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It takes a village

Since the release of our Report on Unmatched Canadian Medical Graduates (uCMG), the AFMC has worked relentlessly to address this crisis. We have advocated that provincial governments consider increasing the number of residency positions to augment the ratio of undergraduate to post graduate positions to 1:1.2, and to unblend the CMG and IMG streams. We are encouraged by the fact that Ontario and Alberta have both changed their policy to unblend the second iteration for the 2019 match. We are hopeful that this will have at least a modest effect on reducing the number of uCMG.

We also asked our undergraduate medical education and student affairs offices to do everything in their power to support medical students in their career counseling, decision-making around the match, and to enhance support for students unmatched after the first iteration and unmatched after the second iteration in preparation for their match in the following year. The response has been amazing. We've been incredibly impressed with the report back of student affairs and undergraduate medical education leaders. The support provided to students is incredible.

Our post graduate deans have also significantly moved forward in implementing the nationally supported Best Practice in Admissions and Selections recommendations. These will ensure that all applicants are treated in a fair and transparent manner. This requires extensive new work and processes for our postgraduate offices, program directors and selection committees and is an important commitment by all decision makers for an improved process moving forward.

The AFMC continues to advocate for a national resident transfer system with financial support. This is strongly supported by all learning organizations and will be on the agenda of our meetings with decision makers and funders.

So what is the role of our students? They have applied to their preferred residency positions, just concluded their match interviews and are now considering their Rank Order List (ROL). No doubt, each student wants to match to their preferred program. We know that this is not always the case.  In the current contexts, students need to be mindful that they do their part in matching. Students have the ability to rank all the programs to which they applied. Students should consider putting on their ROL any program they would deem at all a possibility for them. This is how each student can do his or her part to improve the overall success of the resident match.

At AFMC, we envision a future where graduates of Canadian medical schools have the opportunity to successfully match to a residency program in the year of graduation. Should they be unsatisfied with their match, they would have an opportunity at a later date to transfer to another program. At the end of the day, we want our graduates to successfully complete the residency program that will allow them to practice in a specialty that will provide them with great professional satisfaction while meeting the needs of society.

As you can see, it takes a village that includes student affairs, undergraduate, postgraduate deans, program directors and selections committee and all those who support them, as well as our funders, to make this work. Lastly and most importantly, it takes our students’ willingness to Rank broadly to bring us to a successful resident match that will allow our graduates to pursue rewarding careers with the ultimate goal of better serving the Canadian population.