Frequently Asked Questions

So why change the curriculum?

Despite the successes we have enjoyed, we feel it is time to introduce significant changes into the first two years of the MD program, for a variety of reasons:

  • For graduates to practice medicine optimally in the 21st century, substantial changes are needed in how medical education should be delivered.  The health care knowledge base is constantly growing, technology is becoming more and more important in health care, patient safety and quality improvement are emerging priorities, just to name three major forces for change. Numerous reports in the recent medical education literature have made this clear, including the 2010 Carnegie Report [1], the Lancet Commission [2], and the Future of Medical Education in Canada Project [3].  Multiple medical schools in Canada and around the world are pursuing substantial curricular revisions in keeping with these recommendations.
  • Priorities in curriculum planning in the 21st century need to include:
    • A competency-based approach, which is one that focuses on ensuring medical students’ learning is based on what doctors need to be able to do
    • Flexibility for students to pursue special interests, such as public health or research during medical school
    • Integration of basic sciences with clinical learning, to enhance its relevance
    • Early clinical immersion
  • Curriculum delivery has been found to be more effective if:
    • A more active learning approach is taken, with fewer passive lectures
    • There is carefully planned and increased use of technology
    • More community-based learning
    • Interprofessional education, in which medical students spend part of their time learning with, from and about health professional students
  • Curriculum content needs to include:
    • Explicit teaching of cognitive sciences
    • Teaching to support the development of one’s identity as a professional
    • Learning to reflect on one’s experiences
    • Enhanced attention to prevention, public health and the health care system
    • Explicit teaching about patient safety and quality improvement
  • Assessment of what students have learned should involve:
    • Using assessment to support learning with emphasis on feedback
    • Multiple lower-stakes assessments, rather than infrequent extremely high stakes examinations
  • Preparation of teachers (“faculty development”) is critical to success.
    • A comprehensive faculty development program is needed for the new curriculum of the 21st century.

[1] COOKE, M. IRBY, D. O’BRIEN, B. EDUCATING PHYSICIANS: A CALL FOR REFORM OF MEDICAL SCHOOL AND RESIDENCY.  JOSSEY-BASS. 2010: SAN FRANCISCO.

[2] FRENK, J., CHEN, L., BHUTTA, Z. ET AL. HEALTH PROFESSIONALS FOR A NEW CENTURY: TRANSFORMING EDUCATION TO STRENGTHEN HEALTH SYSTEMS IN AN INTERDEPENDENT WORLD. LANCET 2010;376:1923-1958.

[3] ASSOCIATION OF FACULTIES OF MEDICINE OF CANADA. (2010). THE FUTURE OF MEDICAL EDUCATION IN CANADA (FMEC): A COLLECTIVE VISION FOR MD EDUCATION. OTTAWA, ON: AUTHOR. RETRIEVED FROM HTTP://WWW.AFMC.CA/FUTURE-OF-MEDICAL-EDUCATION-IN-CANADA/MEDICAL-DOCTOR-PROJECT/INDEX.PHP

What are the first two years of the MD program like currently?

The current first two years of the MD program uses two kinds of courses. There are “block courses” (three in first year, and one in second year) that occupy most of the time each week, and through lectures, seminars, small-group problem-based learning sessions and laboratory exercises, provides students with learning about the basic science and clinical topics that are the content of medicine. Two “continuity” courses each occupy one half-day per week: one teaches students about history-taking and physical examination (Art and Science of Clinical Medicine) and the other about community, population and public health issues.

What are the minimum scores required on each component of the MCAT to be considered?

Minimum scores of 125 in each of the four sections are required, with an allowance of 124 in one section. We do not use a total MCAT score in our assessment.

What if I am unavailable on the interview date you offer?

Attendance at an interview is mandatory. We will make a reasonable effort to accommodate students who have conflicting interviews or compelling personal circumstances. Due to the limited availability of interview times, such accommodation is not always possible.

What if my interview invitation gets lost?

Invitations are sent by e-mail to the address you provide in your OMSAS application. All applicants who are offered an interview must reply by a given date. If you are invited for interview and we do not hear from you, we will try to contact you by telephone and/or e-mail. Failure to respond to the invitation may result in the cancellation of your application. Please ensure that you keep your contact information up-to-date with OMSAS. We receive these updates on a regular basis.

What if people who can verify an activity on my ABS are no longer available?

You are expected to make a reasonable effort to verify all major activities listed in the Autobiographical Sketch. It is understandable that a few verifiers may be out of touch, or no longer with the organization. Please use common sense and do the best you can.

What is it like to be at the U of T Medical School?

There are many outstanding features of the medical education experience at U of T.

  • First, the city of Toronto is one of the most vibrant and ethnically diverse cities in North America. The people of this city are the patients whom our students meet, learn from and help to look after.
  • Second, the Faculty of Medicine in Toronto is fully affiliated with nine outstanding teaching hospitals, has associate affiliations with four hospitals, and has community affiliations with 11 others. In addition, there are multiple community-based agencies with connections to the medical school. This makes for an amazingly rich clinical and community environment in which to learn, and this is matched by an incredible array of research institutes that tackle every imaginable issue related to health. This includes the Wilson Centre for Research in Education. The learning of our students is organized in four academies, which are groupings of several of these teaching sites.
  • Third, the there is a vast number of exceptionally capable teachers who are dedicated to providing the best possible program for our students, in both the first two years and the clerkship.
  • Fourth, we have wonderful facilities, ranging from state-of-the-art lecture halls at the Medical Sciences Building to outstanding simulation centres at multiple sites. We have recently opened the Mississauga Academy of Medicine, housed principally in the brand new Terrence Donnelly Health Sciences Complex.
  • Fifth, we have explicitly organized the program around helping students develop competence in the many roles required of a modern physician. These are organized around the “CanMEDS roles [1] ”, each of which is supported by several “competencies” (essentially things physicians are able to do to help patients and populations).
  • Finally, we have an unwavering commitment to making sure our students have an excellent and supportive curriculum, and strong support in each of the academic, career counseling, financial counseling and personal counseling domains.

[1] THE CANMEDS ROLES ARE: MEDICAL EXPERT, COMMUNICATOR, COLLABORATOR, LEADER, HEALTH ADVOCATE, SCHOLAR AND PROFESSIONAL.  FOR MORE INFORMATION, SEE:HTTP://MD.UTORONTO.CA/PROGRAM/GOALS.HTM.

What is the difference between undergraduate and graduate applicants to the MD program?

An important distinction is our minimum GPA requirement. Also, graduate applicants receive credit for their graduate work.

What qualifies as Humanities?

Courses involving literary or historical study. Examples would include Literature, History, Film Studies and Philosophy.

What qualifies as Life Sciences?

Life Sciences are courses where the main content and focus is on life systems. Some examples would be Biology, Zoology, Anatomy and the medical sciences. Please note that Biophysics or Biomedical Engineering courses must focus on the life systems and not on apparatus design.