Based on some correspondence I have recently received, it seems there is a need for greater clarity around of “MD/PhD granting institution rule” for determining which courses count in determining eligibility to apply. As I have said before, there needs to be a little trust on the part of applicants that we are not actively trying to keep people out of medical school. We desperately want the diversity in our student body that comes from having students who have attended a wide range of undergraduate institutions. That said, we do need some kind of standard, and need the ability to occasionally say “No, that course is simply not academically rigorous enough to count.” Therein lies the dilemma.
When we think about a standard that we can use, we need a few things. It needs to be a standard that can be applied world wide, given that we get applicants from all over. It also can’t be too exclusive, since there still needs to be a path to medicine for people who cannot afford or are unable to leave home to study in a large institution in another city. That is an equity issue, from our perspective. What clearly won’t do is to simply accept all courses from accredited universities, since accreditation standards vary widely in different jurisdictions, and suspect institutions are generally accredited by equally suspect accreditation bodies.
That has led us to our current policy, which is that in order for courses to “count” they must be either taken at an MD/PhD granting institution, or transferable for credit (generic credit is ok) to such an institution. As we say in the Applicant Manual, we remain committed to the notion that students should be able to undertake their pre-medical education at a wide variety of institutions. To be perfectly clear, we have neither the time nor desire to work through the transferability of every course for the hundreds of applicants we get every year from non MD/PhD granting universities. What we need (and what we have) is a policy that allows the Admissions Committee the freedom to question (and in some cases reject) the academic rigour of specific courses or specific institutions, while also providing the applicants with clear guidance about what the standards are so they can make appropriate course selection when planning their pre-medical education.
It is impossible for us to create a comprehensive list of schools that we can “white list” and there are certainly some schools where most courses are acceptable, but some are not. To be perfectly clear, however, we are not concerned, and will not be looking at specific course transferability for work done at larger Canadian primarily undergraduate institutions such as ULethbridge, MRU, Simon Fraser, UVic, Waterloo, Acadia, SFX, etc… Unless someone can show us a reason not to, we are going to assume that course work done at these institutions is transferable to an MD PhD granting school somewhere. If someone is telling you that your courses from these institutions is not acceptable to us, they are wrong, and you can tell them I said so.