McGill hopes to attract “non-traditional” students to medicine through a new admissions program aimed at diversifying the faculty. Beginning in 2011, three spots out of 80 will be reserved for students who have been on a less than straight path to medical school.
“What’s different about this is that we are looking for people who interrupted their studies, which means that either they’ve been in the workforce, or raised a family,” said Saleem Razack, assistant dean for admissions for medicine at McGill. Traditional students who follow a more linear path to medical school are more likely to come from higher economic means, the dean added. “This [program] may help with the goal of having greater socioeconomic diversity in the profession.” According to Razack the program could also assist in addressing Quebec’s family doctor shortage because mature students are more likely to enter “generalist practices.”
The Quebec Federation of General Practitioners estimates that 2 million Quebecers do not have a family doctor.
The academic prerequisites will remain the same for students applying through the “non-traditional pathways” program, with the exception that the students will be eligible to apply even if they completed their undergraduate studies part-time. Regular students are required to earn their first degree through full-time study. Where admission criteria will differ will be with greater weight given to “life experience” such as working in a community focused environment or a health-related field.
When asked if the faculty had outlined a policy on how the criteria would be weighted differently, Razack said he could not disclose that information. “I’m not able to say that at this point. It’s usually stuff that we keep to ourselves,” he said.