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Overview of the Various Sites

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Hello everyone, I'll keep it nice and short. I was wondering if anyone here had any good insight on the different medical school sites (i.e NMP, IMP, SMP, VFMP) and what each of their strengths/weaknesses are. I realize there's an open house coming up, but I'd be very interested to hear anyone's thoughts on this!

From what I understand so far:

IMP: Nice city, climate, small class size 

SMP: Great skiing, small class sizes 

NMP: Excellent for family medicine, small class sizes 

VFMP: Where you want to go to specialize

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You've highlighted a common misconception. Distributed site students are not disadvantaged in terms of matching to specialties. We've matched to neurosurg, plastics, derm, you name it. I think there is rather something inherent about the people who choose the smaller sites that have them choose to apply to family medicine in higher proportions. On the other hand, a lot of VFMP students wish to stay in large cities and a traditional Family Med practice is becoming unfeasible in large cities (especially Vancouver), so they apply to specialties.

Personally, I'm an IMP gunning for a small competitive specialty and I've found it a bit more challenging to shadow or get in-person research opportunities with the academic specialists in Vancouver pre-COVID, but the advantages of my distributed site (more support, less competitive/stressful environment, more leadership opportunities, more responsibility and hands-on opportunities in clerkship) FAR outweigh that disadvantage in my opinion. During the pandemic, no shadowing or in-person research is really available anyways, so you may as well be at a distributed site and enjoy those benefits. Distributed site students have been able to have more in-person learning (CBL, anatomy review sessions) during the pandemic as well. 

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First and foremost I would consider where you could see yourself happy for the next three+ years. My impression has definitely been that all of the different programs offer a very comparable education, aside from slight differences. What the distributed programs possibly lose out slightly with access to highly subspecialized clinical/research experiences, you can easily argue that they make up for it with smaller group teaching and more opportunities intrinsic to the smaller class and medical community at their site. The distributed sites generally seem to have a more cohesive and connected culture than the larger amorphous VFMP program (barring some exceptions), but I would argue that in VFMP you also have great opportunities to "find your people" within the larger class, and a wider range of in-person extracurricular opportunities.

Everyone has the opportunity to do the same fourth year electives, which is where one gets most of their references letters and a significant amount of networking opportunities. To be honest, I remember stressing the choice between these sites years ago when I was in the same position. If you do a little introspection and rank according to what feels like a best fit with your personality, you can't go wrong. No choice alone is guaranteed to substantially impact your career prospects one way or another. I ultimately chose VFMP, but I could have easily been happy at a distributed site.

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You should have a site info session that will tell you more about the sites and allow you to explore the options. I would echo what the others have said, choose where you want to spend your time and not by what you have heard about each site. Every UBC site is good and there is no poor choice when it comes to your education. Keep in mind this is only a site preference and you are not guaranteed your top choices. You should be prepared to be sent anywhere you select. I ranked my sites in order of support system (family and friends) at each site. I think it can be really helpful to have support outside of medcine but if you don't have this you can always make it happen when you get to your site. 

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