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Why did you choose UCalgary Medical school?


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Hi Premed 101! 

I am trying to learn a bit more about what makes the University of Calgary's medical program unique? From perusing their website, I can see that the program is 3 years long. Beyond that, I am finding it hard to learn about the values of the school, any courses that they offer that other schools do not, etc. When I look at the University of Alberta website, in contrast, it appears much more clear to me what it might be like to be in their program (they seem to value Indigenous health, mental health of their students, and supporting their students academically through the program from what I can see). 

So, I thought to come on here and ask!

What made/makes the UCalgary medical school the one for you?

 

Thanks everyone!

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UofC is known for it's communications program and was the first med school in north america to establish this I believe. I've heard from a couple different sources that UofC students are known to have strong patient rapport and history taking skills--but I'm still a pre-clerk so I have no personal experience with this. I'm not too familiar with the UofA curriculum, but I know compared to some other schools such as UofT, UofC places a bigger emphasis on clinical teaching and less emphasis on basic science teaching. 

In terms of student support, I think you'll find once you get into med school that it's a whole different ball game. Unlike undergrad where you're basically left to fend for yourself in the wild, there's a massive amount of resources and a caring staff dedicated to helping you succeed. It's very easy to get an appointment with a counsellor for any issues you're having (academic, mental health etc.) and the counsellors are physicians which means they are not only able to support you through words, but can also prescribe medications, refer you to a psychiatrist etc. as necessary. This is the case at all the medical schools though, not something that is unique to UofC or UofA.

3-year program was of course a big selling point for me: you graduate with less debt and a year sooner, which is valuable considering how long medical training already is. However, some people have different feeling about this. As you can imagine, learning the same amount of material in 3-years as most other students do in 4 is challenging and we also get less time off school (3-4 weeks per year). There's also less time for you to decide on a career path because the program is structured as 9-months (1st year pre-clerkship), 9-months (2nd year pre-clerkship), and 1.5 years (pre-clerkship), in which you have to decide on your electives halfway through second-year (15-months in), and you apply to CaRMS 2.5 years into your program as a pose to 3.5-years into your program like with the 4-year schools. Some people will tell you that you might also have trouble matching to competitive specialties but I don't agree with this; I do about 25hrs/week of research on top of my school work, which keeps me busy, but is manageable.

In the end, choosing between the two is a very personal choice, and there's no right or wrong answer! You will get a great quality education and be able to pursue any career path by going to either. Where you choose to go should really come down to more personal factors such as proximity to family, preference for 3 vs. 4y program, etc.

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  • 2 months later...

I'd not recommend the U of C program if you are interested in anything other than FM or IM. More than 40% of our class interested in anything other than FM or IM matched into alternative disciplines/choices that was not their first choice. It was actually quite sad, given that most of these people were very smart and hardworking. While for the most part 50% match to their top choice specialty, the remainder did not. I have friends who were interested in neurology, EM, Anesthesthesia, OBS/GYN match to an alternative discipline in CaRMS.  Right now, we also have students unmatched from ENT, anesthesia, EM, derm...etc. Furthermore, the support that you get after being unmatched is minimal. You are left on your own for the most part. 

If you want to gamble on your future go to U of C.

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1 hour ago, unmatchingsucks said:

I'd not recommend the U of C program if you are interested in anything other than FM or IM. More than 40% of our class mattched into alternative discipline that was not their first choice. It was actually quite sad, given that most of these people were very smart and hardworking. While for the most part 50% match to their top choice specialty, the remainder did not. I have friends who were interested in neurology, EM, Anesthesthesia, OBS/GYN match to alternative discipline in CaRMS.  Right now, we also have students unmatched from ENT, anesthesia, EM, derm...etc. Furthermore, the support that you get after being unmatched is minimal. You are left on your own for the most part. 

Is this for this year? Because if it is, I imagine it has to do with three year school students having literally half of medical school and most of clerkship impacted by COVID. Things should theoretically revert to normal post COVID.

According to the CaRMS data, UofC had 86 percent match to a first choice discipline in 2020 and 2019 and 93 percent in 2018(the second highest in Canada after MUN). UofC is also inline with(or even lower) than other schools in having its applicants rank FM as their first choice discipline at around 30 percent. All of their CaRMS match data has historically been in line with UofA. None of the official CaRMS data for previous non COVID impacted years corroborates what you're saying.

Calgary has 1 CVsx spots(they had 2 in 2019 the only school to have 2 spots), 1 VascSx, 2 NSx, 2 PlasticSx, 6 ObGyn, 3 Derm, 2 Ophtho, 5 Ortho, 6 Rads, 1 ENT, and 7 Anaesthesia spots this past cycle. Considering they only have around 160 students, they have exceptional home school advantage for many tough to match specialties.

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On 4/27/2021 at 6:14 PM, zoxy said:

Is this for this year? Because if it is, I imagine it has to do with three year school students having literally half of medical school and most of clerkship impacted by COVID. Things should theoretically revert to normal post COVID.

According to the CaRMS data, UofC had 86 percent match to a first choice discipline in 2020 and 2019 and 93 percent in 2018(the second highest in Canada after MUN). UofC is also inline with(or even lower) than other schools in having its applicants rank FM as their first choice discipline at around 30 percent. All of their CaRMS match data has historically been in line with UofA. None of the official CaRMS data for previous non COVID impacted years corroborates what you're saying.

Calgary has 1 CVsx spots(they had 2 in 2019 the only school to have 2 spots), 1 VascSx, 2 NSx, 2 PlasticSx, 6 ObGyn, 3 Derm, 2 Ophtho, 5 Ortho, 6 Rads, 1 ENT, and 7 Anaesthesia spots this past cycle. Considering they only have around 160 students, they have exceptional home school advantage for many tough to match specialties.

Maybe I am wrong as I have not looked at previous data, but all I can tell you from my lived experience this year is that I know a lot of people who were going for medium competitiveness specialties such as psych, neuro, anesthesia, ortho who matched to alternative disciplines. I am sure that this may happen at any other school, but it's hard to be competitive when you are at a 3 year medical school, especially with the current CaRMS climate.

 

I am just puting this message out there so people are aware what they are getting themselves into. Again, there is no problem in pursuing U of C if you are interested in IM or FM. Most people interested in IM or FM matched to their top choices.

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On 4/27/2021 at 5:52 PM, unmatchingsucks said:

I'd not recommend the U of C program if you are interested in anything other than FM or IM. More than 40% of our class interested in anything other than FM or IM matched into alternative disciplines/choices that was not their first choice. It was actually quite sad, given that most of these people were very smart and hardworking. While for the most part 50% match to their top choice specialty, the remainder did not. I have friends who were interested in neurology, EM, Anesthesthesia, OBS/GYN match to an alternative discipline in CaRMS.  Right now, we also have students unmatched from ENT, anesthesia, EM, derm...etc. Furthermore, the support that you get after being unmatched is minimal. You are left on your own for the most part. 

If you want to gamble on your future go to U of C.

Based on your username, perhaps you went unmatched? If that's the case, I'm really sorry to hear it. I can see how the Limpkins (class of '21) were at a substantial disadvantage because they had just started clerkship when COVID hit. I guess we will wait and see when the match numbers come out, but as someone already mentioned, it may really just be a COVID-related phenomenon. 

Historically, UofC has had a substantially lower % of applicants rank FM first compared to most other schools (see below)

image.thumb.png.b39d81e5b82c5759d5db35f4c5c2f501.png

Also, despite both having a high proportion of applicants not ranking FM first and being a 3rd year program, UofC's 1st choice discipline match rate in the 1st round has been higher than most of the western medical schools (see below)

image.thumb.png.97bb73b8656a2cce0499358ba1bcdfc5.png

I do think that the class of 22' and the UME went into clerkship much more prepared for COVID and hopefully that will translate to better match outcomes in the following year. 

image.thumb.png.27968a9361cbbbbe0dfccbd7cb7c73fc.png

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On 4/27/2021 at 7:52 PM, unmatchingsucks said:

I'd not recommend the U of C program if you are interested in anything other than FM or IM. More than 40% of our class interested in anything other than FM or IM matched into alternative disciplines/choices that was not their first choice. It was actually quite sad, given that most of these people were very smart and hardworking. While for the most part 50% match to their top choice specialty, the remainder did not. I have friends who were interested in neurology, EM, Anesthesthesia, OBS/GYN match to an alternative discipline in CaRMS.  Right now, we also have students unmatched from ENT, anesthesia, EM, derm...etc. Furthermore, the support that you get after being unmatched is minimal. You are left on your own for the most part. 

If you want to gamble on your future go to U of C.

Every school has some off years that sometimes force schools to revaluate portions of their program that may make them more vulnerable to certain peculiarities. Like others have pointed out, doesn't necessarily imply a structural program. One year Toronto had 10% of their class unmatched..... Another school in the region had one year there it was pushing 15%. Most schools generally do perform within range of eachother and I wouldn't rank change your school preference on one years' match data. 

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I’m a more remote grad (2014) and what the possibly unmatched user posted above was not representative of my class.  Supports for unmatched were appropriate, people largely happy with their match (whether it was their first choice or not for specialty or location). I recall our class was pressed to back up and to back up with family because of a less desirable prior match and we ended up with 25% in family med—which was consistent with what classmates wanted.

Some years will be better match years than others. Covid has definitely thrown a wrench into everything and makes the unpredictable even more unpredictable. 
 

I feel badly for those who didn’t match as they’d hoped but I hope they find something they love in whatever or wherever they end up. 
 

best wishes,

LL

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