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Additional caps on electives beyond national 8-week limit


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For context, I'm a 2nd year in a 3-year program and entering clerkship in February.

We recently chose our electives, and due to COVID19 there ended up being hard caps at the local level on electives in certain fields. For example, there was a 4-week limit on EM, 2-week limit on Derm, 6-week limit on neurology, etc.

Just wondering if students at other schools have similar caps? I'm going for a fairly competitive speciality, so I'm concerned about having limited opportunities for letters, especially because I'm guessing visiting electives aren't going to be possible for my year with how COVID is going...

Currently, I'm just planning on doing my remaining electives in related specialities and hoping that will help me get letters/show interest.

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2 hours ago, offmychestplease said:

so are you saying '23s at your school who want derm are limited with one 2 week elective for derm and due to COVID can't do aways?? How does that work..?

There's no visiting electives. There are still local electives.

There's a 2-week max in derm for anyone who wants to do a local elective.

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if it is equalized across all the schools it is at least "fair" - but that still misses one of the major points of electives. They aren't just evaluating you, you are supposed to be evaluating you. Plus it as a risk of making selecting in the end even more of a lottery. 

Not sure there is much else to do but overall this situation remains rather annoying. 

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On 10/5/2021 at 9:39 PM, offmychestplease said:

so are you saying that for example in the case of derm anyone applying to derm from your school will only have a max 2-week derm elective?? Won't that be siginfcalty hurt those applicants?

Yeah exactly… it seems to me that this puts applicants at a huge disadvantage.

Looking at the program descriptions this year, most programs are saying “due to COVID-19 we recognize it’s hard to get elective and having an on-site elective is not required and having an elective in our speciality is not mandatory.”

But I can’t imagine how a program still wouldn’t prefer someone who has done 8 weeks in a speciality compared to 2 weeks…

Not to mention that clinical exposure has been so limited that even choosing a speciality to begin with has been pretty difficult..

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5 hours ago, zxcccxz said:

Yeah exactly… it seems to me that this puts applicants at a huge disadvantage.

Looking at the program descriptions this year, most programs are saying “due to COVID-19 we recognize it’s hard to get elective and having an on-site elective is not required and having an elective in our speciality is not mandatory.”

But I can’t imagine how a program still wouldn’t prefer someone who has done 8 weeks in a speciality compared to 2 weeks…

Not to mention that clinical exposure has been so limited that even choosing a speciality to begin with has been pretty difficult..

If it makes you feel any better, it was not uncommon in my year that many people could not get more than 2-4 weeks (if they got any weeks at all) in many popular elective areas: derm, family Med (especially rural), ophtho, etc. And that was just because of scarcity of electives and the fact that first assignment was by lottery. In previous years the only way people managed to get multiple electives in certain things was to do them OOP. So a cap may actually ensure you have an opportunity to get more than you might have otherwise. 

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43 minutes ago, Pakoon said:

and thus the CARMS lottery, suddenly became even more of a lottery.

carms will always have luck involved but this does make it worse. It is next to impossible to fully set up some sort of purely merit based system for selecting residents - after all almost all medical students are very smart and hard working so they look quite similar on paper and for quite some time even in person etc. The amount of time and effort to truly separate them out even close to perfectly would take more resources and time than the system has set aside for it. If you are applying broadly most schools never see you clinically, and then somehow an at most 1 hr interview is supposed to let them figure this out (interviews done by people with a limited background in HR ha, which is actually a science into itself). 

For the applicants though - you lose what little chance you had to really see the favour of the various programs to help with ranking. The schools truly are different in approach and culture, which is something you only really get to see I find if you are there talking to real people and well just seeing it in action. The odds of getting a bad fit increase even if you do get the speciality you want. 

I don't think this really will put anyone in a huge disadvantage as the opportunities will be equalized. It will be "fair" - but of course just rolling a dice to decide who gets what is fair as everyone gets the same chance. Being fair is not enough to make a system good, but we are still stuck dealing with covid. Hopefully by next year we will finally be out of this mess. 

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4 minutes ago, rmorelan said:

carms will always have luck involved but this does make it worse. It is next to impossible to fully set up some sort of purely merit based system for selecting residents - after all almost all medical students are very smart and hard working so they look quite similar on paper and for quite some time even in person etc. The amount of time and effort to truly separate them out even close to perfectly would take more resources and time than the system has set aside for it. If you are applying broadly most schools never see you clinically, and then somehow an at most 1 hr interview is supposed to let them figure this out (interviews done by people with a limited background in HR ha, which is actually a science into itself). 

For the applicants though - you lose what little chance you had to really see the favour of the various programs to help with ranking. The schools truly are different in approach and culture, which is something you only really get to see I find if you are there talking to real people and well just seeing it in action. The odds of getting a bad fit increase even if you do get the speciality you want. 

I don't think this really will put anyone in a huge disadvantage as the opportunities will be equalized. It will be "fair" - but of course just rolling a dice to decide who gets what is fair as everyone gets the same chance. Being fair is not enough to make a system good, but we are still stuck dealing with covid. Hopefully by next year we will finally be out of this mess. 

I agree with everything said here, save for the statement that "the opportunities will be equalized", as it is still too early to tell how it will affect students. I know not every school has a program in every specialty, and i can say with decent confidence that while overall "away" electives may not be happening, many of the schools will be giving different limits on the amount of electives their students can take in a particular area. 2 weeks may be the cap at McMasters, but may not be the case at Toronto. Of course if they standardize the weeks across the board I would agree that it is fair. But the overall take away i am seeing from this is that it gives more control to the admin at particular schools to do as they please vs the more standardize (although still chaotic) approach the AFMC provided.

overall i am interested to see if these elective limit caps are implemented canada wide and if  many schools will let students get away with more.I really think how they do this is what will really determine the effect this has on the CARMS Lottery .

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3 hours ago, Pakoon said:

I agree with everything said here, save for the statement that "the opportunities will be equalized", as it is still too early to tell how it will affect students. I know not every school has a program in every specialty, and i can say with decent confidence that while overall "away" electives may not be happening, many of the schools will be giving different limits on the amount of electives their students can take in a particular area. 2 weeks may be the cap at McMasters, but may not be the case at Toronto. Of course if they standardize the weeks across the board I would agree that it is fair. But the overall take away i am seeing from this is that it gives more control to the admin at particular schools to do as they please vs the more standardize (although still chaotic) approach the AFMC provided.

overall i am interested to see if these elective limit caps are implemented canada wide and if  many schools will let students get away with more.I really think how they do this is what will really determine the effect this has on the CARMS Lottery .

If they haven't harmonized then yeah that will be an issue. Usually the schools get together at least and try to do that (and have done so in the past for the most part and I was operating until the general assumption they will try to do so again). They also usually are operating under similar university wide rules as well which are outside of their control. You are correct though if they don't sync up it will cause issues. Similarly if they do sync up but your school doesn't even have the program you are interested in (ahem.....derm!) then you have has a clear issue there. 

 

Edited by rmorelan
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