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What is your goal? Where do you eventually want to end up?

The other purpose of doing far-flung electives is to show on paper that you would consider moving for residency. If all your electives are in a small geographical region, programs outside that area may consider it a waste to give an interview spot to someone who will be unlikely to come. It also allows you to make a more informed assessment of programs you are potentially interested in, although that doesn't seem to be the case here.

When you say strong, are we talking top 25% of the class, or star (in the top 5% of applicants across the country that year)? Most letters that applicants receive are strong. The lack of grades in English schools makes it difficult to compare (unless it's obvious that the applicant is at the top of the class). 

Those programs who place emphasis on elective performance do so because they are trying to gain the type of information that is *not* captured in letters/grades/CV. For example, the residents may spend time interacting with you to assess whether you'd be a good fit as a colleague.

I agree that not all programs may place emphasis on trying to evaluate students on elective, but those programs who do attempt to do so are usually able to form an opinion as to the strength of the candidate relative to others. Other posts have covered how to make a good impression on radiology electives despite their relatively passive nature. 

If you have done well on your other clinical rotations, why do you think you will only give off a mediocre impression? I do agree that if you cannot perform well, you are better off staying home... But a strong elective performance (for those programs that emphasize it) can give a similar home field advantage that can extend to the post-interview stage.

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If I were in your shoes, I'd consolidate my strengths by doing radiology electives almost entirely within Quebec.  The French programs in radiology do seem to put quite a bit of emphasis on grades and the language will play to your strengths.  I think it could be a good idea to try an elective outside the province, perhaps a program that you are very drawn to.  Given that you aren't as used to working in English, it will give you a chance to see how things are, possibly thinking towards a future fellowship.  But if you feel you can work as effectively in English as in French, then you could consider doing more electives outside the province if there are programs that you are more drawn to.  

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If you're willing to go anywhere in the country for residency, then I think it would be worth doing at least one elective outside Quebec. Yes, it will cost you, and there is no guarantee of success. But it will be the same for the fellowship and job application process. How much are you willing to invest to increase your chances? 

It's still not clear to me why you think you would be an average elective student, if you are performing in top 20% on clinical rotations. Not everyone in an English program is a native English speaker either (but they are fluent and can write well, like you).

Best advice I can give is to check out the CaRMS program directory. Each program provides a formal statement on the importance of electives.

But again, if you are going to do an away elective, go with the aim of impressing. Be someone that they want to recruit. Don't give the impression that you are treating it as a "check box", because that will be remembered negatively and it would be better if you had never done the elective.

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I'm entering PGY1 rads at McGill (also my home school). When planning my rads electives, I decided on one out west (to appreciate the differences in practice and culture outside of QC) and one in UdeM (to appreciate reporting in French). I know that my peers interested in rads did more external electives than I have, and outside of QC, there is more of a push to do outside electives in general. Also, given how rads electives are generally set up, it may be difficult to secure a good letter of recommendation from a staff radiologist, so signing up for more rads electives increases those chances. As for whether all of this matters during CaRMS, it's difficult to tell because radiology is variable every year and doesn't seem to follow any obvious trend. For example, UdeM had three vacant spots that were filled in the second iteration this year, while all other schools had all their spots filled in the first iteration. In addition, when there are a lot of applicants in a particular year, I would imagine a program may resort to looking at specifically the locations you've done your electives to shorten the list.

From my own experience on the CaRMS interview tour, I didn't see any UdeM students outside of QC schools or UOttawa. Regrettably, UdeM students are faced with many barriers, including language, the east-west cultural divide, difficulty in arranging for outside electives, and having clerkship duties during the interview weeks. As for addressing your specific question regarding specific programs, I unfortunately don't have any more information than what the CaRMS site has.


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  • 2 weeks later...

There are no programs that would only interview past elective candidates.

However, you have much better odds of landing interviews at schools where you have done electives. Anecdotally, I have noticed that the smaller the program, the more they value a past elective at interview selection. At my institution for example, even if we thought you were average, we'd still probably interview you if you did an elective here. You just have to prove that you're not a weirdo and/or asshole. If you are likeable, bright, and keen-but-not-too-keen, you should be very confident at an interview.

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