McGill med students hit hard by FMSQ action


Published: 27Nov2006

Clinical teaching crippled in some areas, will continue where possible

McGill University will continue to offer clerkships or hospital rotations to its medical students wherever possible despite escalating disruptions to clinical supervision as a result of an employment dispute between medical specialists and the Quebec government, Dr. Richard I. Levin, Dean of McGill's Faculty of Medicine and Vice-Principal (Health Affairs), announced today.

"About 60 per cent of our students assigned to rotations have not been allowed to participate in clinical activities," Dr. Levin said. "But we will continue to assign students rotations in those areas that are not affected so far.

"Our primary goal is to ensure our students receive the highest quality training," he said. "This is the most extensive disruption to teaching in memory in the Faculty," Dr. Levin said, and he added that "this adversely affects not only the teaching of undergraduate medical students, but resident physicians as well."

The Université de Montréal, where at least 80 per cent of medical students have been affected by pressure tactics by the Fédération des médecins spécialistes du Québec (FMSQ), announced today it was canceling all clerkships, or "stages" as they are called in French, to avoid greater disruptions of the students' school year. Université Laval and Université de Sherbrooke have also been affected.

"We are monitoring the situation closely as it affects McGill students and will take action as appropriate," he said.

Clinical rotations are a required part of medical school training. Students in their third and fourth years of medical school function as apprentices, called clinical clerks, in the hospitals, each spending eight-week rotations in different specialties such as obstetrics, pediatrics and surgery. It is a vital part of their education, as physicians learn through practice. Over the past few weeks, as the dispute has escalated, medical specialists have withdrawn from clinical teaching of students, affecting about 100 third-year students and 30 fourth-year students at McGill. Students cannot graduate without completing all rotations.

In addition, work action by specialists has resulted in cancelled classes for first- and second-year medical students. The dispute is also affecting residents who have graduated from medical school but require further training, usually in hospital, to become either a specialist or family physician. Teaching and evaluation by specialists have stopped because of the work action.

McGill has 670 medical students. McGill University, which is at the centre of RUIS McGill, has four primary teaching hospitals in Montreal: the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), Jewish General Hospital, Douglas Hospital and St. Mary's Hospital.

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