View Full Version : Family Medicine at McMaster
02-23-2003, 07:15 PM
Could you share with us some of the pros and cons of Family Medicine at McMaster, if you're willing?? I'm seriously considering it...any advice??
P.S. I'll move this to the 'Residency' section shortly!!
03-06-2003, 09:38 AM
That's a pretty broad question, and it would be difficult to write a short answer that will encompass everything.
You see, I'm smack in the middle of coordinating a move to another city right now (while still doing a rotation full-time) so I don't have a whole lot of time to write a big chunk on the subject... but I'd love to help! I've been part of the our program's preparation for the College accreditation in April, so I've got a pretty good idea of what is working well and what isn't.
Maybe if you asked more specific questions in the interim, I'd be able to fire off some quickie responses or something.
03-07-2003, 09:44 AM
Thanks for the reply...sorry, not exactly a specific question...I guess I was just wondering about the pros and cons from a residents' perspective, what have you really enjoyed about the program and what have you found to be a challenge? I've already been searching the CaRMS website and know much about the program from what's on paper, which is somewhat helpful...any insight into why there are still 14 spots open after the 1st round???
I was also wondering about Mac's 3rd year options, specifically ER. Now, what I've heard about this 3rd year hasn't been too positive...could you shed some light??
As of now, I'm somewhat leaning towards Mac simply because of geography, my husband works in Toronto but we live in Oakville (aka...we don't want to move...) but I really should know more about the program....
Anyways, thanks in advance for your time, I greatly appreciate it!! ....must get to class!
03-09-2003, 03:33 PM
Given that I'm scheduled to start my CCFP-EM PGY-3 training year in July at McMaster, your statement definitely caught my attention! I've heard very little bad press on what I'm getting into, and am very much looking forward to it. I'm curious to hear that the rumour mill has churned out about the program I'm about to enter.
I should dig out the results of the pre-accreditation survey I did amongst the Family Medicine residents based out of the McMaster Family Practice site. Over several "rant" sessions, we built up an extensive list of pros and cons about the site and the program in general.
They're packed in a box somewhere around here. :o
As for how the program fared in this year's "CaRMage," I have no answers for you. I found out shortly after the results were released at an education committee meeting, and you could hear a pin drop. There have been no major changes between this year and the last, yet McMaster filled all its spots with ease last yeat, and this year ended up one of the worst if not the worst match out of all the family medicine programs in the country. Geez. Worse than Western, even. That hurts (Speaking as a UWO grad, natch). :)
03-09-2003, 03:54 PM
I wrote out a list, but the computer just ate it. Off the top of my head, here's what I recall from my fellow residents:
- Collegial learning atomsphere. Friendly/supportive.
- Excellent role models for the delivery of comprehensive primary care, with and without obstetrics.
- Emphasis on evidence-based medicine, but they don't beat you over the head with it the way the rumours about McMaster would have you believe.
- Majority of staff MDs very enthusiastic about teaching.
- Family Medicine residents on other rotations generally treated as part of the team, and not like "second class" physicians.
- Paeds rotation concentrates on ambulatory/quick-care cases more relevant to family medicine than being on a specialty inpatient ward
- Recent change in Internal Medicine. We used to have to do two months of team medicine in PGY-1 AND AGAIN in PGY-2. As of my year, the PGY-2 two month block has been opened up for selectives instead, on top of the three months of elective time you already get that year.
- Mandatory geriatrics rotation DIDN'T SUCK!
- OB/GYN at St. Josephs... work with OBs and Family MDs who do deliveries. Mostly uncomplicated bread & butter, so you can concentrate on the kind of cases that will actually walk into your office.
- During full-time family medicine, weekend call is combined amongst the three in-city sites. Results in high-volume urgent care (including urgent clinic) exposure on weekends, with reduced weekend call frequency. Opportunity to have a life? Maybe?
- Scheduling flexibility, and the most supportive Departmental support staff you could ever ask for (Maryann sees all, and Maryann knows all).
- +++ support for research interests
- Formal preparation for the CCFP exam, including several formal "simulated office oral" exams.
- 4 weeks of level-II NICU, when 2 would suffice
- 2 half days back/week when off-service
- ER at HHSC sites highly rated, but questions raised about problems in the ER rotation at St. Joes (this is being addressed)
- Mandatory QA/Chart Audit project can be time consuming, but this is a CCFP requirement
- Educational rounds are hit-and-miss. Be prepared to be "self-directed"
Two other quickies. I should clarify the two half days back. One is academic, in the form of a "Behavioural Sciences" afternoon (aka "BS"). Instead of a formal inpatient psychiatry rotation, we meet with fellow residents once a week to cover behavioural/psychiatric topics relevant to family medicine. Small group/PBL format for the most part, very "Mac-like." We also spend time covering specific cases and challenges we may have faced in the office, including videotape review of interactions and work on the "process" as well as "diagnosis" and "treatment."
The other half-day back is clinical. When you're off service, you come back one afternoon a week to see your patients in the family practice office from where you're based. Allows for valuable continuity-of-care. I've been careful to collect and identify my own "cadre" of patients who identify me as their primary physician, so I get to follow them even when I'm doing other rotations.
Both half-days have their good and bad aspects. It can be a pain losing two afternoons a week when you're off service, especially on Internal Medicine when your scut load doesn't go away just because you're only there in the morning. But overall, they've been good to me.
I'm happy with my experience at McMaster, and feel it's prepared me well for my exam and for practice. Now if only I could stop typing and get back to the books.
Hope this helps.
03-09-2003, 06:29 PM
Thanks Rupinder, I really, really appreciate your time, your posts were extremely helpful...sorry for taking away from your CCFP studies!! The program really does sound as good as what I have heard!!!
As for what I heard about the EM year...this came from only one source (so take what you will from it...) but it was from someone who graduated from the program. I don't really want to go into too many details on-line, but this person did have some qualms when I told him/her that I was really interested in this route at Mac and he/she told me to do the extra year but to go to Western! Again, one person's perspective...
I'm sure you will have an amazing experience and I wish you only the best!!!
I'd be happy to chat in person for 5 or 10 minutes (over tea/coffee) if you're at MUMC at all in the next week or two...
Again, thanks for all the info!!
McMaster MD Class of 2005
03-09-2003, 11:19 PM
Don't apologize. I'm quite deliberately procrastinating. That, and I don't know which box my study notes got packed into...
Amusingly, I've heard precisely the converse stated about Western's CCFP-EM program. I rated Western and McMaster's programs very highly for a number of reasons. Everyone's entitled to their opinion, I guess.
I've always been told a good rule of thumb is to try and do each phase of your education at a different institution. I'm violating that by staying at Mac for my EM, but it's worth thinking about.
I'm on a community-based rotation for two months, so I won't be at MUMC much. Most of my recent Hamilton visits involve packing and moving. You can leave me a message with an E-mail address via. the receptionist(s) at McMaster Family Practice (for much the same reasons I'm not posting mine here). They'll pass messages on to me... usually. ;)
03-10-2003, 06:07 AM
The CCFP-EM programme at Mac is great. A great group of emerg residents all round -- I've met a lot of them through my interest in emerg.
Rupi... I think it is interesting that the family medicine group was surprised by their unmatch rate. Compared to other family medicine interviews the interview day was very poor. A definite lack of energy and they didn't really seem to care whether we showed or not. Compared to other schools energy and selling job, McMaster really lost an opportunity to recruit people to the programme. The word on the albeit limited interview tour that I went on for family medicine is that McMaster really wasn't impressive to people visiting from other schools. It is too bad as I know that it is an excellent family medicine programme. However, the only reason I know that is because of the residents I have met during my rotations. Definitely not from the interview day. Aside from that given most of the Mac students know that not all applicants were ranked by the programme -- and at least one absolutely spectacular student - there is a bit of "you get what you deserve"/"too bad how sad" feeling around the school... There definitely isn't any surprise amongst students about the number unmatched.
Perhaps your committee will re-look their strategy next year.
Just a little honest feedback.. I hope you see it as helpful as opposed to overly critical. Knowing it is a great programme I think it is disappointing overall. Looking forward to seeing you around at Emerg events.
03-10-2003, 07:35 AM
Rupinder and Carolyn,
Thanks for the input on the EM year. That is really great to hear that others have good stories about Mac's EM year. See, just goes to show you, there are always 2 sides to every story!! I'm still very early on in my training but I've always been one of those people who plans too far ahead...but then again, CaRMS is less than 2 years away!
Carolyn: that's quite interesting what you say about the FM crew not seeming too interested in whether or not you 'showed up'. I still find it wierd that the program offers 'optional' interviews... I know that I would show up for sure, especially if Mac was my 1st choice...I guess this is this a way to 'weed out' who really wants to be there, but then again they say that you can still rank high without going for a personal interview...??
Thanks as well for posting your electives in another thread, I'm still struggling to figure out what I want to do this summer...I have officially booked 4 wks in emerg in Sudbury, but as of now, that's it!!! Carolyn, any outstanding preceptors in this area you know who may want a keen student who's interested in FM-EM?? I guess we could always learnlink...a bit more private....
Thanks again guys, you input is very valuable!!
03-10-2003, 07:39 PM
I should clarify a little. The ctte I was referring to was discussing the match results, though that group were not directly involved in running the match/interview process. We were still surprised at the outcome, and passed feedback up through the department chair, who was in attendance. It's kinda too bad we talked about that instead of tackling some of the other issues on the agenda that day, but so be it...
Your report about your interview date is not unique, but does not appear to be the universal opinion. I get the impression that some dates were fantastic, others were full of glitches and a sense of apathy. The year I interviewed was much the same... a LOT of disorganization surfaced the day I interviewed, while others were blown away by what they saw. Go figure. I've already made noise about how that interview day process should be restructured and polished, but it's hard for me to criticise when I was unable to take part this year.
It's unfortunate, but true, that the impression given at interviews is given tremendous weight. Understandable, especially with so much apparent homogeneity amongst the various programs across the country. I remember being very cheesed off with my experience at U of T, and that resulted in changes in my rank order list. >:
I can't offer much comment on people who were not ranked. I sit on one of the residency selection committees as well (man, I spend too much time in meetings), and saw what appeared to me to be a very long rank list. I can tell you without violating too many non-disclosure agreements that if someone wasn't ranked, there had to have been DAMN good reason. Most smaller problems just get you placed that much lower on the list.
Don't worry about offending me. I'm only peripherally involved in the process at the present time. I think honest feedback is precisely what the department brass needs AND WANTS to hear. I'll pass on your comments (only if that's okay with you) to the upper muckity-mucks as see what they think. :D
03-11-2003, 05:15 AM
Hi there Rupi,
You surely can mention my thoughts on the interview day. I'm sure my peers that did end up there will pass along their experiences as well at other schools which will give the committee some comparison. I was on a day when the majority of applicants were from McMaster -- a lot of them changed their rank-order list after the interviews. As I knew that I wanted the FRCP emerg programme I only interviewed at a couple of family programs -- so my experience and comments are limited to that. your new residents will definitely provide a more helpful angle...
As a lot of people who originally wanted family at McMaster changed their rank order list, the rumours flew about Mac not ranking everyone. And the one circumstance that I mentioned about the super-spectacular student has been rectified I gather.
03-11-2003, 09:20 AM
What makes somebody "super-spectacular" at the Carms stage?
03-23-2003, 08:52 PM
Ooooh. That was a conversation killer. :b
A general answer to your general question is that you have to demonstrate to the program to which you are applying that you are *THE* candidate they want above all others for their program. Of course, the specifics depend entirely on the program involved. Your academic and clinical performance in medical school, electives, letters of reference, personal interview, publications, extracurricular activities, and other such resume fodder all gets poured into the mix.
03-23-2003, 09:35 PM
Of course, the specifics depend entirely on the program involved.Unfortunately, this really is the key point; different programs are looking for different characteristics, so you just try to nail as many of their criteria as possible and then hope for the best. :) In that vein, it's not much different at all then from getting into med school, or interviewing for a job. You hope that your CV gets you through the door (via grades, research, good reference letters and electives, extra-currics, etc), and then let your personality and interview skills do the rest.
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