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Was super lucky to get into multiple schools (UBC, UofC off waitlist, Manitoba, and Sask), am currently debating between only UBC VFMP and UofC as I am not considering Manitoba and Sask. I don't see many posts comparing UBC VFMP and UofC and was having trouble deciding so I am wondering what everyone's thoughts are on this, especially if you are a med student or graduate from either school (but would love to hear what everyone else says as well!). Here's what I'm thinking so far, let me know what you think!!

Pros of UofC:

- cheap

- graduate faster so make money faster

- you get ur MD at the end of the day

- know some people who got into UofC

- support system in Calgary

- might want to do residency in Calgary

Cons of UofC:

- less time for electives

- less time to figure out specialty

- apparently worse teaching and curriculum

- seems super stressful and hectic

- no summers, no time to travel

 

Pros of UBC:

- ranked higher

- very nice curriculum

- apparently more chill, you get mornings off twice a week

- summers, can travel

- lots of elective time

- Vancouver is beautiful

Cons of UBC:

- extremely expensive

- moving out

- don't know anyone at UBC, might be lonely

- no support system at UBC

 

Thanks in advance!

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Biased as I went to U of C, but one year shorter of med school is either one year extra of your life in retirement, OR one year more of lifetime earnings at your maximum salary. Not to mention the cost of living difference for 3 years, but a broad view the year of staff physician salary is the one that makes a difference.

Assuming QoL is similar between the two cities and family/friend supports are similar between the two, that is something to consider.

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Med school rank makes no difference unless you're interested in flexing. Otherwise, match rates are about the same and your decision should really be based on which school would work best for your learning/goals.

Few things I will add (based on personal experience - so I'm biased):

1) Living in calgary will probably not be as exciting as vancouver, but the mountains that are a 1hr drive away from here are beautiful so depends on if you're an outdoor-sy person.

2) I'm not sure about the whole "worse curriculum" thing; doubt there's any evidence to support that assumption. A better way to put it may be "different curriculum". For example, calgary's curriculum is very clinical focused, which is fantastic if you're going into a medical speciality but the anatomy/pathology/basic teaching is more limited compared to some other schools. This may be a con if you're considering pathology or a surgical speciality. On the other hand, I've heard that UBC has a lot of anatomy teaching, so it may be a better fit for the surgery gunners. I personally love the clinical focus since I have no interest in reading histology slides or memorizing protein pathways, but to each their own.

3) Elective time is more limited at a 3y program obviously, but you do get 3 electives during pre-clerkship which are meant to get you some hands on clinical exposure and help in career planning. Also, calgary starts things like clinical skills/physical exam/clinical core rotations in like the second month of first year, so you do get a lot of clinical exposure much earlier than most other schools (for example, while other schools transitioned their pre-clerkship curriculum fully online last year, UofC pre-clerks still got to do clinical skills/physical exam/clinical core rotations in-person).

Most of the other stuff you've already touched on. I chose UofC over a 4y program because I wanted to save money and get to be a doctor a year faster. I'm also not too bummed about not having full summers off because I wasn't planning on spending 1-month traveling Europe or Asia anyway, and the smaller trips such as out east to visit friends are possible over long-weekends or during the 1-2 week long interspaced breaks we do get. Lots of people choose 4y programs because of all the factors you've listed above (i.e., more time to decide on specialty, more time off etc.) and that's totally fine. Just depends on who you are as a person and what your priorities are like.

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On 5/26/2021 at 2:40 AM, okayyes said:

Was super lucky to get into multiple schools (UBC, UofC off waitlist, Manitoba, and Sask), am currently debating between only UBC VFMP and UofC as I am not considering Manitoba and Sask. I don't see many posts comparing UBC VFMP and UofC and was having trouble deciding so I am wondering what everyone's thoughts are on this, especially if you are a med student or graduate from either school (but would love to hear what everyone else says as well!). Here's what I'm thinking so far, let me know what you think!!

Pros of UofC:

- cheap

- graduate faster so make money faster

- you get ur MD at the end of the day

- know some people who got into UofC

- support system in Calgary

- might want to do residency in Calgary

Cons of UofC:

- less time for electives

- less time to figure out specialty

- apparently worse teaching and curriculum

- seems super stressful and hectic

- no summers, no time to travel

 

Pros of UBC:

- ranked higher

- very nice curriculum

- apparently more chill, you get mornings off twice a week

- summers, can travel

- lots of elective time

- Vancouver is beautiful

Cons of UBC:

- extremely expensive

- moving out

- don't know anyone at UBC, might be lonely

- no support system at UBC

 

Thanks in advance!

If you know what you are interested in, then pick U of C!! U of C provides excellent clinical medicine training, and has almost comparable match rates for almost all the primary care specialties :) Plus your support system is in Calgary!!

 

 

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If money isn't a huge consideration for you I would choose Vancouver in a heart beat, yes there are benefits to the shortened Calgary program but Vancouver is a wayyy cooler and livelier city, plus you're right by the ocean...I did my undergrad in a city on the ocean and getting to see that every day grounded me and was a huge energy boost. This choice is obviously so personal so you're going to need to see what aspects you value most about the city and curriculum. Full Disclosure I'm on the WL for Calgary, but I promise this in my genuine opinion lol. 

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On 5/26/2021 at 2:40 AM, okayyes said:

less time for electives

I think the elective drawback of three year school will be much smaller going forward. The 8 week cap on electives in a single specialty puts all schools on pretty even footing. UBC students used to have a huge advantage by having the most electives in Canada, something like 24 or 26 weeks, which allowed them to do electives in their preferred specialty in every centre in the country. Now they can only do eight weeks in their preferred specialty, nullifying the value of their 24-26 weeks of elective time. What's the point of 24-26 weeks of electives if you can't do them in your preferred specialty?

Another issue is the home school advantage at UBC vs Calgary for competitive specialties. UBC has 288 students while Calgary has 155. Despite having only 55 percent of UBC's students, Calgary has more spots per home school student for competitive specialties and Surgery than UBC, barring Urology (which Calgary doesn't have). I predict that UBC students will have rough matches to competitive specialties in the coming years with the limiting of their electives and the lack of spots at their home school.

NSx: Calgary 2, UBC  1 

CVSx: Calgary has 1 spot every year(and had two in 2019), while UBC seems to offer a spot every other year

Derm: Calgary 3, UBC 2

Rads: Calgary 5, UBC 6

ENT: Calgary 2, UBC 3

Ophtho: Calgary 2, UBC 3

Ob/Gyn: Calgary 6, UBC 8

Plastics: Calgary 2, UBC 2

VSx: Calgary 1, UBC 1

Ortho: Calgary 5, UBC 3

GenSx: Calgary 4, UBC 7

 

 

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Full disclosure that I am a U of C WLer lol, but if I had the choice I honestly just could never pass up the opportunity to live in Vancouver for med or any degree really. Larger unis like UBC also have more research resources to draw upon if that is something you are interested in. I would pick UBC over either IP school personally (or maybe any med school in Canada honestly).  

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15 hours ago, zoxy said:

I think the elective drawback of three year school will be much smaller going forward. The 8 week cap on electives in a single specialty puts all schools on pretty even footing. UBC students used to have a huge advantage by having the most electives in Canada, something like 24 or 26 weeks, which allowed them to do electives in their preferred specialty in every centre in the country. Now they can only do eight weeks in their preferred specialty, nullifying the value of their 24-26 weeks of elective time. What's the point of 24-26 weeks of electives if you can't do them in your preferred specialty?

Another issue is the home school advantage at UBC vs Calgary for competitive specialties. UBC has 288 students while Calgary has 155. Despite having only 55 percent of UBC's students, Calgary has more spots per home school student for competitive specialties and Surgery than UBC, barring Urology (which Calgary doesn't have). I predict that UBC students will have rough matches to competitive specialties in the coming years with the limiting of their electives and the lack of spots at their home school.

NSx: Calgary 2, UBC  1 

CVSx: Calgary has 1 spot every year while UBC seems to offer a spot every other year

Derm: Calgary 3, UBC 2

Rads: Calgary 5, UBC 6

ENT: Calgary 2, UBC 3

Ophtho: Calgary 2, UBC 3

Ob/Gyn: Calgary 6, UBC 8

Plastics: Calgary 2, UBC 2

VSx: Calgary 1, UBC 1

Ortho: Calgary 5, UBC 3

GenSx: Calgary 4, UBC 7

You're right that Calgary has disproportionately more  residency spots than UBC for some competitive disciplines.  And that there is now an 8 week elective cap which in theory should lead to more equity.

No question that there is a significant "home school" advantage when it comes to interviews and ranking which should theoretically help UCalgary students  (home  School advantage).  Looking through the data for 2020 gives a more nuanced picture.

  • A homeschool match rate of 65/153 (43%) at UCalgary vs 162/282 (57%) at UBC [Table 29]
  • visible difference between "home school" advantage for interview and "rank" within the Western region - pages 3 & 5 [school link]
  • still, homeschool is a general MAJOR advantage for ranking - especially in most competitive disciplines (page7)

for surgical disciplines..

  • Surprisingly first choice 32/165 (19%) UCalgary vs 42/293 (14%) UBC!!.. although differences were mostly all driven by OBGYN at UCalgary which was very popular (Table 29).  

In terms of overall match rate

  • First choice discipline essentially identical 87.6% (UBC) vs 86.3% (Calgary) (Table 16)
  • First choice program 151/293 [52%] (UBC) vs 79/165 [48%] (Calgary) (Table 15)

so.. putting it all together.  

tl;dr Although many people do suggest that early electives and lack of exploration/CV research/opportunities could put graduates at a disadvantage, the disproportionate number for specialty spots may partly compensate at UCalgary vs UBC to keep a strong match rate.  

IF being in BC is a significant long-term goal, then going to UBC is probably the right decision - it could be UBC graduates are more attached to their province and more willing to choose "location" vs "program" which isn't easily captured in this data.

My feeling is that UBC graduates are probably slightly more competitive on average for some disciplines, but are less willing to relocate.  Combined with more spots at UCalgary this means that the discipline/program match rate is essentially identical for both schools.  

Edit:  Stats need to be understood in context.  The home school advantage has some interesting stats..  Page 4 gives interview rates by discipline by home schools (and away)

  • Emerg/Ophthal/Derm/Plastics have home school interview rate of 61%/68%/ 77%/82% respectively (the most competitive disciplines)
  • .. but Neuropath/Genpath/Hemepath have 50%/71%/75%

So what gives?  Time for a neuropath and heme path interest group?  More path research?

This goes against intuition, but the interview rate of Emerg/..  is probably first-round for focused applications while the interview rate of Neuro/.. is possibly unmatched home-school candidates applying to second round disciplines.

In a sense, some unmatched candidates may be faced with even worse odds for interviewing/matching than for the most competitive disciplines.. although likely a small sample size too.

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Thanks for adding some nuance to my low level analysis. I would personally choose Calgary if I knew what specialty I wanted before starting medical school but would prefer a 4 year school if I wasn't sure about my specialty choice.

6 hours ago, indefatigable said:

A homeschool match rate of 65/153 (43%) at UCalgary vs 162/282 (57%) at UBC [Table 29]

Also, I think this doesn't give the full picture because Alberta has two medical schools while BC has one. If you're a Calgary student who's from Northern Alberta and wants to practice back home in Northern Alberta, you'd probably rank the UofA as your first choice fo residency. In fact, about a quarter of the UofA and UofC graduates who stay in Alberta end up at the other Alberta school and overall, the IP match rate of both Alberta schools is similar to UBC's IP match rate . Since BC only has one school, UBC captures all of the folks who want to stay close to home in BC. So the numbers that you quoted while they do add a deal of nuance, might underplay Calgary's home-school advantage.

6 hours ago, indefatigable said:

Edit:  Stats need to be understood in context.  The home school advantage has some interesting stats..  Page 4 gives interview rates by discipline by home schools (and away)

  • Emerg/Ophthal/Derm/Plastics have home school interview rate of 61%/68%/ 77%/82% respectively (the most competitive disciplines)

Also yeah, the home school advantage is biggest in competitive specialties that I was talking about. So I think the overall first choice discipline match rate might not capture the overall success of applicants from a particular school have in matching to competitive specialties in its entirety.  I feel like that with the limit on electives, home school advantage is going to become even bigger since many programs won't be able to evaluate candidate themselves.

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2 hours ago, zoxy said:

Thanks for adding some nuance to my low level analysis. I would personally choose Calgary if I knew what specialty I wanted before starting medical school but would prefer a 4 year school if I wasn't sure about my specialty choice.

I think that's fair.  I personally think the effective "early commitment" could be disadvantageous as it could be hard to really know true preferences until later, but I agree that the data would support such a decision.

2 hours ago, zoxy said:

Also, I think this doesn't give the full picture because Alberta has two medical schools while BC has one. If you're a Calgary student who's from Northern Alberta and wants to practice back home in Northern Alberta, you'd probably rank the UofA as your first choice fo residency. In fact, about a quarter of the UofA and UofC graduates who stay in Alberta end up at the other Alberta school and overall, the IP match rate of both Alberta schools is similar to UBC's IP match rate . Since BC only has one school, UBC captures all of the folks who want to stay close to home in BC. So the numbers that you quoted while they do add a deal of nuance, might underplay Calgary's home-school advantage.

It gets into the sticky regionalism question.  I agree that not only does it play a role in applicant preferences, but it may play a role in program preferences too - an extension of the "home school" concept, which is pretty blatant.  

2 hours ago, zoxy said:

Also yeah, the home school advantage is biggest in competitive specialties that I was talking about. So I think the overall first choice discipline match rate might not capture the overall success of applicants from a particular school have in matching to competitive specialties in its entirety.  I feel like that with the limit on electives, home school advantage is going to become even bigger since many programs won't be able to evaluate candidate themselves.

It's massive advantage for sure.  Both at the interview and program ranking level.  

  • Getting an interview at "home school" is much more attainable for Derm/Plastics ~80%, although tougher for EM/Opthal ~60-70%.(Page 4).  The away rates for interviews EM/Ophtha are much worse at ~30% and Derm/Plastics ~40-45%. 
  • After the interview - there's still a huge advantage for home school ranking - esp ophthal, plastics, em, urology and surprisingly IM/Peds (~30% boost).  Derm/OBGYN is slightly less drastic, but still very significant.    Even FM it's around a 20% "boost".  Kudos to PHPM to trying to look at every candidate equitably regardless of home/away.

 

Rankingsmall.jpg

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TBH, you don't need to know what you want to do before starting UofC medicine. Maybe my experience is dated but many people didn't know or changed drastically in their interests up to the carms application and still matched "well" (they were happy with specialty they matched to).

I say this because I don't want people to discount UofC if they are undifferentiated in their area of medical interest. You will figure it out, or figure out ways to find your place in the profession.

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