Family Medicine in Winnipeg
Near the end of Med 2. I initially thought I would do internal medicine, as we were mainly taught by internists and internal medicine sub-specialists in the first two years. They seemed really smart and cool and I fully admit that I wanted to be like them. But when I learned more about what it took to be an internist (duration of training, intensity of residency, potentially saturated subspecialty job market) I realized the career didn’t match up with my priorities and values in life. I ended up meeting family physicians later on in my second year and was amazed by the broad range of practice these physicians had – from emergency room shifts, lumps and bumps clinics, low-risk obstetrics, hospitalist duties, surgical assist, palliative care consultant work, to oncology symptom management clinics, administrative positions, and research opportunities. This wasn’t just rural family physicians either. I met urban family docs that had this kind of varied practice. I learned that family medicine afforded the ability to pivot roles or change the scope of your practice as you went on in your career. This jived much more with my interest in every field of clinical medicine and my desire to pursue leadership positions in medical administration. If you feel early in medical school that you love a certain specialty, just remember to be open-minded and seek information about other specialities.
It’s honestly hard to say…I was trying very hard to match to family medicine in Toronto and did 2 electives in Toronto and 1 at McMaster to increase my odds. I got interviews at both of these schools (in addition to U of M) but as far as I know they were interviewing everyone that applied. I ended up matching to U of M urban family. As the faculty advised, I did a broad range of electives in everything from dermatology, psychiatry, family med clinic, and medical leadership. Based on my experience going for family medicine, choice of electives may not matter as much as you think. This is likely not true for other more competitive specialities.
I completed one year of Master of Science studies prior to being accepted into medical school. I used the two summers to complete my experiments in the lab and write my thesis. It was very busy and not an easy path, but I had time for holidays each summer. I know another student in my class and a student in the Class of 2019 did the same thing. If you really care about research and want another way to distinguish yourself for CaRMS this is doable if you have started your Masters before medical school.
During my interview at McMaster I had an interviewer that seemed not to like me as soon as I entered the room. Each scenario I described or point I tried to express, they interrupted or disagreed. I was totally thrown off and frustrated despite many hours of preparation prior to that day. If you do enough interviews, eventually you will meet an interviewer that doesn’t get along well with you. All of my classmates described having experiences like this once or twice throughout interviews. The lesson for me was to be your genuine self, but expect that not every single person will like you. If you expect an experience like this during interviews, you can be more confident when it occurs and forget about it quicker. Also, absolutely bombing with one interviewer in a panel interviews or multiple mini interviews does not mean your chances of matching to a certain program are doomed.
The mindset that I had to know everything we learned in pre-clerkship going into clerkship. This drove me to stress over every lecture and topic we had in pre-clerkship because I felt I would never have the time to study as much as I did in pre-clerkship. The truth is no matter how hard you study in pre-clerkship, you’re going to have study subjects again. And I’ve been reassured that this cyclical process of learning then forgetting clinical medicine continues throughout residency and attending life. So I would still study hard in pre-clerkship, but I would lose the guilt over not knowing everything after the first time it was taught to me.
What did you do in your four years of medical school that you found to be the most helpful during the CaRMS process?
Two things. In pre-clerkship I got involved in student government and took on leadership positions in clubs and areas I was passionate about. You have the time for this in pre-clerkship and you will make important contacts that can be helpful during CaRMS (I got to know Dr. Horton and Dr. Ripstein better through these roles). Plus, it gives you experiences to talk about in your CaRMS interview (think CANMEDS roles) and overall cannot hurt your CaRMS application. In clerkship, I kept a journal of patient cases and clinical scenarios that served as stories for CaRMS interview questions (again think CANMEDS roles to direct which cases are important to remember).
CaRMS is stressful, but try to enjoy it. You likely won’t ever again travel all over Canada over a 3 week period and meet students and physicians from all over the country. If you start writing your letters early and practice for interviews you will probably do amazing! Med 4 after CaRMS is the best time during medical school, so know that you have that to look forward to after interviews.
Interview provided by Thomas Hedley – firstname.lastname@example.org