MythBusters: All my undergraduate courses need to be completed at the current year of study e.g. when in third year, all courses need to be at the third year level.

This myth is FALSE.

You are expected to take some courses that correspond with your year of study in your program.  If you are applying during your third year of study, at least three courses should be at the third year or higher level.  If you are applying during your fourth year of study, at least three courses should be at the third or fourth year level. You are not expected to have a large number of lower year courses when you reach the upper years, however, it is understood that courses outside you major area of study may need to be taken at an introductory level.

Understanding the academies

A special feature of the University of Toronto (U of T) MD Program is its academy structure. There are four academies. The St. George campus includes the Fitzgerald, Peters-Boyd and Wightman-Berris Academies. The Mississauga campus has one academy – the Mississauga Academy of Medicine (MAM).


Each of the four academies is comprised of clusters of the University’s affiliated hospitals and health care sites. All U of T medical students are allocated to an academy for the period of their MD studies.

The academies foster a smaller learning environment within a larger program and provide the hospital-based portions of the curriculum in a supportive, student-focused learning environment. At each of the academies, students learn clinical skills, participate in problem-based learning, inter-professional education, and conduct research in community-based partner agencies.

During clerkship, students from all academies also attend rotations at different sites, including The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and other sites around the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

FitzGerald Academy
This academy is named after 2004 Canadian Medical Hall of Fame inductee, John Gerald FitzGerald (1882-1940). FitzGerald was Canada’s public health visionary, responsible for the development and dissemination of free vaccines to every Canadian, the formation of Canada’s first School of Hygiene at the University of Toronto, and the establishment of Connaught Laboratories (previously a world leader in Insulin production).

Also known as Fitz, the FitzGerald Academy is located in downtown Toronto and includes St. Michael’s Hospital and St. Joseph’s Health Centre. Caring for some of the city’s most vulnerable populations, St. Michael’s Hospital cares for about 24,000 inpatients annually.

Currently, Fitz’s first –year enrolment is 54 students. In total, Fitz registers over 700 preclerkship, clerkship and elective medical students per year.

Mississauga Academy of Medicine
The newest of the four academies is the Mississauga Academy of Medicine, also known as MAM. It is located in the Terrence Donnelly Health Sciences Complex at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Partnered with the Trillium Health Partners (THP) servicing the Peel and GTA region, MAM works with the following sites offering both acute and community-based care:

• Credit Valley Hospital
• Mississauga Hospital
• Queensway Health Centre

“MAM is relatively small so we all get to know each other very well, hence being affectionately known as the ‘Mamily’”, say 1T8 student Tejas Desai who studies at MAM.
MAM usually admits 54 students and currently has a total of 216 students — or ‘MAMers’, as they call themselves.

Peters-Boyd Academy
The Peters-Boyd Academy, also known as PB, is comprised of three hospitals:

• Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
• Women’s College Hospital
• North York General Hospital

Matthew Taylor, a 1T8 student based at PB , describes the different hospitals, “Sunnybrook is a large hospital campus with advanced facilities for in-patients. North York General is a smaller hospital with a community care feel and Women’s College Hospital is focused on out-patient care. “

PB is named after Dr. Vera Peters (1911-1993) and Dr. William Boyd (1885-1979). Dr. Peters was a professor of radiology at the University of Toronto and a pioneer in the radiation treatment of cancer, acclaimed for her contributions to the treatment of Hodgkin’s disease. Dr. Boyd was an author, award-winning teacher and professor of pathology at U of T.

Currently, PB enrollment is 60 students for first year and registers over 400 preclerkship, clerkship and elective medical students every year.

As Dave Scholl, a 1T7 and Wightman-Berris (WB) student, notes, “WB is the largest academy, providing a rich network of friends and colleagues.” WB is comprised of:

• UHN (University Health Network) – including Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and Toronto Rehab
• Sinai Health System – including Mount Sinai Hospital and Bridgepoint
• Michael Garron Hospital, formerly Toronto East General Hospital

WB is named after Dr. KJR Wightman (1914-1978), who was Physician-in-Chief of the Toronto General and post-graduate Dean at U of T, and Dr. Barnet Berris (1921-2009) who was a clinical teacher and the Physician-in-Chief at Mount Sinai.

At this time WB student enrolment is 91 first-year students. Over 700 preclerkship, clerkship and elective students are registered at the academy every year.

A Day in the Life of a Clinical Clerk

Clerkship comprises the last two years of the four-year MD Program.

Clinical clerkship is an integrated learning experience that builds on the knowledge, skills and professional attitudes introduced in preclerkship or, as it will be known at U of T from fall 2016, the Foundations Curriculum. Through practical application in clinical settings as part of a health care team, students learn about caring for patients effectively, efficiently and humanely. Clinical clerks move through a series of rotations including Anesthesia, Emergency Medicine, Family and Community Medicine, Paediatrics and Surgery among others.

“In clerkship you’ll learn a lot about medicine, but more importantly you’ll learn a lot about life and even more about yourself,” notes David Scholl, a 3rd year medical student and clinical clerk.

A typical day in clerkship can vary considerably between different types of core rotations. An average day on Family Medicine, for example, is very different from an average day on Surgery.


David Scholl, 3rd year clinical clerk (photo: Jason McConnery)

Here, Scholl outlines his typical day as a clinical clerk based on a composite of his experiences to date:

5:30 a.m. My alarm goes off. I can’t believe its morning already! My body complains as I roll out of bed and make my way to the bathroom. I brush my teeth while the shower warms up. I look at my reflection in the mirror and make a silent promise to be in bed by 10:00 p.m. tonight so tomorrow morning will be better. After a good steam and scrub, I pour myself a bowl of cereal and quickly review some notes before packing up my bag and heading out the door.

6:30 a.m. It’s still dark out when I arrive at work. The hospital is quiet and empty in stark contrast to what it will be like at mid-day. I make my way up to the call room to change into my scrubs. One great perk of being a med student is that it feels wonderful to wear pyjamas all day. I print the patient list for morning rounds and start reviewing my patients’ labs and vitals. The resident shows up shortly after and we proceed to conduct rounds of our patients.

8:00 a.m. Time for teaching! I make my way to the seminar room with a few of my classmates for a one-hour teaching session with a staff physician. This unfailingly reminds me how much material I have to learn this weekend. Seminars are interesting but tiring at this time of day.

9:00 a.m. Back to the wards. The hospital starts to spring to life as the normal work-day begins. Hunger starts to creep up on me as I bounce between the wards and emergency department to make a start on the first consults of the day.

11:00 a.m. I’ve been at work for five and a half hours already. I’ve seen and written notes on all of my patients and completed a consult or two. I can’t ignore my hunger anymore so I make my way down to the cafeteria for a quick bite to eat.

11:15 a.m. After barely pausing to swallow my food, I am back to work. The afternoon is spent on the wards and seeing further consults. My ‘free’ time is spent making a start on discharge summaries for our patients as this reduces the workload we might face later.

4:00 p.m. Today I am lucky to have some one-on-one time for informal teaching with the resident and I also manage to review my study book to learn around my current patients.

5:00 p.m. The resident and I show up promptly for handover with the on-call team. It is ideal to show up early and be the first to handover your patients so you can go home shortly after. We carefully review each patient and their management plan before I find myself changing back into my street clothes and speeding to the elevators.

6:00 p.m. I arrive home, barely getting through the door before kicking off my shoes and tossing my bag on the floor. I change into my gym clothes and head down to the gym for a run. Exercise can be hard to come by in clerkship unless you make a routine of it.

6:30 p.m. I open the fridge and pour myself a big glass of water. I inspect some leftover pasta from the night before and re-heat it in the microwave. ‘Netflix-and-Eat’ is a nice treat after a long day!

7:00 p.m. A classmate sends me a text that there will be board games or a movie at his place tonight. A few others, living in the same block, get together to take a crack at ‘Pandemic.’ After a few hours we part ways. As I walk home I remind myself that as we near the end of the rotation these gatherings will sadly transform into individual study time.

9:30 p.m. I open my bag and pull out my study book. I have a seminar tomorrow morning and need to do some prep-work tonight to make the most of the teaching tomorrow. I put my iTunes on shuffle and sit down at the table to sift through the chapter.

10:30 p.m. I have a quick shower and brush my teeth before bed. I do one last check of my computer to answer any e-mails I had neglected earlier in the day and inevitably skim through Facebook.

11:00 p.m. Lights out and in bed. I need a good sleep tonight knowing that tomorrow I have a 26-hour call shift.

David Scholl is a 3rd year medical student at the University of Toronto (1T7). As a member of the Trinity College Class of 1T3 he completed a double major in Biochemistry and Human Biology at the University of Toronto.

Spotlight on Daffydil: the Musical – 2016

For over 100 years, the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto has performed Daffydil, a spectacular theatrical production, to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society. Since its inception, Daffydil has raised over $600,000 for charity. The show is entirely produced, directed, written and performed by students in the Faculty of Medicine. This year’s Daffydil musical will take place in the Hart House Theatre at the University of Toronto on the evenings of February 17-20, 2016. Tickets are on sale now at or 416.978.8849.

Perhaps one day it’ll be you treading the boards to star in a Daffydil production?  Watch this short video to learn more about Daffydil and how some of our med students are involved.