To you explorers of the New World, we say bienvenue! By making Québec your destination for a SCOPE exchange, you chose the best way to discover North America’s crème de la crème. Indeed, Québec is a province rich in culture and history. Our strong French heritage transpires in many aspects of our lives today, even after 400 years of representing a Latin-blooded minority in a sea of Anglo-Saxon neighbours. The intermingling of the English and French cultures molded this piece of Canada into a unique society we are sure you will enjoy discovering! Thus the Quebecers (or rather, Québécois) you will meet during your exchange are likely to be very proud to show you their festive way of life and warm hospitality. However, do not expect our cities and villages to be pale replicas of Europe. Though our roots contributed in shaping what we are today, Québec is most definitely North American. Our high standards of work performance will prove to be a very rewarding challenge for any medical student. So, from the busy streets of Montréal to the breathtaking landscapes of the countryside, be ready for an unforgettable experience!
Country: Canada Province: Québec Official language: French SCOPE exchanges: French mandatory, except for countries eligible for McGill clerkships. Currency: Canadian Dollar 1 CAD = 0.62 € Country dialing code: +1
Traveling tips: Best way to travel around is to rent a car, but also by train or bus. Flights can be expensive however, since there is no very cheap carrier in Canada.
Local calls: If you call a local number from a landline, all calls are free since the only fee is a monthly one. Around the city, there are payphones that cost 50 cents a call. Also, if you decide to get a mobile phone while on exchange, it would be wise to remember that both parties are charged for the call, even if you are receiving the call.
From the hospital, just dial 9 before the number you are calling to get an outside line.
National transportation: There is not one main national carrier. Many airline and bus companies service Quebec and Canada. For transport by train, please visit the Via Rail website: www.viarail.ca
Local transportation: please see LC section
Electricity: 120V at 60Hz
Plug/socket type: North American: Type A and B
Our healthcare system
The Canadian health care system is a public one. In Quebec, all residents are covered by la Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ), a public health insurance plan and a public prescription drug insurance plan, established in 1969. “For more than three decades, Québec society has benefited from a public health and social services system designed to maintain, improve and restore the health of its citizens. The broad underlying principles on which this system is based are universality, equity and the evolving nature of coverage for healthcare services.”
This means that as long as your RAMQ card is valid, if you need to visit the emergency room, a medical clinic, or need to be hospitalized, it would be free. However, the RAMQ only covers prescription drugs for certain individuals, thus many people have private insurance to cover this expense.
Most Canadians are proud of this system but despite its strengths, access to its services can be long and arduous. Thus, the topic of a private health care system co-existing with a public one in Quebec has been a very “hot” subject of late.
Hopefully, your elective will give you an insight into our system and into your own country’s system and allow you to develop your personal vision of health care in a more global way as well as a better knowledge of international health.  http://www.ramq.gouv.qc.ca/  Steinbrook, R.. (2006, April). Private Health Care in Canada. New England Journal of Medicine, 354. 1663
Our medical education
In Quebec, the duration of medical school is four years; two years of pre-clinical studies and two years of clerkship (externat). However, depending on the program, it can last five years.
Only in Quebec do we have the possibility to enter medical school directly after CEGEP, a 2 year college degree completed after our 5 years of high school. Therefore, many students complete one year of pre-med which involves classes in basic sciences such as anatomy, physiology, cellular biology, etc. before starting the four year medical program.
However, in Sherbrooke, the pre-med year does not exist, thus all students, whether bachelors or CEGEP students, enter directly into the four year program.
At Université Laval, each student can choose to complete the medical program in four, four and a half, or five years. This decision depends on the students’ background and their specific needs throughout their education. This allows them to work, take elective classes or travel during their pre-clinical studies.
Most of the medical faculties in Quebec have adopted the Problem Based Learning system (or in french, Apprentissage par problème) where students develop their medical knowledge as they read around and work on cases that are presented to them in small groups of 8-10 students. To further consolidate their knowledge, tutorial classes are also included in their curriculum.
Early clinical exposure is very important in our curriculum. Therefore, as early as the first year of medical school, students are required to spend one day per week at the hospital in order to refine their history taking skills as well as their physical exam.
Language: If you think you speak French, wait until you hear the way true Quebecers speak it! Our language is a big part of our culture and our identity, with its unique expressions and words. Do not be shocked to hear people speaking English and French at the same time, a language we like to call Franglais, which is quite prevalent, especially in Montreal.
Greeting: In Québec, if you greet a friend, most people will faire la bise which is a kiss on each cheek. If it is a close friend, you can either faire la bise or give them a hug. Shaking hands is also customary.
Tipping: In restaurants, it is customary (ie, expected of you) to tip about 15% of the price of the meal before taxes. (A trick is to add up the tax on your bill - which is 13%) In bars, it is customary to tip 1CAD per drink. Outings: If you are invited to a party, it is always nice of you to bring your own drinks/beers, but if you don’t, the host will most often offer you something. At bars with friends, you can buy your own drinks or buy a round for your gang! It really depends on who you are out with, but there are no strict rules on how to divide finances.
Bars in Quebec are legally bound to stop serving drinks at 3AM and most places are closed by then as well. The legal drinking age is 18.
If you are out at dinner with friends, each person usually pays for their own meal. Bills are usually printed for each individual, unless you tell them you simply want 1 bill.
Accommodation & Boarding
Most incomings will be lodged in Québec outgoings’ apartments or other student apartments. There is no boarding on IFMSA-Québec exchanges, thus 200CAD pocket money will be given to all incomings for food needs.
All incomings are coupled with a contact person. Social Program is more active during summer months, when most students are on exchange and are organized by LC's (please see specific section).
Quebec has four seasons; summer, autumn, winter and spring. Winters can be very cold, with temperatures hitting the -25 degrees Celsius mark or lower. Snowfall can be quite abundant, so bring a warm ski jacket and some good boots! Summer weather is quite comfortable, with average temperatures in the mid to high 20s, with the occasional humid heat wave.
We use the metric temperature system in Celsius.
Cities offered for exchange
- Montréal (Université de Montréal & McGill University)
- Québec City
- Trois-Rivières (in trial)
IMPORTANT things to remember:
- Please submit the complete list of documents required by your LC 5 MONTHS ahead of your exchange start date
- FLUENT FRENCH is MANDATORY for all French LCs as NO OBSERVATION CLERKSHIPS ARE AVAILABLE and you will be directly in contact with patients
- Please pay close attention to exchange periods in each LCs are most universities follow their own specific calendar