Hello from Vancouver! I wanted to share a little bit today about medical school, why my schedule always seems so weird and what I’m up to now.
Yesterday evening I flew out here to start interviewing for residency positions. After medical school, brand new doctors start a period of their training called residency. I like to explain this by saying that in medical school, we learn about how to be doctors – what human anatomy is, how to understand evidence, how to perform physical exams, describe signs and symptoms, etc. Residency is when we learn how to be the kind of doctor we will eventually become – a surgeon might learn to remove an appendix, a family doctor the dozens of first line agents for high blood pressure, diabetes, joint pain, etc. Residents must work under the supervision of a program, and so residency is also done at academic centres: places where medical schools are established.
When medical students are in their final year, they enter what is called “the Match”, which is run by CaRMS (the Canadian Residency Matching Service). Each medical student enters their information into CaRMS online, and ranks the programs they would like to attend in order of preference. Each school does the same, ranking candidates that they prefer. Then, one day in March, the computer system closes and tries to optimize a “match” so that everyone gets their highest possible choice. If you don’t add a program to your rank list, you can’t be sent there. Since residency is a job (residents are paid, they care for their own patients, they are entitled to vacation and sick days), programs want to meet candidates before they offer them positions.
Standing on the tarmac after my Dad flew us to Wasaga last year
That’s what I’m doing now. For the next three weeks, I’ll bounce around Canada (in planes, trains and automobiles) interviewing at the programs where I’ve been offered an interview. In general, I call this whole process “CaRMS”. When I come back, I’ll make and submit my “rank list”, and then cross my fingers!