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FAQ: Northern Ontario Status and Context Score


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Hi everyone - we regularly get questions about obtaining a northern ontario status and the context score on this subForum on the board. Rather than repeating the content over and over, we have decided to create a sticky thread here to centralize information. Thanks to Real Beef for the suggestion and I suspect a major contributor to the sticky's content.

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Thanks rmorelan!

 

The Northern Ontario School of Medicine's vision is innovative education and research for a healthier North.

 

One of the many ways it believes it will achieve this is by increasing the number of physicians and health professionals with the leadership, knowledge and skills to practice in Northern Ontario.

 

Medical education research quite clearly shows that physicians' practice location is strongly influenced by where he/she spent a significant portion of their lives growing up, where they went to school and so on. Therefore in an effort to increase the number of physicians in the North a significant portion of the pre-interview score and ultimately the final score is made up by what NOSM calls the "Context score" which is an unknown formula they use to calculate this important score which is anecdotally made up up everywhere you have lived to the time of your application multiplied in some fashion by a time multiplier, where you went to high school, these locations rurality and communities presence in what NOSM considers Northern Ontario.

 

I will sift through some of the older valuable posts and cut and paste them into this thread giving credit to who posted so people can review the information here in a nice central location.

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A great post by lwu018 below:

 

----------------------------

 

Context (i.e. where you lived and are currently living, and potentially Francophone and / or Aboriginal status) counts for approximately 1/3 of your pre-interview score. With that said, it's certainly an uphill battle to be accepted if you don't have at least a moderate to high context score.

 

Unfortunately, no one can say what is required to receive a moderate to high context score as that information is not disclosed. However, I think it is clear that the majority of context points are awarded for having lived / living in a Northern community rather than in a rural community. I've heard from several students currently attending NOSM that the majority of their colleagues are from Sudbury or Thunderbay. The stats on NOSM websites also confirms NOSM's preference for applicants who have lived in Northern Ontario - http://www.nosm.ca/classprofiles/ . Another point, which is definitely more biased (so don't take it too seriously), is my own personal experience. I was informed by one of NOSM's admissions officers 2 years back that my context score for that year's application was relatively low. I threw out some guesses of around 3 - 4 out of 10 and the admissions officer thought it would likely be lower. I grew up in a town outside of Northern Ontario with an RIO in the low 60s - https://www.oma.org/PublicApp/nlp/NLPWF003.aspx (Note that the RIO is a tool used by MOH-LTC, not NOSM, to measure the relative rurality of communities in Ontario, although I'm assuming NOSMs formula has some overlap).

 

Nonetheless, it seems as though I was still able to get an interview with a relatively low context score, so I would say everyone with some rural living experience has a small chance at the very least, assuming other areas of their applications are strong. Actually, I remember running into a girl at last year's interview who claimed she had never lived in either a rural or Northern community! For myself, simply having had the opportunity to interview over the past 2 years has given me all the motivation I need to continue pursuing medicine, so even though I didn't get accepted in the end, applying was unquestionably beneficial for me.

 

All to say, I think it is certainly possible to make it to the interview stage (which can have some great benefits on its own) and even get accepted, although the odds are certainly stacked against those who have not lived in Northern Ontario.

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An excerpt from one of my older posts

 

---------------------

 

No one besides the adcom knows how the context score calculation works. If you look through some posts from lasts years pre-interview time period you will see some speculating on rurality and similar so I wont repeat that here.

 

A few quick points however

1) Historically very few OOP applicants are accepted

2) how close your community you live in (have lived in) is to a urban center is a factor even if the population is small. For example that 800 pop. town you lived in wouldnt count for much if 20 minutes away there is a 500k pop. city.

3) Where you did high school seems to factor in (rural highschool, etc)

 

Beef

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A previous post by jojoluvsu2

 

------------------

 

I believe (I can't for the life of me remember where I read this, somewhere on the NOSM page) that preinterview is 1/3 GPA, 1/3 Context, 1/3 application (answers to questions + ECs). After interview, that whole chunk becomes 50% and the interview counts for 50%.

 

Context therefore essentially becomes 1/6 of your application. If you got an interview on perhaps the lower end of the pre-interview score, you will need a stellar interview to make up for it. As they stated in their letters announcing interview invites they cut the number to ~320 as those under that score never received acceptance so their scores were insurmountable with even a top notch interview. If you got an interview, clearly your context score wasn't so low that you were in that bottom 320-400 people who weren't given interviews this year.

 

Nothing is impossible, but be prepared to give the interview of your life to make up for a weaker context score.

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A previous post of mine

 

------------

I have noticed NOSM is quite veiled in their responses regarding context. Knowing their boundaries and typically what is Northern Ontario is helpful.

 

Some information I dug up:

 

The context score is based on algorithm that assigns a score to an applicant based on the community or communities of residence while living in Canada. This algorithm is not published as it is felt that applicants will then submit fraudulent information on their residential history in order to obtain a better score.

The context score is calculated by a computer program that has been developed by a Laurentian University Professor in conjunction with the Office of Admissions. The Laurentian Professor has been hired each year as a consultant to aid the Office of Admissions in the calculating of this context score.

 

As I have mentioned many times that after an outright rejection I was told that my context score was low. I was told that at 5 years you are given certain number of points and after 10 years you get more. That is too simplified given the fact that it is a complex algorithm suggesting you would get additional points/scoring given even incremental increases in northern residence and rural residence.

 

Anyhow this application cycle prior to applying I sent them the following email:

 

Hello,

 

I am preparing my application and was curious as to whether I am considered a Northern Ontario resident. I have lived and worked in Northern Ontario, on Manitoulin Island for going on 6 years.

 

 

I noted that many of the posted internal scholarships have 10 years in NO as the cut off for eligibility and wondered whether this was similar for NO resident status. I understand there is nothing I can do about my length of stay in NO however I still wished to understand whether my context would be considered weak, moderate or strong, When I first applied to NOSM I had only lived in NO for two years and knew that this was a severe weakness at the time.

 

Now I have been here for 6 years, completed a graduate degree while working full time to raise my GPA to a 3.9 (with the additional 0.2) and hope that this will have sufficiently improved my application to be a successful candidate.

 

 

Thank you ahead of time for any insight you can provide.

 

Their response:

 

Dear XXXX,

 

Thank you for your continued interest in the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM).

 

To answer your first question, we cannot pre-assess your application context score.

 

We are looking for a concrete, demonstrated interest in living and working in northern Ontario, and/or other rural, remote or northern urban communities in Canada. Volunteer experience, work experience, extracurricular activities and research are all areas one can endeavour to demonstrate this interest.

 

The applications to NOSM are initially screened and scored based on three components: one) the GPA; two) the application questionnaire & autobiographical sketch and; three) context. The context score is based on where you have lived and are living in Canada. The value of each component is approximately 1/3. It is the combination of the scores from these three components that will determine if one advances to the interview stage.

 

However, it is important to be aware that the mandate of the Admissions Committee of NOSM is to reflect the demographics of Northern Ontario in the medical school class. To this end, a modest advantage is given in the admissions process to applicants who are from northern Ontario and other parts of rural and remote Canada as well as Francophone applicants & Aboriginal applicants.

 

Our admissions policies are based upon our mandate to be socially accountable to the cultural diversity of the region. Evidence of this mandate can also be found in the School's curriculum, administrative structure, research program, student demographics, continuing education program, and more. Thus, the aim is to admit applicants such that our class profile will reflect the demographics of the population of northern Ontario. It is the intention of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine to maximize the recruitment of students who are from northern Ontario and/or students who have a strong interest in and aptitude for practicing medicine in Northern urban, rural and remote Canadian communities.

 

We do not disclosure the manner in which an applicant's context score is calculated nor do we provide an exact length of time in which an applicant must resident in northern Ontario or other rural and remote regions of Canada. Furthermore, we cannot tell you/guide you on how/what you should do in order to demonstrate a strong interest in and aptitude for practicing medicine in northern urban, rural and remote communities. This is entirely up to you.

 

If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Office of Admissions again at admissions@nosm.ca

 

Best regards,

Admissions and Recruitment

Northern Ontario School of Medicine

Email: admissions@nosm.ca

http://www.nosm.ca

Toll Free: 1 800 461 8777

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  • 5 months later...

Thanks Beef and everyone that has shared their input. It is very kind of you and very appreciated.

 

I just have a question about some of the posts which hint at receiving some degree of information/feedback:

 

lwu018, quoted by beef: "I was informed by one of NOSM's admissions officers 2 years back that my context score for that year's application was relatively low. I threw out some guesses of around 3 - 4 out of 10 and the admissions officer thought it would likely be lower"

 

beef, self-quoted: "As I have mentioned many times that after an outright rejection I was told that my context score was low. I was told that at 5 years you are given certain number of points and after 10 years you get more."

 

Would I be correct to say that you can somehow actually speak to an admissions officer and get feedback? I've emailed admissions and been unsuccessful in getting any such feedback.

 

Thanks again guys.

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Having spoken to Lwu018 after last years application cycle it would seem that NOSM no longer allows for post-rejection feedback/ file review which was possible in the past. It is this problem that you are running in to.

 

If you applied this cycle, were rejected and have asked for some feedback recently via email I wouldnt count on any immediate feedback as they are quite busy with the ongoing application cycle. At best you will get some generic looking email response that does not necessarily answer your question directly as they would not do a individual file review.

 

I am not sure what is done now for individuals requesting an appointment with an admissions officer/ staff unrelated to their active application, lets say in the summer. However keep in mind that the context formula is not published so you would not get any quantitative answer anyway.

 

Beef

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  • 5 months later...

So, having it been said that the context scoring is a bit of a secret, can anyone comment on how much these experiences would likely help my context score?

 

Grew up in rural (but not northern) Newfoundland. Grades K-10, lots of ECs, volunteering, community involvement.

 

Did grade 11 in Rural Northern Manitoba, some sports ECs

 

Grade 12, first UG, Winnipeg :(

 

Between first and second UGs, returned to Northern Manitoba to work as a secretary in the community clinic. Volunteered on the fire department and ambulance brigade for one year.

 

Moved back to urban Manitoba, but got a job 100km north of Winnipeg in a small (but really not northern) town as a public health nurse. Kind of the epitome of community involvement, as well working with underserved populations (I do quite a bit of work with the aboriginal community as well as some work directly on the reserves)

 

Does NOSM look for work with vulnerable populations? During my urban time, I worked for 4 years as a developmental disabilities nurse (IMHO, the most vulnerable and underserved population there is). I loved every minute of it.

 

Does anyone see many points here? I'm probably going to do another UG specifically so I can apply here, but if it appears my context score will likely be crapola, I might reconsider.

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NOSM does seem to give credit for other rural Canadian experiences. It does not care about whether geographically you are Northern in other provinces, though that tends to be rural in most cases. So if you are rural and a distance from major urbam centers there is probably something in it for your context score though it is all speculation.

 

You already have 2 undergrad degrees? What is your GPA for each one? Not sure why you would want to do a third UG. You will not get geographic credit for your context score while you pursue an UG. You do get credit on your context score if you work in a rual/Northern place. From my understanding, going to Laurentian or Lakehead for an UG will do nothing for your context score ... I am pretty sure this has been answered in some admissions sessions.

 

I dont mean to be a party pooper however I dont want you to waste years of your life doing a third undergrad or moving to the North without understanding some of these ideas are not based on fact. Good luck.

 

Not applying is the sure fire way to guarantee non-admission, so I would apply with your current package and see where it takes you.

 

Beef

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NOSM does seem to give credit for other rural Canadian experiences. It does not care about whether geographically you are Northern in other provinces, though that tends to be rural in most cases. So if you are rural and a distance from major urbam centers there is probably something in it for your context score though it is all speculation.

 

You already have 2 undergrad degrees? What is your GPA for each one? Not sure why you would want to do a third UG. You will not get geographic credit for your context score while you pursue an UG. You do get credit on your context score if you work in a rual/Northern place. From my understanding, going to Laurentian or Lakehead for an UG will do nothing for your context score ... I am pretty sure this has been answered in some admissions sessions.

 

I dont mean to be a party pooper however I dont want you to waste years of your life doing a third undergrad or moving to the North without understanding some of these ideas are not based on fact. Good luck.

 

Not applying is the sure fire way to guarantee non-admission, so I would apply with your current package and see where it takes you.

 

Beef

 

 

 

I did my first 2 UGs without any intentions of getting into medicine. I literally just wanted to graduate. My second UG would be ok, but since it the first half was a done in college (the portion that I finished with a 4.0), most universities don't count it. Also the Ontario grading scale pulled me down too. Either way, In my post secondary experience, whenever I've applied myself with a goal of getting As, I've gotten them (and though they were college courses, the were not easy, it's where I learned all my anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology). Even without my college courses, my GPA is above the cutoff, just not competitive. So, if the question is the capacity to get a good GPA in another degree, it won't be an issue. The purpose of the third UG would not be to improve my context score, it would be to make my GPA competitive. And I wouldn't be moving or devoting years of my life to this third UG. I only need 10 courses which I could do online in 6-8 months. I'm not applying this year regardless, I'm going to apply where I'm IP first. But this is my first application cycle and I'm not holding my breath for an interview invite. I'm trying to formulate a plan to maximize my chances of admission for the next cycle. Also, the courses that I would be doing for my 3rd UG would really help boost my GPA for my IP school where I will be reapplying to next year.

 

Another question: How much would my experience help me in the autobiographical sketch portion?

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Hey MDmaybebaby!

 

I am currently in the process of completing a second UG to obtain a better GPA. What is your GPA currently? It may be worthwhile pursuing a masters degree and getting the additional 0.2 GPA added to your UG GPA as NOSM does.

 

I would think that NOSM would look at a masters degree as potentially more valuable than a 3rd UG. I suppose it all depends on you GPA's from your other two degrees (I would think a 3.5 or over would be pretty good since a masters would bring you to 3.7 or more).

 

I would definitely apply and see what happens. This is my first year applying to NOSM myself. I won't be done my second UG so they will be going off of my first UG GPA, but at least I can familiarize myself with the process while I finish off my second UG (currently holding a 3.8, plus I have a Masters for an extra 0.2). Just need to keep working hard and apply.

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My GPA is less than 3.5 on the OMAS scale, so I don't think I would bother applying with that. Right now I'm just focusing on getting a really competitive MCAT which would overcome my GPA at the U of M. If I need to go back and get anoth UG or do a masters I will. I'm trying to figure out what my options are with my low GPA. without doing a masters or another UG, my best bet is probably U of M due to their high emphasis on the MCAT. But if it turned out I would have a good context score, NOSM would be something I could think about for the next application cycle.

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  • 1 year later...

Hello, 

I started following this forum now and will be applying to NOSM this September, 2016. I would like to know if my context score will be at least moderate. I know there is no clear cut answer to how this score is calculated but I would appreciate your thoughts on it. I am super anxious and worry about this section of my application. 

-I immigrated to Canada when I was 10, and I do not believe they take this into consideration, correct me if I am wrong. 

-I lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia for approximately 2 years 
-I moved to Charlottetown, PEI and lived there for a year
-I moved to Barrie, and lived there for 5 years (Completed high school there)
-Final move to Thunder Bay in 2012, and attended post-secondary here and this year will be my 5th year here in TBay. 

 

I would really appreciate your thoughts !! 

Thanks. 
 

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Hello, 

 

I started following this forum now and will be applying to NOSM this September, 2016. I would like to know if my context score will be at least moderate. I know there is no clear cut answer to how this score is calculated but I would appreciate your thoughts on it. I am super anxious and worry about this section of my application. 

 

-I immigrated to Canada when I was 10, and I do not believe they take this into consideration, correct me if I am wrong. 

-I lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia for approximately 2 years 

-I moved to Charlottetown, PEI and lived there for a year

-I moved to Barrie, and lived there for 5 years (Completed high school there)

-Final move to Thunder Bay in 2012, and attended post-secondary here and this year will be my 5th year here in TBay. 

 

I would really appreciate your thoughts !! 

 

Thanks. 

 

Nobody knows how NOSM calculates the score, but most of us speculate it comes from where you spent high school and then if you have lived and worked in a northern/rural community after university (where you go to university doesn't count as far as we can figure out). 

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Hello, 

 

I started following this forum now and will be applying to NOSM this September, 2016. I would like to know if my context score will be at least moderate. I know there is no clear cut answer to how this score is calculated but I would appreciate your thoughts on it. I am super anxious and worry about this section of my application. 

 

-I immigrated to Canada when I was 10, and I do not believe they take this into consideration, correct me if I am wrong -pretty sure doesn't count either for or against you

-I lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia for approximately 2 years  - major city, pretty sure doesn't count as rural/remote

-I moved to Charlottetown, PEI and lived there for a year- another capital city, although much smaller than Halifax, I don't think would technically be considered rural/remote, but maybe slightly is prob as far as I'd think it would go

-I moved to Barrie, and lived there for 5 years (Completed high school there)- definitely not rural/remote, was used as an example at last year's summer info session that Barrie doesn't get you any points even though it's far-ish from Toronto

-Final move to Thunder Bay in 2012, and attended post-secondary here and this year will be my 5th year here in TBay.- the years after post-secondary probably are the only ones that will significantly affect the context score

 

I would really appreciate your thoughts !! 

 

Thanks. 

 

These are just my thoughts so take it with a grain of salt. Personally, I don't think there's enough context here to give a competitive score in this area if really only one year has been in TBay after post-secondary with the other locations being no/iffy for context...just my opinion. They do consider other areas pre-interview too, so maybe if you knock the academics/ABS/Supplementary questions/EC's out of the park, you could still get an interview. In the final hurdle, it will be really tough though I think.

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  • 4 months later...

Hey, 

 

I am hoping someone would be able to comment on my NOSM context score. 

 

I moved to Thunder Bay and went to high school there for one year. I also worked and volunteered in the city while in high school. I did my undergrad in southern Ontario but my home address and family is still in Thunder Bay. I have done medical research in Northern Ontario around aboriginal health and I have published some research focused on marginalized populations and their access to health care. 

I would really appreciate if anyone could let me know how an applicant like me would be evaluated :)   

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey, 

 

I am hoping someone would be able to comment on my NOSM context score. 

 

I moved to Thunder Bay and went to high school there for one year. I also worked and volunteered in the city while in high school. I did my undergrad in southern Ontario but my home address and family is still in Thunder Bay. I have done medical research in Northern Ontario around aboriginal health and I have published some research focused on marginalized populations and their access to health care. Not sure if this matters but my parents are physicians and teach at NOSM (not mentioning this for connections obviously but this is one reason I would want to stay in the north). 

 

I would really appreciate if anyone could let me know how an applicant like me would be evaluated :)   

 

How many years total have you spent in Northern Ontario according to your omsas application under supplementary info for NOSM?  I imagine that is one of the most important factors when calculating context score.

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  • 3 months later...

Thanks rmorelan!

 

The Northern Ontario School of Medicine's vision is innovative education and research for a healthier North.

 

One of the many ways it believes it will achieve this is by increasing the number of physicians and health professionals with the leadership, knowledge and skills to practice in Northern Ontario.

 

Medical education research quite clearly shows that physicians' practice location is strongly influenced by where he/she spent a significant portion of their lives growing up, where they went to school and so on. Therefore in an effort to increase the number of physicians in the North a significant portion of the pre-interview score and ultimately the final score is made up by what NOSM calls the "Context score" which is an unknown formula they use to calculate this important score which is anecdotally made up up everywhere you have lived to the time of your application multiplied in some fashion by a time multiplier, where you went to high school, these locations rurality and communities presence in what NOSM considers Northern Ontario.

 

I will sift through some of the older valuable posts and cut and paste them into this thread giving credit to who posted so people can review the information here in a nice central location.

Hi

I lived in Bracebridge area for almost 4 years however I grew up in another country and went to school there. I came back to toronto after almost four years due to personal reason. Am I be eligble to apply to NOSM ?or do they stricly look at people who have spent their whole life in Northern areas?

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Hi

I lived in Bracebridge area for almost 4 years however I grew up in another country and went to school there. I came back to toronto after almost four years due to personal reason. Am I be eligble to apply to NOSM ?or do they stricly look at people who have spent their whole life in Northern areas?

 

Hi memoli,

 

Anyone can apply to NOSM, but roughly 95% who get in each year are from Northern Ontario with the other 5% being from other rural and remote parts of Canada.  Were you an adult when you lived in Bracebridge for 4 years?  Unless you spent high school years or time as an adult (or both) in a northern Ontario community I imagine your chances are slim.

 

RR

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  • 2 months later...

Hi memoli,

 

Anyone can apply to NOSM, but roughly 95% who get in each year are from Northern Ontario with the other 5% being from other rural and remote parts of Canada.  Were you an adult when you lived in Bracebridge for 4 years?  Unless you spent high school years or time as an adult (or both) in a northern Ontario community I imagine your chances are slim.

 

RR

When they say francophone, do I have any chance to be accepted since i'm from Quebec and i'm francophone (will my 1/3 context score be hight ?) 

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When they say francophone, do I have any chance to be accepted since i'm from Quebec and i'm francophone (will my 1/3 context score be hight ?) 

 

It's my understanding that being francophone is an asset if you are from Northern Ontario - NOSM's mandate is to be socially accountable to the communities it serves.  But being francophone has nothing to do with your context score.  If you grew up in rural (ex. St-Aubert) or remote (Kuujuac) in Quebec then your context score would be high, I imagine.

 

RR

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