There is a possibility that in 6 months time I could be a real MD. Here’s a quick update.
In third year we rotated through all the major disciplines, hence “third year rotations”. In fourth year we electively choose to participate in the disciplines of interest to us, hence “fourth year electives”, plus we do some other stuff. After summer break I did electives in internal medicine, anesthesiology, general surgery and family medicine (which will take me to Christmas).
These electives have been great, but fourth year is really all about 3 things:
- The Clinical Exam. This happened over two days last weekend. We find out in January if we passed. It was kind for them to allow us to enjoy the Christmas holidays with some illusion of success.
- The Licensing Exam. This will happen in the spring.
- The Canadian Residency Matching Service (CaRMS). This is the big one.
- First, we apply to all the programs in Canada where we would be willing to do a residency. You can apply to as many different disciplines (specialties) in as many locations as you like. The advice is: don’t apply to just one location, and if you are applying to a very competitive discipline, back it up with a second or third discipline in case you aren’t chosen. In other words, put lots of eggs in lots of baskets. Applications for this are now closed.
- Second, the residency programs look at the hundreds of applications they receive and short-list the students they may like to work with for the residency years. They invite these students for interviews that will take place in Jan/Feb. We are now awaiting these interview notifications, which should come in the next few weeks.
- Lastly, after the interviews, there is a final selection period where we rank the programs we like, and they rank the students they like. The computer then goes to work to try to make the most people happy, and on March 1, 2017, we will receive an email notifying us of our residency discipline and location.
I’m not applying to any specialties, but my three favourite specialty disciplines were Internal Medicine, Emergency Medicine and Anesthesiology. If I could go back in time by 20 years to start all this again, I would have been an Intensivist (Critical Care doctor) and combined all three. However, if I were to go back in time by 20 years to start again as an Anesthetist-ER-Intensivist, I would just now be completing my training. I would have a lot of good stories and a lot of adrenaline under the bridge, but I wouldn’t have my family, and I may not have any family. Sometimes it’s best to be happy with the life you have, especially if it’s a good life. (I include a few random family pictures here for emphasis).
In the end I applied only to Family Medicine, which I think is a surprise to no one. I entered every rotation of third year with a wide-open mind, afraid to close the door prematurely on anything that might have been my perfect career match, but in the end nothing outweighed the benefit of a two year residency and the flexibility to shape my practice in the direction I choose when I am done. I enjoyed my rural family practice rotation in Ft. St. James. I love the idea of being a really good generalist. I love that in a rural setting you can be a family doc, a clinic doc and an emergency doc all in one day. In hindsight I wish I had left that rotation for later in my year so I could have experienced it with a more commanding perspective. For now my tentative plan is to complete my residency and then gain as much clinic and emergency room experience as possible while our kids are finishing high school and transitioning to university. At that point, rural practice will become a very real possibility. Bruce has mentioned he may prefer a place with fewer doctors and more fish. In time, I may consider a “plus one” year in emergency medicine or anesthesiology; that is an option that remains open for us. Truthfully, there are a lot of options, and the family medicine residency program will give me plenty of time to think about them all. Every once in awhile I still get flashbacks to that childhood vision of flying medicine into the remote corners of the world.
I feel surprisingly good about the decision to pursue family medicine. I was afraid it would be a decision I ‘had’ to make, but in the end I owned it fully. I applied to the program in Prince George, of course, and in keeping with all the advice we were given I applied to a few other places across the country as well.
Thanks for following along, guys. I’ll keep you posted!