What is the difference between the different Family Medicine Units on the Island of Montreal?

  • This is the most FAQ with regards to our Montreal sites. There are 3 Family Medicine Units (FMU) in Montreal: CSSS de la Montagne (CLSC Cote-des-Neiges - CDN), Herzl (JGH), and St. Mary’s Family Medicine Centre (SMH). Our goal is to train all residents to be competent Family Physicians. The curriculum that is delivered at all sites is uniform and monitored by the Postgraduate Education Committee of the Department of Family Medicine. All units offer exposure to a diverse patient population with wide range of illnesses.
  • Located in a brand new pavilion (July 2007), the Herzl Family Medicine Unit is located adjacent to the Jewish General Hospital (JGH) where the residents complete most of their specialty rotations. The JGH is a tertiary hospital center with a strong tradition of having Family Medicine as an integral part of many divisions within the Hospital. The primary language of day to day functioning within the unit and the Hospital is English; however, a basic knowledge of French is essential in all Montreal Units. The Herzl patient population ranges from Pediatrics to Geriatrics and is multiethnic in nature. The attending staff at Herzl have a wide range of interests including Perinatal Care, Care of the Elderly, Adolescent Medicine, Addiction Medicine, Behavioural Medicine, Palliative Care, and Women’s Health.
  • Across the street from the JGH is the CSSS de la Montagne (CLSC CDN). This is perhaps the best known Community Clinic in Quebec thanks to the multitude of nationalities who are cared for within this clinic as well as many innovative programs in Community Primary Health Care. The residents based at this unit will complete their in-hospital rotations at the JGH, SMH, and at the Montreal Chest Hospital. The CSSS de la Montagne’s patient population ranges from Pediatrics to Geriatrics. The attending staff at this center have a wide range of interests including Perinatal Care, Care of the Elderly, Adolescent Medicine Addiction Medicine, Behavioural Medicine, Palliative Care, Home Care, Social Pediatrics, and Women’s Health. It is of note that Santé Acceuil, Montreal’s only clinic for refugees, is located in this clinic. It is essential that the candidate applying to this site is comfortable with conversational French as there is a significant francophone patient population at this site.
  • St. Mary’s Family Medicine Center is located in the Hayes Pavilion adjacent to St. Mary’s Hospital, a Secondary Care Level Hospital. This center has been recently fully renovated. Family Physicians have a great deal of presence at all levels of care at this center. The majority of residents at this Hospital are Family Medicine Residents thus providing them with a great deal of hands on experience. The SMH patient population ranges from Pediatrics to Geriatrics. The attending staff at SMH have a wide range of interests including Perinatal Care, Care of the Elderly, Adolescent Medicine, Behavioural Medicine, Palliative Care, and Women’s Health. The primary language of day to day functioning within the unit and the Hospital is English; however, a basic knowledge of French is essential.

What are the options located outside of Montreal?

There are several training options/opportunities outside of Montreal and they include the following:

  • Gatineau Family Medicine Unit is in a brand new building located in the beautiful setting of Gatineau about 2 hours from Montreal and 15 minutes from Ottawa.  The center is considered a semi-urban training site and is affiliated with the CSSS Gatineau Hospitals. The main Hospital in Gatineau is within a 5-minute walking distance from the FMU and there is strong presence of Family Physicians within the Hospital.  The majority of residents at this Hospital are Family Medicine Residents providing the residents with a great deal of hands on experience. The Gatineau patient population ranges from Pediatrics to Geriatrics.   The attending staff in Gatineau have a wide range of interests including Perinatal Care, Care of the Elderly, Adolescent Medicine, Behavioural Medicine, Palliative Care, and Women’s Health.  The primary language of day to day functioning within the unit and the Hospital is French.
  • CSSS Jardins-Roussillons (Anna-Laberge Hospital) in Chateauguay. This unit opened in 2009. The location is suburban. The population is varied and the resident will get an exposure to an active primary care hospital with integrated Family Medicine involvement at all levels of care. The hospital has a busy emergency room and case room, and a large population in need of primary care physicians. The primary language of day to day functioning within the unit and the Hospital is French.
  • CSSS de la Vallee d'Or (UMF - Val D'Or). This unit opened in 2009, although students and residents had been training there as part of our McGill rural sites for many years. The unit and the hospital are situated in the regional centre for this area of Abitibi-Temiscamingue, and they serve a large catchment area which includes the local towns and aboriginal communities. The hospital is a busy referral centre, with a large emergency room and an active obstetrical unit. The family physician is fully integrated into every aspect of the functioning of the hospital. The Unit has developed a unique integrated model of family medicine teaching which involved the resident in the normal life of a family doctor in the region. The primary language of day to day functioning within the unit and the Hospital is French.
  • Six month "Rural Stream": Residents also have the option of completing 6 consecutive months in either Shawville or the Val D'Or rural sites, depending on availability. The residents assigned to either site will spend 18 months in one of the Montreal Units or in the Gatineau Unit and 6 months in the PGY2 year in Shawville or Val D'Or. Residents will be required to commit to this option before the start of their residency, in order for their curriculum to be planned for the two years.
  • All residents within the Program are required to spend 2 consecutive months within a rural practice.  The McGill University Réseau spans across the province and residents have a wide range of options to choose from. The rural rotations are consistently highly rated by residents at McGill.

How do I get assigned to a unit?

During your CaRMS interview you will have an opportunity to visit all the Montreal Units. We encourage you to gather as much information about our sites as possible at this time. You will be asked to rank your preference and submit your rank list shortly after your CaRMS interview.  Once the CaRMS results are released and you are matched to McGill Family Medicine, we will then compile a mini-match list and residents will be assigned to one of their three choices. We make every effort to give residents their first choice. Although the numbers can vary from year to year, an average of 87% of residents get their first choice and the remaining get their second. We do not consider the site choices of the residents when we make our CaRMS Match list. Residents will not be assigned to a unit that was not listed on their mini-match form.

What if I don’t like my choice?

The mini-match results are final. Transfers within the units are only permitted under exceptional circumstances and are considered on a case-by-case basis.  This includes the choice for the 6 month rural option, although we will confirm your interest in this before you begin your residency in July.

Can I do an Out-of-Province Elective?

The Quebec government allows residents to do two Out-of-Province Electives during their residency. These electives must be first approved by the College des Medecins du Quebec (CMQ). The resident must be able to demonstrate that one of the two electives is not readily available in Quebec.

How do I prepare for exams?

Since July 2006, all our units have regularly scheduled exam preparatory sessions.

How about 3rd Year Programs?

About 25% of our residents choose a 3rd year Fellowship among our 6 fellowship Programs.  These are generally competitive Programs and if you have completed your Family Medicine Residency at McGill University you improve your chances of being accepted into the program of your choice. Currently, we have the following 3rd Year Programs available: Emergency, Maternal Child, Care of the Elderly, Palliative Care, Sports Medicine, Hospital Medicine, and the Clinician Scholar Program (CSP).

What about my teaching?

All Family Medicine Residents have Wednesday afternoons set aside for Core Teaching.  This is a time when you are released from your clinical responsibilities in order to attend the teaching sessions.  The curriculum for these teaching sessions is determined by the Department of Family Medicine’s Postgraduate Committee.  There is typically 1 Common Core Teaching Session per period where residents from all units gather together for the teaching session. The remaining 3 sessions per month are held locally in each of the base FMU sites.

I am an International Medical Graduate (IMG). Do you offer "observership" rotations?

Due to the large demand for these rotations and the lack of resources, the Department of Family Medicine is unable to provide such rotations at this time.  However, you may contact other Community Hospitals and Physicians directly to set up these rotations.

What are the selection criteria for IMGs?

The selection criteria for IMGs are no different than any other candidate. As this a very heterogeneous group of applicants (physicians with many years of experience, recent graduates, Family Physicians, Specialists, etc) the same criteria used for Recent Canadian Graduates and Practicing Physicians requesting return to residency are applied when reviewing these applications. Please consult the CaRMS website for more information.

How can I improve my chances to get a residency training position if I am an IMG?

In order to maximize your chances you should carefully review our selection criteria and see if you meet these criteria (available on CARMS site).  You should also speak to other IMGs already enrolled in the Family Medicine Residency Program at McGill to better prepare for the application process: interview techniques and personal letter are two commonly challenging areas.  It is imperative that your transcript is easily understood and the marking scheme is well defined on the transcript.  As with all candidates fluency in English (for Montreal Units) and French is essential.

Are letters of reference really important in my selection process?

We read every letter of reference! They are very important. It is critical that these letters reflect on you as a clinician and as a person covering aspects such as clinical knowledge, clinical judgment, interpersonal communication skills, and team work.  These letters should be typed and appear on the proper letterhead and signed with the referee’s contact information. We reserve the right to contact the referees for clarification and/or verification of the information. References from senior residents are not accepted.

Do I need to take an elective in Family Medicine?

If you are a McGill University Medical Student you will have done 2 months of Family Medicine during your clerkship.  If you do not have Family Medicine as part of your core clerkship rotations it is strongly recommended that you do an elective in Family Medicine.  Otherwise it is highly desirable that your electives demonstrate a wide range of interests.

Can I practice where I choose when I finish my residency?

There is a shortage of Family Physicians all across Canada.  You will have no difficulty finding employment after finishing your residency.  In Quebec there are a limited number of spots that are available in the larger University Centers.  The number of spots available is reviewed every year and there are many excellent opportunities within a short distance of all major cities including Montreal and Quebec City.  You may consult the Montreal Regional Department of Medicine (DRMG) for the most recent updates on the regulations and conditions governing setting up your practice in Montreal upon graduation.  Please take note that many of these conditions and regulations are updated on an annual basis.

Will I feel confident to practice independently after 2 years of residency?

Our goal is to provide you with an excellent education and the tools for life long learning.  No residency, no matter how long they are, can teach you all you need to know.  What is important is to know where to get the support when needed.

Do I need to speak French?

Châteauguay, Gatineau, and Val D’Or are entirely French FMUs and require fluency in French.  For the Montreal sites, we require a minimum of high school-level French for all our candidates.  This is often a great opportunity for candidates to improve their French skills.

What are the research opportunities in Family Medicine at McGill University?

The Department of Family Medicine at McGill University has a very active research division. There are many research opportunities available to interested residents.  Furthermore, there are multiple resources to assist the residents in either embarking on a new research project or joining an already existing one.  We make every effort to help the resident find the time to pursue a research project.

Who do I contact if I have questions?

If we have not managed to answer your questions, you may contact the Postgraduate Administrator at the Department of Family Medicine: julie.lane [at] mcgill.ca (Ms. Julie Lane).

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