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MMI’s Complete – Post Your Questions Here

March 5th, 2012 by Dr Ian Walker

This is intended as a place for people who may not have had time or inclination to ask their questions publicly at the information sessions following the MMI.  Feel free to ask me the stuff that is on your mind.  It can either flow from the conversations that transpired on your interview day, or be entirely unrelated.

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63 responses so far ↓

  • According to reports, some llamas go as far as laying beside a
    newborn lamb in order to protect it from cold and predators.

  • This question is actually related to last years scores but I hope you can still help me. After not being invited to an interview last year I didn’t even know that pre-mmi scores had been posted. My final pre-mmi score was 67.41 and below that the reference statistics say that the lowest Pre-MMI Score of an Albertan to receive an MMI Invitation: 55.35. What other factors would have come into play that excluded me from an interview when my score was clearly above the cut-off?

    • None. What you are seeing is an unintended consequence of the change in scoring systems between this year and last year. UCAN basically consists of a database and a calculating matrix, but can only have one system of calculation active at any one time. If you look at previous years’ scores in UCAN, what you get is this year’s calculations done with last year’s data, but some of the data points are missing, since we changed the way we score things. This has screwed up the displayed thresholds, etc… UCAN should really only be considered reliable for the current cycle.

  • Hi there Dr. Walker,

    I am wondering if you could please clarify what is meant by ‘Areas of Concern’ with respects to the interview. How horrible a thing would we have had to say to have been flagged?

    I fear with the nerves of the day, I may have said something that though with the right intent and relevant to the question may have appeared to unintentionally offended my interviewer (he was smiling and mid way started scowling through my response).

    Are the responses then reviewed? If rejected, will we ever be told it was due to being flagged? May we apply the next year?

    As always, thank-you for this forum.

    • An “Area of Concern” is something that is flagged at any point in the process as potentially worrisome from a professionalism / ethics / interpersonal / legal standpoint. Although we have had people in the place generate an area of concern at the MMI, we do have to be pretty rigorous and fair-minded about it. After all, we are terminating someone’s application, so we need to make sure we are not doing so on the basis of something that is as likely to be a poorly expressed thought as a pathological one. Generally we are talking about overly racist, sexist, homophobic or xenophobic comments, or behaviour of a highly unprofessional nature.
      If we reject someone based on a red flag, they receive a letter telling them that a concern was raised, that it was reviewed at the committee level and the decision was made to terminate their application. In the interest of not identifying the source of the concern, however, we will not tell people what the concern was. Talking to other Admissions Deans across the country, this is a pretty standard practice.

  • Any update on when the interim stats and pre-MMI scores will be up for those who didn’t get interviews? Thanks Dr. Walker

    • I had hoped to have them up this week, but we have not been able to get the “build” done and into UCAN yet. With all the changes to our application system this year, we are modifying and testing and retesting UCAN as we go. I am hopeful that we will have the score display functionality worked out by next week sometime so that people can see their pre-MMI scores.

  • Have there been any rumblings of increases in the class size this year from the government. I know it seems logical, hoping your institution will produce more family docs, some of which may want to relocate to a rural setting (i.e. me) but money doesnt grow on trees and the government, well, theyre the government. Do you know when you’ll be informed on class size? I know theres alot of logistics behind it, including who is going to train the extra bodies, but I am still curious if there is any news.

    • No, there has been no word. Currently we are anticipating an incoming class size very similar to our previous class size of 170. We won’t know for sure until a day or two before we make offers.

  • Who were the interviewers? Where they UME admin staff or clincians?

  • Dr. Walker, can tell me when the interim statistics will be posted?

    • No, I am afraid I cannot. Soon, I hope, but I don’t know for sure when. We are still hoping to have applicants scores available for them by April 1st, and the cumulative stats will be available sometime after that.

      • Dr. Walker, for those of us unfamiliar with the process, what are these applicant scores that you’ll be releasing in April? And what is meant by cumulative stats?

        Thanks

        • We release for unsuccessful applicants how they scored in the application process so that they can identify their relative areas of strength and weakness. We will also release some general stats on the applicant pool generally. We will then add to those once we know who got in vs who did not (in the fall).

  • Dear Dr. Walker,

    I just wanted to thank you. It was definitely a well-organized, non-stressful interview.

    I have three questions about UofC Faculty of Medicine:

    1. Regarding the third year clerkship, on the website I read the following sentence: “Students may do electives at Canadian or International centres of excellence.” Do you mind – just briefly – shedding some light on such affiliations?

    2. Do UofC MD graduates have the residency priority in Calgary (city) or Alberta (province)?

    3. In 1-2 words can you tell me a characteristic or something that distinguishes UofC Medical School from the rest of the Canadian Medical Schools?

    -Roger

    • 1. There are no specific affiliations that I am aware of, although the University and the Faculty have ongoing relationships with a few overseas universities and new medical schools. Our students do electives overseas and throughout the country, but this process is well established and a standard practice at all schools. Each school generally has an administrative person, or an office, that handles elective requests from students at other institutions.
      2. No, although there is probably a bit of a “home field advantage” for residencies locally simply because you are a known quantity. This is true everywhere, and you will find that a large percentage of residents did their medical school at the same place as they are doing their residency.
      3. I spent about 25 minutes talking about this at the interviews. I don’t think it is really amenable to a 1-2 word answer.

  • Hi Dr. Walker,

    I was wondering if there is a set quota for 3rd year applicants (such as the one at the University of Alberta, where something like a maximum of 27 spots can be allocated to 2nd/3rd year applicants). Additionally, are 3rd year applicants pooled together or are they competing in the same pool as everyone else?

    Thanks!

  • Hey Dr. Walker,

    What exactly do you mean by “areas of concern”?

    • Sorry. This question was intended to be below under the “tell us before May 15?!!!!” post. I reposted it there.

      Thanks in advance.

  • If verifiers aren’t contacted does that mean bad news, or does it mean anything. Do you only verify if it seems fishy? I am just wondering as I know someone who has had a verified contacted, but none of mine have. If they aren’t contacted within the next several weeks is that any sort of sign either way?

  • Hi Dr. Walker,

    If I marked off that I am interested in the joint MD/PhD program on my application but later changed my mind and just want to apply for the MD program alone, is there a process that I must go through to let the admin office know about my intentions?

    Thanks.
    B

    • No need to do anything. We actually don’t use that “data point” currently, although we have kept it in there in case we decide to use it in the future. People who are interested in the Leaders in Medicine program need to contact the program directly.

  • Hi Dr. Walker,

    I posted this on your previous post but this “question space” seems more appropriate. Is it too late to apply for graduate studies to be considered for the Leaders in Medicine program for this upcoming September? The interview weekend really made this program appealing – but I don’t know if it’s too late.

  • Hi Dr. Walker,

    I hear there have been some changes to the number of seats available to the incoming class of 2015. Can you please let me know how many seats are available to in-province students this year?

    Thank you,

    Cheers,
    Minu

    • I am always amazed by what people “hear”. There have been no decisions made regarding incoming class size, and regardless those decisions are made at the level of the university and the minister of advanced education, not in our office. While I don’t anticipate a significant change from this past year, we usually do not find out until early May.

  • Hey Dr. Walker,
    So last year MMI scores were all tabulated a few days after the last MMI and you said that the writing section is what held up the process, requiring a few weeks to mark. BUT since this has now been eliminated, think you can let us know if we’ll be accepted or not prior to May 15th since you’ll likely have your ranked list way before that date?
    Would make planning my next few months/or even year much easier if I knew earlier 🙂

    • This was answered in the “moving towards interviews” thread, although I think we’re all still hoping for it. It’s going to be a giant scramble for those who need to move. :S

    • Yes, I think this was somewhat answered in the previous thread. I do agree it would be fantastic to find out before May 15, though!

    • Its a reasonable request, but the answer is going to be no. We may release a few days early if everything is in place. Although the numbers are all in, we still have to deal with a handful of “areas of concern” that have been identified, as well as some issues around score standardization. We also need to build the final score calculation into UCAN, etc… Sorry. Regardless, other schools nation wide are not releasing until May, and the deadline for response nationally is going to be May 31st, so there is not going to be much waitlist movement prior to June.

      • Hi Dr. Walker,

        What exactly do you mean by “areas of concern”?

        • If you look in our Applicant Manual, you will see a description of our “areas of concern” policy. Basically, if things come to light that give us reason to think that an applicant may not be well suited to the practice of medicine, we explore that a bit and make a decision as a committee. Things such as egregious comments made at the MMI, history of academic dishonesty and prior criminal behaviour have been flagged as areas of concern in the past.

      • well a few days early is better than nothing 😉

  • Hi Dr. Walker,

    I was just curious – are verifiers still being contacted, or was that already completed?

  • Hi Dr. Walker,

    Thanks for a great MMI experience.

    My question is regarding OOP applicants. Just out of curiosity, now that the interview stage is complete, is the competition roughly equal for OOP and IP applicants? Do OOP applicants generally have to score higher on the MMI than IP applicants to be offered admission?

    I realize 85% of seats are reserved for Albertan applicants. I hope my question makes sense.

    Thank you!

    • I believe OOP students don’t need to score any higher. Spots go to the people who are at the top of the ranked list and there are not 2 separate lists, just one with both IP and OOP. Once/if 15% of the seats are given out to OOP students, then OOP students further down on the list will no longer be considered;

      • That is more of less correct, we actually do keep two separate lists, but look at the two lists together to determine who gets the next offer. We keep 2 lists primarily for statistical tracking purposes.

    • Actually, since the OOP pool tend to have higher GPA’s and VR’s, their pre-MMI scores tend to be higher, on average. Since they are essentially competing against themselves for those 15% of spots, the MMI has about the same effect, meaning that the playing field is about equal.

  • Hi Dr.Walker,
    Could you please shed some light on scholarships/bursaries available for MD students who demonstrate financial need?

    • So this is an evolving area. Our committment is primarily to the notion that financial need should never be an obstacle to successful completion of the MD program. If you can get in, we can get you through. Generally, that is going to mean debt, and often a fair bit of it. Most of our students who lack any meaningful financial resources rely heavily on lines of credit from one of the major banks (which the banks are more than happy to supply). There are also a variety of smallish needs based bursaries available both through the faculty and main campus, although the administration of financial aid is centralized on main campus and they administer our bursary programs for us. It is a single application process, and a large percentage of our students gets some form of financial aid from the university. The biggest bursary program is what is called the “Differential Tuition Bursaries” which are currently being reconfigured. In the past, they have offered a certain number of students a refund of half their tuition (about 100 students a year) on a demonstrated need basis. We are looking at the distribution of these funds, and they may be reconfigured such that students with exceptional need actually get a larger percentage of their tuition covered. There are also bursaries in smaller amounts available through the Alberta Medical Association.
      I think the bottom line would be that there are significant financial resources in place for applicants with limited or no financial resources, and you should not be dissuaded from pursuing a medical career over concerns of cost. Once in the program, Dr Lee, our Associate Director of Student Affairs is available to meet with students regarding financial needs.

  • Hi Dr. Walker,

    How do you determine how many people make the non-Albertan waitlist? Do you decide ahead of time on an exact number?

    Thanks in advance!

    • It is a combination of raw numbers, but also of final application scores. In years when the OOP pool is stronger, we might have a longer waitlist. In years when it is weaker relative to the IP pool, the list will be shorter, since the available spots will wind up going to Albertans with higher overall scores and there is no reason to keep someone on a waitlist who does not have a reasonable chance of getting in. Won’t know until we do the final numbers in a month or two.

  • I wanted to talk to you personally about this but by the time the video and discussion were over I felt you’d probably had enough, espceially since you’d have to give the same speach once more that afternoon. I was wondering abou the “leaders in medicine” Ive heard little snipits of info about it but nothing straight from the horses mouth, and no I am not calling you a horse. If I am accepted this year I will be starting school just after finishing a little over two years of a postdoc. Medicine is what I want to do, and if I dont get in, this wont be the last you’ll hear from me, but at the same time I am wondering what is involved in this, is it an oppertunity to conduct research while attending med school ? I understand medicine and life in general are sort of research, as your always faced with problems and working to find solutions to said problems, but what is this leaders in medicine all about?

    • Also for the record, I didnt do a PhD to help get into medicine, to be honest when I finished my undergrad I couldnt stand med students and med was the furthest thing from my mind. I was also 23 and had a different midset back then. I did my PhD to investigate health issues I was interested in, only after one year of be a postdoc did I decide I would be a better asset to the medical community as a physician, that doesnt mean I want to abandon research altogether, this is why I am interested in more info regarding the leaders in medicine. Just wanted to clear that up.

      • Thank you, just wondering about the program. At the end of the day if research was what I really wanted to do I wouldn’t have worked so hard to try to get into the MD program. I’ve shadowed a hell of alot of family med and know that’s what I want to do with my life, but the problem solving tools I’ve learned over the last decade via research are something I see as a valuable tool in a physicians tool box, especially in the field of pharmacology. Now I have to wait to see if ore and post MMI scores add up to a “your in” the longest couple of months of my life for sure.

    • The Leaders in Medicine Program (LIM) is essentially an MD plus program, which allows students to be simultanously registered in both the MD program and another graduate program, which would be otherwise impossible. It is usually MD / MSc or MD / PhD, but could be lots of things, including MD MBA if you wanted. I am not sure if you could be in the program while doing a postdoc, since as a post doc you are not technically a student anymore. That would be a question more appropriately asked of the directors of the LIM program (Drs Beck and Hollenberg). If you call our main number, John or April can give you their contact information. The LIM program is quite large, and there are also students in the MD program who are what are called “Affiliate Members” meaning that they are not actually registered in the program, but they do participate in the seminar series, etc… as a way of staying involved with a clinician scientist community which doing the MD program.

      • Also I find it to be quite annoying when people say your wasting your PhD doing family medicine, do a specialty. I think that’s the most ridiculous comment, I think it’s a perfect way to use it, it’s an extremely diverse job, just like research.

  • Dr Walker,

    I listened to your podcast recently, and noticed that information about the Aboriginal application process had been cut. I was pretty disappointed, as throughout the entire podcast, that was the one topic I was waiting to hear. Is that section available elsewhere? Or, could you make it available.

    Thank you.

    • No, I don’t think it was cut. I wound up talking to a couple of aboriginal applicants after the fact, off camera.
      Our process is pretty well described in our applicant manual though, and a more detailed description of the ins and outs of scoring is probably outside the scope of this blog. If you are in Calgary, you could certainly come in and talk to us about it. We should probably put together a document outlining the process in greater detail which we make available on request, but have not done so yet. If you have reviewed the material in our applicant manual and have further questions, perhaps best to contact us directly so that we can get you the specific information you need.

  • Hi Dr. Walker——-
    What if we actually do get in?!?! I mean people do right? Dream come true!

    Anyways, what I’m actually asking is what do out of town students usually do for housing?

    I have looked at the UofC residences page and was wondering if we would have to apply to be in an undergraduate dorm since med is an undergraduate professional program……..this idea doesn’t seem terribly appealing.

    What do med students usually do? Live off campus?
    I’ve read the document with the top 6 off campus housing options but there seems to be little to no availability in those particular condos and townhomes at the moment (e.g. foothills village, patrician village etc), let alone the fact that we can’t really start looking until offers are given out. I’m guessing things might be even more full then.

    Do students often get a place early just in case? Or spend months in a friend or relative’s basement while looking? I am sure this is especially an issue for those who get in off of the wait list.

    I know that’s a lot of questions and I’m getting way ahead of myself, but for those that do actually get in if I don’t, this information might be valuable!!

    • I am not aware of any medical students living on campus, but I could be mistaken. Most rent apartments or houses around the med school, but some also go farther afield. I have not heard of people having especially hard times finding places, but again, I may just not be in the know. When we send out letters of offer, the students usually send out information as well about accommodations and other related issues.

  • Dear Dr. Walker,

    Thank you for maintaining such an interactive and informative blog. I am thrilled to hear about the institution of the 10-year rule for next cycle and grateful to UofC for thinking about the nearly impossibles obstacles that older applicants face and giving us at least a chance. I hope to further assess my eligibility before shooting my hopes too high.

    1) I am a permanent resident of Canada who studied in the US, planning to settle permanently in Canada in the near future regardless of med school app outcome. Within the last 3 years, I took mostly science courses at 2-year colleges mainly for the purpose of applying to Canada. These schools are fully accredited and the credits are transferable to universities within my state. The primary reason for taking courses at the college level was because science (especially pre-med) courses are extremely impacted at the universities (compounded by budget woes), and non-degree students who already hold a bachelors have no priority. Even within the college system, I had to really fight for a seat across campuses.

    In your podcast, you stated that college credits in Canada are accepted as long as they are transferable to UofC or proven university equivalent. Are my credits also acceptable then?

    2) The last 2 years of my studies had 29 and 25 credits respectively (full-time). However, I may be one course short of 8 full because a couple of my courses carried a high credit value (5 units). Do you go with max(#of credits, #of courses)?

    3) If my last 2 years count as full-time, then I’m eligible for the 10-year rule and the GPA used to determine cut-off will be calculated using those 2 years only; in addition, the cGPA used for full assessment will be calculated based on all courses taken within the last 10 years only. Essentially, the grades from >10 years ago will be seen on transcripts but not used in any calculation. Right?

    I apologise for the lengthy post but I hoped to be clear!

    Thank you!

    • I apologise. I just realised I posted this question in the wrong place — I had meant to comment on your post regarding the 10-yr rule. It’d be nice if you could still comment; if not, I will definitely follow up later during “quieter” times…

    • For specific questions regarding your situation, it is best that you contact Adele Meyers in our office directly so that she can go through your courses etc… with you. Her email is meyers@ucalgary.ca. Full time, by our definition requires 24 credits completed between Sept and April, of which 18 must be graded (i.e. not pass fail).

  • Dr. Walker,
    Thanks for providing this opportunity. My question is about Calgary’s rural community clerkship. In contrast to non-rural clerkship rotations, where students always have a resident or attending physician (someone ‘above’ them) to consult with, I understand that in under-served areas, students are often working by themselves, dealing with an entire clinic of patients. How do you ensure your students provide proper medical care in the rural environment?

    -Alex

    • Its a fair question Alex, but a misinformed one. Students are never “working by themselves, dealing with an entire clinic of patients.” Educationally speaking, that would be completely unacceptable, never mind from a professional and health care delivery standpoint. RICC students work in very well established rural teaching sites with dedicated faculty preceptors. Many of these sites are also teaching sites for Family Medicine residency programs. There are certainly fewer other people “further up the food chain” but that is generally seen as an advantage, since it means more hands on time and more time one on one with staff physicians.