MD Program Admissions

A leading edge 3-year MD program at the University of Calgary

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Update June 14th, 2018

June 14th, 2018 by Dr Ian Walker

We are still experiencing a trickle of action.  We were full on Monday, but then someone backed out, made another offer, etc…  We have actually had three more offers made since Monday.  We are getting near the end of the process for sure, but there will be no certainty until the first day of class.

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Waitlist update June 6, 2018

June 6th, 2018 by Dr Ian Walker

We have made a few more offers off the waitlist this week.  We are giving people just two days to respond, in an effort to sort out our class composition as efficiently as possible.  At this point there is likely to be a trickle of action for the next couple of weeks.  Even once full (we currently have 4 offers out that have not been responded to), there will be a couple of people who change their mind and decide to go elsewhere, which sometimes results in a  bit of a cascade.  Bottom line is that we are not done yet.  If they have not already done so, the office staff will be notifying people low on the waitlist that there is not a reasonable expectation of getting an offer this year.  We think this is a fair and transparent thing to do, and also allows people to get on with their lives, take up other opportunities, etc…  Once the class is full, we will notify all but the top 5 remaining people one the wait list.

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Update for Applicants (Especially Wait-listers)

May 9th, 2018 by Dr Ian Walker

So, here we are, well into May and things are starting to take shape.  Although making offers early is really helpful for those accepted and those declined outright, it just makes the waiting process for waitlisters that much longer.

As an update, here is where we sit as of today.

There are 142 vacant spots in the incoming class (the rest are taken up by returning Leaders in Medicine students and deferrals from last year.)  So far, we have 92 Albertans and 10 non-Albertans enrolled for next year.  Another 45 or so Albertans and 35 non-Albertans who have received and offer but who have not yet responded.  I expect that the bulk of those are going to wind up declining our offer, but obviously cannot make any commitments until they do so.  Once the number of unspoken-for seats is more than the number of offers we have out there, we will start making offers to people on the waitlist, but based on past experience, I don’t expect that to happen until May 25th or the week after.

As always, we cannot (or will not) tell people where they are on the waitlist or attempt to estimate people’s chances of eventually getting in.  Our commitment to you, however, is that as the final picture begins to get clearer (usually around mid June) we will notify people if it looks like their chances of getting in are approaching zero based on the number of seats left and their place on the waitlist.


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Random Question from an Applicant

February 22nd, 2018 by Dr Ian Walker

We got an email from an applicant who had apparently been trying to ask this question on another thread, but had been unable to do so – so I am cutting and pasting here.

“I’m not sure if this is the correct place to pose the question, but I wanted to ask about confidentiality during interviews. I realise that applicants are likely reminded to keep all the questions confidential – for reasons such as providing an unfair advantage.

However, do you also ask/require interviewees to keep the identity of other applicants confidential? Although this is not a problem for most, some applicants do not want another party knowing that they applied, i.e. their employer, their friends, others in their program, or some other party. I think it might be natural for an interviewee to state “oh hey, I saw so and so at the UofC med school interviews” without thinking they were doing any harm or violating anyone’s desire for confidentiality. Is this something that is considered? Are applicants expected to keep this info confidential?”

Yes, we do expect applicants to keep the nature of the interview stations confidential.  We don’t ask them to keep the identity of other people who they meet at interviews confidential.  Essentially that is between the two people who know each other.  It is also not something that we can police, or that we would consider some kind of ethical breach.  Your question serves as a good reminder to applicants, however, that they cannot assume that everyone else’s status as a medical school applicant is public knowledge, and some discretion might be helpful.

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Session for Interviewees – Jan 25th, 12:30, Libin Theatre

January 22nd, 2018 by Dr Ian Walker

I will be hosting a brief presentation for interviewees (present, and if you wish, future) this Thursday 12:30-1:30.  I will be talking about the format of the interview experience and a bit about the format so that interviewees have some idea of what is coming.  There will be time for questions as well.  Hope to see a few of you there.  The whole session will be recorded and posted on our website within a week or two, however, so don’t panic if you can’t make it.

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Interview Invites Have Been Made

January 19th, 2018 by Dr Ian Walker

By now, everyone should have received an interview notification, either invitation or regrets.  If you have not, please check your SPAM filter and then your status directly in UCAN.

A bit of information, and some words for both groups of applicants.  This year we had 1560 completed applications, and 498 interview spots, meaning that for the first time, we are interviewing fewer than a third of all applicants, slightly less than 32% to be precise.  In keeping with our primary mandate to train residents of Alberta, and our 15% cap on non-Albertan students, the rate was lower for non-Albertans.  We have sent interviews to 81 non-Albertans out of 356 total non-Albertan applicants, or slightly less than 23%.   Overall, then, about 16% of interview spots went to non-Albertans.  The net effect of all this is that the score required for non-Albertan’s was significantly higher than that required for Albertans (~110 vs ~102).

For those of you lucky enough to get an interview invite, I offer you congratulations, but also encourage you to reflect on your good fortune.  There is definitely an element of luck involved in this process, as anyone who has gotten one interview and failed to get another will tell you.  We look forward to meeting you in the coming weeks.  The interview format has changed a bit this year.  It is still a “multiple assessment” set up, but in addition to the 7-8 min MMI circuit we are also conducting semi-structured two-interviewer, one-applicant 20 min interviews, and a 20 min group activity assessment.  The net effect is the the interview day will be a bit longer, but there will be a wider variety of assessment tools used, which we think is fairer to a wider variety of applicants with diverse skill sets.  We are currently in the process of trying to set up a Q&A session for interviewees next week which we will inform you about, and which will subsequently be posted on our website.  Lastly, the interview scheduler will open Monday at 10 am.  Based on past experience, 95% of spots will be taken within about 60-90 seconds, so if you are constrained in terms of the date or time of your interview, make sure you clear your schedule and be sitting on the refresh button.  There is a confidentiality disclosure that you have to chick off first, so go in an do that ahead of time so that you don’t get delayed on Monday.

For those of you who were not successful, I would encourage you to view this through a bit of a realist lens.  Your chances of getting an interview if you are an average applicant are one in three, so not getting one should probably be the expected outcome.  I have said this to many groups over the years, but if you are serious about pursuing a career in medicine you should think of it as a 5 year project.  If, after 5 years, you have not succeeded in securing an admission, it MIGHT be time to at least consider the possibility that there is something about your application that puts you in a weaker starting position than the average applicant.  Giving up before that is probably premature.  It is unfortunate that our system has come to this, but as demand continues to far outstrip supply for medical school positions, it is what we have to work with at the moment.

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Applicant Update

January 11th, 2018 by Dr Ian Walker

So, we are approaching that fun point in the cycle where we make interview offers.  We still have a handful of reviews outstanding, but now 90% or more of the applicants are ready for an interview decision. Once we have all the reviews complete, we need to do a bit of a careful look at a few things that have been flagged, hold a committee meeting and produce some lists.  We are hoping that the offers will go out in that last week of January, which would give people 4 weeks to plan their lives.

Interviews this year are going to be a bit different.  There are going to be three different types of stations, and they will take place in two different circuits.  There will be a 7 station, traditional MMI, but also a second circuit that will consist of two longer format, semi structured interviewers with two assessors and one applicant, as well a 20 min group activity station, similar to what we have done the last couple of years.  Our feeling is that greater variety of types of assessments is fairer to a wider variety of applicants.  More details will be forthcoming for those invited to interview.


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Reference Stats for 2016-17

November 20th, 2017 by Dr Ian Walker

So, here they are.  They will be posted on our website shortly, but this is a sneak peak.  That said, the remarkable thing is how similar they are to the year before and year before that….

Take home messages.

More and more people keep applying, making odds lower and lower (its not catastrophic, but it is a slow steady decline).

It is REALLY hard to get in with a GPA less than 3.4.

The MCAT scores produced by our applicants are not at all representative of the MCAT scores achieved by the population at large.  A 500 is the mean MCAT score world wide, by definition.  For us it is north of 508, and anything less than a 500 puts you in the wrong tail of the bell curve.

Reference Stats 2017


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My Mistake – Status for Applicants Currently reads “Submitted”

November 17th, 2017 by Dr Ian Walker

Renee tells me I got it wrong, and that the system currently displays a status of “Application Submitted” for all applicants who are under review. No need to panic.


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Files off to reviewers

November 7th, 2017 by Dr Ian Walker

As of this am, we have assigned files to our 75 or so dedicated reviewers – a group made up of faculty, students, members of the public, allied health care professionals and residents. All told, we had 1561 applications this year, which is relatively stable compared to last year. One thing that changed is that over 350 of them were from non-Albertans, which is a little high from our perspective. I only say that because we know that non-Albertans are much less likely to come to U of C if offered, so they represent a lot of work for smaller return, but it is what it is.
As the reviews get completed, you as applicants won’t notice anything until the fourth review is done, then your status will change to something like “waiting for an interview decision” or something like that. How long it takes you to get there has no prognostic significance at all. Its simply a matter of when your last review gets completed. Some people will have all four reviews completed by mid December, for others it will be well into Jan. Once every last review is completed, we run the stats and then produce a pre-MMI score for each applicant, upon which interview offers are made. We expect to interview about 500 applicants again this year, so about 1 out of every 3 applicants.

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