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I interviewed at the UofA program and really liked it. I suspect that many students may rank it poorly because their program director has very high expectations and works their residents very hard. They have an impeccable pass rate on the royal college exams. However, so do many other programs, and I think many are reluctant to sign up for the most intense pathology residency in the country when there are no material benefits (i.e. passing, getting a job), just benefits in self-knowledge, etc.

 

If I had decided to rank pathology as my first choice discipline, I wouldn't have hesitated to go there.

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Hi,

 

I think I can answer your question. Of the schools you listed, I would consider U of A highly.

 

U of A has a really excellent program. They have a world-class transplant pathology program (you'll see things you likely won't see anywhere else in Canada, save perhaps Toronto). The teaching is very good, and the Program Director takes each residents' progress very seriously. I think she is a very strong part of their program. 4 in house exams/year to get you ready for the boards. More research opportunities then you can shake a stick at (residents frequently have to turn down offers to do research). OK facilities. It is in Edmonton. Bottom line: if you go to U of A you will be trained as an excellent pathologist.

 

Newfoundland: very small program. Retention issues are a big issue in terms of staff. Struggling department. Not a good choice.

 

McMaster: can't comment.

 

Go to U of A. I was actually really surprised that they had two spots open.

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I agree that Alberta would be the best choice. It trains the residents very well but it is a general signout throughout all five years (I prefer some subspecialization while learning).

 

McMaster is known to have a lot of friction between staff and residents and not the best learning environment. In Toronto, we have had one resident transfer from Mac to Toronto during the last years of residency (they claim it was due to cultural support in Toronto and nothing to do with the residency program) and another grad came to spend a year learning as they failed the royal college.

 

Can't comment on Memorial.

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UA: Program director has been there for 8 years. She is intense and heavily involved in the training process, but the program does have high pass rates. UA seems to train a disproportionate number of gen path it seems. I'm not certain of the implications (if any) of that. Facilities are very modern. The main reason UA doesn't get matched is probably due to its location.

 

McMaster: Did have issues with staff/resident interactions years ago. My impression was that that has largely resolved in recent years, but that reputation has hung over Mac's head.

 

Newfoundland: Location is undoubtedly an issue, but other than that I can't comment, didn't interview there.

 

Also, some path programs (UT, Ottawa, Queen's, Dal) match through the laboratory medicine stream. You seemed to have overlooked that Queen's also had an unmatched CMG spot. The program at Queen's is small and quite close knit. Facilities are a tad dated, but in the end the residents are well trained and in recent years have gotten excellent fellowships. Again, one of the issues is that Kingston is a small city.

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  • 2 years later...

Nice thread. Let's revive it a little. Does somebody else have other comments/updates on pathology programs across the country ?

 

There was a great post by ubcredfox in another thread regarding this topic. I include it here.

 

''Canada isn't that big. There's really only a few decent Path programs across the country. These are generally in large population centers which allow for a dichotomy of cases and attraction/retention of a larger numbers of pathologists.

 

The better programs across the country are UBC, Edmonton (especially for cardiac pathology), Toronto, McGill (perhaps nosediving a bit now because of the general state of medicine in Quebec) and Dalhousie.

 

I would be very cautious about attending a program that takes only one or two residents a year. You need upper year residents for mentorship. You also need a critical mass to spread out the scut (grossing, autopsies). Larger programs have more staff with greater opportunities for research opportunities, and more importantly, perhaps more connections in helping you land a job and/or fellowship.

 

That's just my take on it. I never did an elective at Mac either, but I haven't heard many good things. The same goes for Sask's GP program, Queen's path program and Memorial's.

 

There is no perfect program by any measure. But I think if you go to a bigger spot then you hedge your bets in a more positive direction rather then being crippled from day one.''

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You'll probably receive good training at any of the Ontario programs. Anecdotally, residents from most of the programs have snagged fellowships at top US institutions. They tend to favour Canadian-trained residents because of more rigorous AP training here. Much of your ranking decision will likely come down to location and where you feel you're the best fit.

 

A brief rundown on the Ontario programs:

 

Toronto - for better or worse, it's a big program with multiple sites. Exposure to a wide variety of cases and pathology. Good flexibility in your PGY1 year. Lots of research opportunities, if that's your thing. Don't expect hand holding. I think it's the only program without call after PGY1, which isn't necessarily a good thing -- call at other programs is usually very quiet, but you still get the call stipend.

 

Western - has a really good vibe. Seems like a supportive program with good staff. Residents seem happy.

 

Mac - it has a (perhaps undeserved) sketchy reputation. However, I've met a couple of fellows who trained there in residency and liked it. I think they had two Royal College failures this year (admittedly, not necessarily a problem with the program, but it still has bad optics).

 

Queen's - small program. Don't know much about it. Seems like a good group of staff and residents.

 

Ottawa - there's been some staff dissatisfaction lately. I think a couple of pathologists left for Montreal in the past year. If the staff aren't happy, it's probably not a great environment for a resident.

 

As with any residency program, make sure you'd be happy living in the city for five years.

 

If you'd consider applying further away, check out UBC or Dalhousie, two other strong programs.

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  • 1 month later...

I think McMaster has lots of problems, almost shot down a few years ago. Lots of despotism and the environment is not enjoyable. I heard that a path resident once had to bring a lawyer to talk to a staff. If you complain ... your death. Also heard that you need to be careful with the program director, a resident that dared to challenge her was paying for it even years after graduating, ... you know .... evaluation for the exam, references etc, its a small community and they get away with murder. Also, many fail the boards, that's an ongoing problem. Having said that, if you can't get in anywhere else, McMaster always has spots open even after 2nd iteration.

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I think McMaster has lots of problems, almost shot down a few years ago. Lots of despotism and the environment is not enjoyable. I heard that a path resident once had to bring a lawyer to talk to a staff. If you complain ... your death. Also heard that you need to be careful with the program director, a resident that dared to challenge her was paying for it even years after graduating, ... you know .... evaluation for the exam, references etc, its a small community and they get away with murder. Also, many fail the boards, that's an ongoing problem. Having said that, if you can't get in anywhere else, McMaster always has spots open even after 2nd iteration.

 

I want to apply to Ontario pathology programs, but your words make me doubtful of applying to Mac. Where did you hear this info? PM me if you are uncomfortable posting it.

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Long time lurker on this forum and I found I just had to reply to this thread. McMaster has had problems in the past and it is unfortunate that this reputation has continued to hang over the program. I am not familiar with any of the specific incidents comonsense mentioned but I know folks currently in the program who are quite happy with it. The environment is described as very collegial with great access to resources. Please don't let issues of the past dissuade you from at least applying to program and making your own informed decision after visiting the site and speaking with the current staff and residents.

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I used to be at Dal Path, and that was a solid program. Generally friendly staff, and good crew of residents when I was there. It's nice that you are at THE referral center for the Maritimes, which means you see a decent amount of volume. Well organized and effecient administration and teaching curriculum. As always, talk to the people that are there now to see if things changed, but otherwise it is a good program.

 

Oh, but keep in mind that R1 year is almost a true rotating internship, so that's generally 1:4 call and lots of ward work. Not nearly as cush as other programs (e.g. McGill). And the R2 year is certainly busy -- the R2's @ Dal are responsible for the autopsies that roll in through the door (so 1-2 per week) so that can get busier especially considering that you are on surg path for almost the entire year as an R2.

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  • 3 months later...
Any take on UBC?

I am not able to decide between Halifax and UBC!

Which one is better?

The ROL deadline is tomorrow:confused:

 

They're both great programs. I would choose based on location. Where are your family and friends? Would you prefer to live in Halifax or Vancouver for five years?

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Halifax is certainly cheaper, though I can't exactly claim anything great about the weather (especially this "spring").

 

ETA: Vancouver is very nice, but you can pretty much forget about buying a house anytime soon, let alone owning anything reasonable even perhaps as staff. Taxes are higher in NS, but the cost-of-living re: housing is much, much less, and there's no carbon tax in NS nor any prospect for one. Resident salaries are better in the Maritimes than in BC. Halifax is a much smaller city, of course, which can be good or bad I suppose.

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I was at Dal Path. Good program. R1 year is tough, but it is tough everywhere, especially in pathology.

 

Halifax is a MUCH nicer place to live then Vancouver. People actually have personalities vs. personality disorders. Patients are also much better on the whole. Friendly, fun and amicable atmosphere. The weather is colder then Van for sure, but nothing compared to Ontario or the middle of Canada.

 

From a resident perspective, the PARI-MP contract is one of the best in the country. So you can't go wrong there, especially compared to PARBC lick balls contract. You will make more money, and spend less on housing.

 

Apartment wise, for $1200/month you can get a nice spot in Halifax, vs. a ****ty spot in Vancouver. Also, in Halifax you are in ONE place for 5 years, w/ the odd rotation in Saint John. In Vancouver you are always commuting your butt from one rotation to the next -- it is my understanding that Van path moves people around to Surrey, New West etc. This would suck.

 

The training at Dal is great; if you go there I know you can get decent fellowships in the states. I'd stay in Canada job market wise.

 

Good luck!

 

If you have any personal reasons of note, it is always better to go with those. In the face of true "life reasons", this discussion re: which is better, is not only moot, but nothing more then mental masturbation.

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UBC!

 

Ya its a little more expensive but at least u got a few sports teams (canucks, lions). Alot of cool places are within a few hours (Victoria, Whistler, Seattle). Also better weather, better nightlife, better entertainment venues, diverse cuisine, and better public transportation.

 

Also if you are a city person, UBC is def your best bet.

 

But again its your choice.

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  • 2 weeks later...

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