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Choosing The Right Medical School (Mac, Western, Queens)

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Hey all,


I've been thinking about all the things that matter the most when selecting the right medical school. Here's the list of questions that I have been considering, that I will revise:


  1. Which school best prepares you for residency? (CARMs data)
  2. What kind of learning style is emphasized at the school and does this suit you? (personal preference)
  3. Are there sufficient opportunities for observerships, research?
  4. "Sense of community". (every school I went to would boast about this. Felt like it was the same everywhere)

Is there anything you would add to this?


From the looks of it, the CARMs data doesn't really help discriminate between the various medical schools. Most schools have good years and bad years and the 2014 data at least showed that they're all pretty even in match rates. Overall match rates are 95%+ for every school.




Here are the numbers I was looking at:

% of students who match to 1st choice program choice 

Western - 50%

McMaster - 58%

UofT - 61%

Queens - 60%


% of students who match to 1st choice discipline

all schools between 92-94%


CMGs Who Ranked Family Medicine as 1st Choice by School of Graduation

Western - 40%

McMaster - 40%

UofT - 34%

Queens - 23% !!  (surprising)




If the stats are pretty even, then I'm assuming that which school you choose wouldn't affect how your career unfolds (please comment)! In that case, it would come down to a matter of personal preference. I don't care about the teaching style, I'm pretty flexible. I prefer to be close to home and a place where my engineer girlfriend can find work (Toronto or Hamilton). Thoughts??



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Keep in mind that the stats you post are for a single year and subject to change. There are some general trends in where people from each school go, but those stats really shouldn't matter to an individual. You can get into any specialty at any school and your chances of getting that specialty isn't really school-dependent. The match stats often say more about the preferences of the students than anything else.


Overall curriculum is a bit different between schools, Mac having a notably different approach. There is always a large component of self-directed learning, regardless of the teaching style, and if you're not too concerned about it anyway, it's probably safe to discount when making your decision.


Location is probably the more relevant factor for most people. Some schools may be a better or worse fit, but ultimately those differences are minor and can be overcome, maybe with a little extra effort. However, no amount of effort or willpower will move friends or family closer to you, and they can't provide for your partner's career if they are coming with you. Also, while people commonly switch schools between med school and residency (especially in Ontario), the plurality at each school stays at their med school for residency. Student preferences probably play the greatest role in that trend, but it's hard to argue that you don't have a leg up at your home school - the exposure you get to faculty at your home school (and the exposure they get to you) really isn't comparable to the exposure you'll get at other schools. People also tend to practice where they did their residency, so it all kind of continues. If you want to eventually practice in a particular city, it's probably best to go to medical school there (though it's certainly possible to move there for residency or practice if that isn't an option).


Ultimately, I made my decision based on location, in large part because of what would be best for my girlfriend's employment prospects, just as you're considering. It's a choice I would gladly make again.

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Well, that makes it seem like location is important to you, making Mac a logical choice. Based on your initial 4 questions, all 3 schools are quite similar. Queen's and Western have similar curriculums, with Mac having more responsibility put on the student for independent learning (and 1 less school year).


You're right in that the school you choose doesn't impact how well you can match to your first choice specialty. Of note, this year Queen's matched 41% to family medicine. The 2014 class was quite different than the 2015 class.

Edited by thatonekid
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