More MD Grads Pursue Residency Training

Jul 9, 2018
Heidi Singer

An additional 16 graduating medical students at U of T are continuing their training in residency spots this year – primarily in the Department of Family and Community Medicine – thanks to the Ontario government’s temporary expansion of available positions announced in April.

All students in the 2018 MD graduating class now have found their next step, with the vast majority continuing on to residencies, and a few choosing to pursue further education and research.

“I'm grateful that the Ministry heard our voices and moved quickly to offer a residency spot to each of our deserving and highly qualified students,” says Professor Patricia Houston, Vice Dean of the MD Program. “Now we need to come together with the same level of urgency to create an enduring solution to the mismatch in residency positions to Canadian medical school graduates cross Canada.”

Although 92 per cent of U of T medical students matched to residency positions across the country in the first or second round this spring, there weren’t enough spots for everyone due to cutbacks in residency funding and an ongoing backlog of unmatched students. The Ontario government agreed in April to provide $23 million to offer a residency spot to all 53 unmatched Ontario medical students. In the end, 33 accepted one of the new spots, while the rest elected to pursue other opportunities, according to the Council of Ontario Universities.

At U of T, the temporary solution allowed the remaining students to enter residency positions in family medicine, internal medicine and psychiatry, all based in Toronto but with two-year return-of-service contracts that could see them posted anywhere in Ontario. All remaining graduating students were offered one of these positions.

To become a practicing physician in Canada, medical school graduates must complete a residency program. At the end of their fourth year of “undergraduate” medical training, graduating students apply to a postgraduate residency program, such as family medicine, psychiatry or surgery.

Faculty of Medicine leaders, led by Dean Trevor Young, and students, led by the student-run Medical Society, are working with Queen’s Park officials for a permanent solution to the shortage. Potential fixes include budgeting for flexible residency spots that could be offered to unmatched students each year, and updating the matching system, which is run by a federal not-for-profit organization.

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