel to make the right decision about where to study as we all want to minimize regret and mistake.

Saw your post and thought I could just share my two cents as I was recently in the same position. With the way things are looking with classes at UBC going online and with less in-person workshops and opportunities being offered for students, as well as compromises the faculty have made according to the email update they sent to faculty and staff (even with which no one still really knows how bad things will be in the Fall according to expert reports and what disease centres announced), I rejected my offer to UBC VFMP in favour of UofCalgary Med on Tuesday. Even though I have a super-supportive aunt who lives in Vancouver, I decided to stay in Calgary where my connections and family are as well as it being a city I'm more comfortable and familiar with. But I'm hoping to go somewhere else for continuing education (which is endless for doctors after MD isn't it lol) like Vancouver even perhaps after everything settles but BC just feels too far away from home and estranged for now. 

Also, from what my cousin who's currently third year UBC VMP shared, hands-on research/clerkship opportunities may be possible to find but limited for first years at UBC due to the large incoming class and a naturally high demand for research spots in Vancouver as well as with disrupted clerkship and research timelines, which may be even more-so for the distributed island and rural sites. That might change but who knows when and certainly makes for an even more stressful year living away from home. In any case, I'm sure you will make the decision that is best suited to your personal situation and needs. I'm rooting for you and know that you will make a great doctor regardless of where you ultimately attend :)

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I took advantage of the integrated community clerkship option, so I did my clerkship in a small community. In that space I found there was a lot of opportunity for hands-on learning, and lots of one-on-one attention. I was often the only learner: always the only medical student working with staff, and in some rotations there was sometimes a resident to work with. So if you want to come to Vancouver, but want that sort of clerkship experience, it is available (although limited in number - ~24 / year). Cannot speak to the experience in Vancouver, except to say that while many of my friends did have less hands on / less one-on-one attention from attendings, they had access to other experiences and more teaching from residents that I did not. So I think it balances out.

To expand on the above comments. Hopefully by the time you'd be in third year, things will be largely back to normal in terms of clinical exposure. But it's true that clinical exposure in years 1/2 at UBC is difficult even in pre-COVID times. Research opportunities are pretty widely available for those students who seek them out. Some shadowing is possible, but insurance coverage does not technically allow for students to be doing any hands-on procedures or really clinical work during shadowing - so the only real exposure you may get is through year 1/2 family practice, and experiences very widely. 

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I would assume that any decreases in hands-on opportunities due to covid would be applicable to all schools across Canada so I wouldn't really take that into consideration tbh. I think clinical exposure in years 1/2 are somewhat luck of the draw for FP, but also what you make of it. I had a couple family practice preceptors who let me do a lot of solo work including physical assessments, procedures and lots of interviews. Also while it may not sound as exciting, getting lots of face-to-face time with patients doing interviews and history taking has probably been much more valuable to me compared to the few pap-tests I got to do. At the same time, I had plenty of opportunities to shadow different specialties (either organized through student groups or just through emailing doctors), during which I got to meet a lot of interesting patients as well as saw multiple procedures and surgeries (including scrubbing in). Our clinical skills sessions in second year are also quite valuable (in first year they're all volunteer patients who usually don't have anything "wrong" with them because you're really just learning the basics and don't need anything more complicated than that, trust me!), because we got to see patients who had specific problems relating to the clinical skill, as well as three sessions each term where you go solo to interview and do a complete physical on an in-patient currently at the hospital, and then return to do oral reporting to your preceptor. These sessions were amazing learning opportunities, even if they were very intimidating! Other opportunities usually come up throughout the year, such as participating in flu clinics (I gave >40 flu shots to students and faculty in one day), and doing health checks and BP clinics in the community. 

I can't imagine how much more I would expect schools to be offering year 1/2 students in terms of clinical time given we have extremely limited skills. For year 3/4 I haven't started yet but I've heard from many students that your experiences are really what you make of them

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