|Participating cities (LCs)|
|Currency (or how much is a Big Mac?)||Canadian Dollar (CAD). The cost of a Big Mac varies by location and provincial tax rates.|
|Time zone||There are five time zones that range from Pacific (PST, or UTC -8:00) to Newfoundland (NST, or UTC -3:30).|
|Number of doctors and hospital beds per 1,000 people||2.1 physicians per 1,000 people | 3.2 beds per 1,000 people (World Bank, 2010)|
|Member of IFMSA since ...||1980|
|Number of incoming students per year||80|
|Our NEO/NOREs||J. Antonio Lee (Outgoing) & Stephen Cashman (Incoming)|
|Our official website / Forum / Facebook group||CFMS Website|
Our health care system
Health care in Canada is delivered through a publicly-funded health care system under the provisions of the Canadian Health Act (CHA). Medicare policies for each province differ slightly. Each province is in control of their own health care system, with the government providing the majority of the funding, provided that the provinces follow the guidelines outlined in the CHA. Some services are not covered or not completely covered by Medicare, such as most dentistry services and some medications.
The key features of the CHA include:
1. PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION - Health insurance plans must be "administered and operated on a non-profit basis by a public authority, responsible to the provincial/territorial governments and subject to audits of their accounts and financial transactions." (Section 8).
2. COMPREHENSIVENESS - Health care insurance plans must cover "all insured health services provided by hospitals, medical practitioners, or dentists" (Section 9).
3. UNIVERSALITY - All insured persons must be covered for insured health services "provided for by the plan on uniform terms and conditions" (Section 10).
4. PORTABILITY - Because plans are organized on a provincial basis, provisions are required for covering individuals who are in another province. The conditions attempt to separate temporary from more permanent absences by using three months as the maximum cut-off. As the above-mentioned summary clarifies, "residents moving from one province or territory to another must continue to be covered for insured health care services by the "home" province during any minimum waiting period, not to exceed three months, imposed by the new province of residence. After the waiting period, the new province or territory of residence assumes health care coverage."
5. ACCESSIBILITY - The insurance plan must provide for "reasonable access" to insured services by insured persons "on uniform terms and conditions, unprecluded, unimpeded, either directly or indirectly, by charges (user charges or extra-billing) or other means (age, health status or financial circumstances)" (Section 12.a). This section also provides for "reasonable compensation for [...] services rendered by medical practitioners or dentists" and payments to hospitals that cover the cost of the health services provided. Note that neither reasonable access nor reasonable compensation are defined by the CHA, although there is a presupposition that certain processes (e.g. negotiations between the provincial governments and organizations representing the providers) satisfy the condition. The CHA allows for dollar-for-dollar withholding of contributions from any provinces allowing user charges or extra-billing to insured persons for insured services.
Colleagues - During your exposure, you may work with clinical clerks, residents, fellows, and attending physicians. Clerks are senior medical students in their third or fourth year of medical studies. Residents have graduated from medical school, and are undergoing training in their chosen specialization in order to become licensed to practice. Residents in their first year of postgraduate training were formerly called interns. After completing residency, physicians can choose to pursue further specialization in a fellowship program. Attendings are physicians who have completed their postgraduate training (residency +/- fellowship) and are hired on as staff.
Working Conditions - The typical workday is 6-12 hours long, Monday to Friday. Exchange students are expected to be present for the entire 4 weeks. Some departments, such as Emergency Medicine, may require students to do shift work (night and day shifts) with sufficient time off to rest, or to be on-call overnight and/or on weekends with their team. Specific information relating to working conditions is usually sent directly to students by the respective departments or university's visiting electives office prior to arrival. Students are mandated to familiarize themselves with the material provided by departments and university administration, and to comply with any additional instructions prior to their arrival.
Our medical education
There are 17 medical schools across Canada, 14 of which are considered English-speaking institutions represented by the CFMS, and 3 of which are Francophone, represented by the FMEQ/IFMSA-Québec. Entrance requirements for each school differ slightly, but all schools require a minimum of 3 equivalent years of undergraduate study with prerequisites in English and the life sciences. Selection of students for medical school generally depends on their performance in the pre-admission interview, undergraduate grades, and their score on the North American standardized exam, the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). The average entrance age to medical school is between 22 – 24 years old.
The majority of our medical education programs are 4 years long (with summer breaks between years 1 and 2, and 2 and 3), except for the programs offered by University of Calgary and McMaster University that are 3 years in length (without summer vacation).
After we graduate from medical school, we receive our medical doctoral degree (MD), but are not licensed to practice until we complete postgraduate training in the form of a residency, which, depending on the specialty, will take between 2 (general practitioner/family doctor) to 5 (specialists) years. In all residency programs, there are options to further specialize, which can take 1-3 additional years.
While our neighbours to the south think of themselves as a "melting pot," we Canadians are proud of our heterogeneity and multiculturalism. No matter where you are from, it is highly likely that you will find in the city of your exchange your own cultural community. This means that, not only will you be able to enjoy a piece of home, but also that, if you choose, you can meet many people from vastly different backgrounds. It is an exciting opportunity that is offered in few other places in the world.
Accommodations and boarding
In bilateral exchanges, lodging will be provided free of charge. Typically, you will stay in accommodations provided by a Canadian medical student counterpart who is also pursuing an exchange, or who has already gone on an exchange. Sometimes, students are placed in apartments, hostels, or other student accommodations, such as dormitories or homestays with a host family. This will be arranged by the LEOs of the province that is hosting you. Accommodations are provided only for 4 weeks. If you wish to stay longer, you are responsible for finding your own housing.
Board is NOT included. Instead, CAD $100 pocket money is provided upon arrival to assist with the cost of groceries or hospital meals.
If available, social programs are arranged by each local committee. Students are expected to be independent. Canada is in a unique situation in that we do not host as many international students in the same city at the same time, and a great geographical distance separates most local committees. As such, it is very difficult to organize elaborate national or regional social programs.
Local and national transportation
Local transportation options depend on the host city. The following is the most up-to-date alphabetical list of transit websites.
Calgary, AB - http://www.calgarytransit.com/
Halifax, ON - http://www.halifax.ca/metrotransit/
Hamilton, ON - http://www.hamilton.ca/CityServices/transit/
Kingston, ON - http://www.cityofkingston.ca/residents/transit
London, ON - http://www.ltconline.ca/
Ottawa, ON - http://www.octranspo1.com/
Saskatoon, SK - http://transit.saskatoon.ca/
St. John's, NL - http://www.metrobustransit.ca/
Sudbury, ON - http://www.greatersudbury.ca/living/transit/
Thunder Bay, ON - http://www.thunderbay.ca/Living/Getting_Around/Thunder_Bay_Transit.htm
Toronto, ON - http://www.ttc.ca/
Vancouver, BC - http://www.translink.ca/
Winnipeg, MB - http://winnipegtransit.com/
In terms of regional or national transportation, students can cross Canada by either bus (e.g. Greyhound, Coach Canada, MegaBus), train (e.g. Via Rail, GO Transit), car rental (multiple options), or plane (e.g., Air Canada, Porter Airlines, WestJet) depending on your preference and financial considerations.
Canada is the second largest country in the world; therefore, weather can understandably vary greatly. The following is a good website to get a general idea of what the weather will be like in the location of your exchange: http://weather.gc.ca/
Every city has a unique social scene. Please review the LC pages for further information.
Please refer to the following links for our Exchange Conditions:
IFMSA-Canada SCORE Exchange Conditions: (IFMSA.net)
IFMSA-Canada SCOPE Exchange Conditions: (IFMSA.org)