On May 15, McGill medical students and family physicians gathered to celebrate the end of the academic year, in particular the conclusion of the Longitudinal Family Medicine Experience (LFME) course. For the last eight months, all 183 first-year medical students have been paired with a family medicine preceptor, providing them with early exposure to primary care.
Initially spearheaded in 2011 by Dr. Leonora Lalla, Associate Dean of Continuing Professional Development in the Faculty of Medicine and Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine, the intent of the LFME course was to increase interest in the practice of family medicine by introducing clinical experience in the early stages of medical education.
“The LFME course has truly made a significant difference in how engaged students feel when they start medical school,” says Dr. David Eidelman, Vice-Principal (Health Affairs) and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, who adds that the LFME course is most often mentioned by first-year medical students as a positive experience.
Over the course of 14 sessions spread throughout the academic year, students were able to attend more than 12, 000 visits in a variety of clinical settings, during which they took part in more than 5, 000 examination components alongside their preceptors.
“I have had the chance to shadow other specialists, but never have these experiences compared to the variety of topics I have learned with my family doctor,” explains Rami Habib, President of the MDCM Class of 2022. “Every time I told myself that I had seen it all, another patient would walk in with something I had never seen before. Knowing and being able to recognize the multitude of pathologies was quite intimidating, yet so enriching.”
An increasing number of family physicians have been joining the course as preceptors as a way to further their own education as health professionals. As of this year, all 183 registered preceptors have received faculty appointments, with 23 new family physicians joining the course.
As the course continues to evolve, big changes are coming, including splitting the program into two blocks to allow students to shadow two preceptors instead of one, as well as the launch of the Preceptor Learning Program to help new preceptors acclimate to their new functions.
“What the LFME course truly does is make us physicians feel more purposeful, more motivated,” says Dr. Tara McCarthy, LFME preceptor and Osler Fellow for the Class of 2019. “It helps us to find our passion again and keeps us going.”