Sep 5, 2023

Why I Chose to Study at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine

Incoming Students, Resources, Transition Blog
By Rachel Stubits

My name is Rachel, and I am a 2T6 student at the Mississauga Academy of Medicine (MAM).  Choosing to complete my medical education at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine (TFOM) was the easiest and best decision that I have ever made.  The MD Program at the University of Toronto is amazing in every way – including curriculum design, clinical exposure, student support, and so much more.

Firstly, the TFOM curriculum is a “spiral” curriculum, which means that it is organized in an iterative fashion to help students retain information long-term.  Our curriculum is very holistic; within each week, we learn about topics including the science of medicine, the art of communication, effective inter-professional education, and the importance of health policy and advocacy.  Additionally, the physicians who dedicate their time to teaching us are experts in their respective fields.  Their passion for medical education shines through every one of their lessons.  During my first year of studies at MAM, some of my tutors brought in medical equipment – including a colonoscopy camera! – for us to try out during our small-group learning sessions (which we call Case-Based Learning, or CBL).

Furthermore, our curriculum not only supports learning – it also supports us as learners.  In my opinion, we have an optimal balance between large-group and small-group classes, as well as between in-person lessons and online self-paced modules.  Our schedule is flexible and gives us time for self-study and self-care – including extra-curricular activities, exercise, hobbies, and time with family and friends.

Thankfully, our assessments – which are called “Mastery Exercises” or “MEs” – are low-stakes and low-stress.  This is because they take place every few weeks, but they are not cumulative; in other words, each test only assesses us on the material that we learned since the last test.  Within each of the three pre-clerkship courses per year, our average test score must simply meet the passing average and all final marks are recorded as pass/fail on our transcripts.  No residency programs will ever see our numerical grades in medical school.  Additionally, we have no cumulative final exams.  Overall, this assessment structure is very flexible, and it has erased the intense academic pressure that I used to put on myself during my undergraduate studies.  Now, I feel as though I am learning to become the best possible physician for my future patients – and not merely learning to score as high on a test as possible.  This has not only improved my mental health; it has also improved the depth and quality of my learning.

The second reason why I chose to study at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine is the extensive clinical exposure that is integrated into our learning, beginning right at the start of medical school.  During pre-clerkship (i.e., the first two years of medical school), we spend one half-day each week learning about clinical skills: how to take a patient’s history, how to perform physical exams, and how to communicate effectively.  We also participate in a longitudinal family medicine shadowing experience (FMLE) during our second year of studies, which helps us further enhance our clinical skills.  Lastly, we can shadow physicians all throughout pre-clerkship to explore different specialties and learn from the best.  Ultimately, I am thankful that clinical exposure is a prominent part of our medical curriculum from the very start of pre-clerkship.  I feel as though these experiences will prepare me well for clerkship and my career.  In addition, hands-on clinical work helps to remind me about the reasons why I love medicine so much, which is an excellent source of motivation for studying!

The third major reason why I chose to study medicine at U of T is the student support.  We have a dedicated team of experts from each university department that often exclusively work with the Faculty of Medicine – including Course Coordinators, representatives from the Registrar, Financial Aid Officers, Career Counsellors, Academic Skills Coaches, Accessibility Advisors, and Personal Mental Health Counsellors that we call Learner Life Specialists.  Since we don’t share most of these services with the general university population, there is little to no wait time to receive support or an answer to a question.  I appreciate how seamless it is to receive support with any aspect of my medical education.  (You can visit the Office of Learner Affairs (OLA) website for a description of some of these services.)

Finally, I would like to share why I chose to study at the Mississauga Academy of Medicine (MAM) on the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) campus.  Many factors helped me make this decision, including proximity to family and friends, almost all of whom live in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).  One of the best pieces of advice that I have ever received is that I should not underestimate the value of a support system.  Now that I am in my second year of studies at MAM, I can certainly say that I agree – the support of my loved ones throughout my studies has been invaluable.  However, I also want to emphasize that the Temerty Faculty of Medicine includes faculty, staff and students who create a warm, collaborative, and supportive environment.  My friends who have moved to Mississauga from afar for medical school have settled in extremely well and feel supported in their learning and well-being.

Another factor that influenced my decision to study at MAM is the learner-to-staff ratio during clerkship at our designated hospitals in Mississauga.  Since we have very few residents who train in the Mississauga hospitals, third- and fourth-year clerks at MAM are typically paired directly with a supervising physician during each block of their clerkship.  I have heard from upper-year and former students that this was the best possible learning environment for them, because their education during clerkship was very hands-on.

Although I absolutely love MAM, I have heard only positive reviews of all the academies within our MD Program.  There’s truly a place for everyone here, and I wake up feeling grateful every day to be part of this community.  I hope to meet you here at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine one day, and in the meantime, I wish you the best of luck on your application journey!

Rachel Stubits (she/her)

MD Student (2T6), Mississauga Academy of Medicine