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Canadian Federation of
Medical Students
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About the CFMS
The CFMS is an organization representing over 8,000 medical students from 15 Canadian medical student societies from coast to coast. We represent medical students to the public, to the federal government, and to national and international medical organizations.
Member Memo #5: COVID-19 Effects on Medical Education and CFMS Operations
April 09, 2020

Dear Students,

We hope you and your families are keeping well. This week we have New updates in all our sections including MCC exam, clerkship and electives!

We also have a new COVID-19 updates webpage here. We have started to compile a list of involvement opportunities and initiatives students are participating in!

CFMS COVID-19 Community Care Initiative Grants Due April 3rd at 11:59 PM EST

The CFMS is excited to announce that we have up to $10 000 available for our MedSocs to apply to in order to support your community care initiatives to support Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic response. We have been so impressed and inspired by your work and leadership during this time. Initiatives can request up to $1000 in funding support. The deadline to submit these will be Friday April 3rd at 11:59 PM EST and decisions will be communicated by April 6th. Ideally each MedSoc will submit an overarching application for their work. The application form is attached here.

Congratulations and thank you to everyone for your amazing contributions; whether it is PPE collection, contact tracing, supporting healthcare workers and more. Your actions don’t go unnoticed and you are making a huge difference.

MCCQE I Exam/Final Year Students

Last week we highlighted information from FMRAC (Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada) which noted that final year medical students who do not complete the MCCQE I before July 1 can still obtain an educational license to start residency.

We have continued to receive questions from students regarding whether not having written and passed the MCCQE I would affect their ability to perform all duties expected in residency (i.e. prescribing privileges). No provincial/territorial jurisdiction in Canada at this time places any additional restrictions on PGY- 1’s who have not yet successfully completed their MCCQE I. If we do not complete the MCCQE I before residency we would be able to practice with the full scope that any other PGY-1 would have in other years. Currently provincial regulatory colleges require you to have completed both MCCQE I and II prior to obtaining a staff physician license.

We continue to have weekly meetings with MCC leadership. The MCC has communicated that they are operating with the goal of having final year medical students write their MCC exam prior to the start of residency. At this time they are unable to provide dates for the writing period as the Prometric sites remain closed till at least May 1st. As we have previously noted they will give at least 4 weeks notice prior to the start of the exam writing period and they will also be extending the window for writing the exam to accommodate the fact that schedules will be difficult to navigate approaching and during residency. This week the MCC also noted they have begun considering alternative options for exam delivery. There is no guarantee that we will be able to write the exams prior to July. We appreciate that the lack of definitive dates is frustrating. While many of you who had travel plans will have had them disrupted, a true break before residency is important for our overall health and wellbeing as well.

We are also communicating with the AFMC and postgraduate deans nationally to ensure that final year students receive ongoing information during your transition to residency. This is an uncertain time and we want to ensure you will be fully supported as you start the next part of your medical training.

Second Iteration R1 2020 Match:

Rank lists for the second iteration were due April 2nd at 15:00 EST. We continue to have a number of supports for students who have entered the second iteration of the 2020 R1 match which are listed here. We have extended the deadline for submitting the reimbursement form to receive $150 to support costs for the second iteration to April 30th. You can access the form at the above link.

Clerkship/Home School Electives:

This week discussions amongst the UGME deans have focused more on guiding principles that will decide when students will return to clinical duties. Over the last week most schools have communicated a potential set of return dates to students. There are a wide range of dates that have been presented, ranging from early May to the start of July. While UGME deans continue to strive towards having students return to clinical duties in a coordinated fashion, there is recognition that with the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, some schools may be able to return earlier than others. The principles for return to clerkship we have begun outlining includes principles the CFMS has been advocating for since the beginning; ensuring learners are safe and minimizing their infection risk, that there are adequate supplies of PPE and tests available, that learners can be safely supervised and provided clinical teaching on the rotations and that learners are able to effectively contribute to the clinical environment through skill-appropriate tasks, among other considerations. We have begun tackling the concept of what clerkship will look like when students return. How may we adjust the length of core rotations? How much elective time should students get in a condensed clerkship? These and many more questions are the focus of our current discussions.

A common question is what schools are doing with “home/internal” electives for their own students. Currently there is variation as to whether schools have cancelled home electives or are allowing students to book them in advance/keep currently confirmed electives. Given the uncertainty of when clerkship will re- start a more uniform approach may be adopted in the future.

We have begun more concerted discussions on potential changes to the 2021 R1 Match timelines. There are a number of committee meetings in the coming weeks to come to a national consensus on this. The CFMS represents students at all of these committees. We know that there will need to be adjustments to application expectations and more broadly how the R1 match is run with the disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic and we will keep you updated on developments.

Visiting Electives/AFMC electives portal:

The AFMC portal has an updated FAQ section here. Students who had confirmed visiting electives will be contacted by the host school regarding cancellation and refunds. Each school may have a different period that electives are currently cancelled for. At this time the electives portal is not accepting any new applications. Even after students in 2021 return to clerkship, it may be several weeks or months before visiting electives opportunities are re-opened. The goal amongst the UGME deans is for the portal to open at the same time for all schools even if students return to clinical rotations at different times. Some of you have asked whether it is possible that visiting electives may not happen for the remainder of the 2021 cycle. No decision has been made but given the unprecedented times, all options are on the table. We are aware of the potential implications of decisions like this. For example not all medical schools are able to offer elective experiences in all 30 entry routes to residency, thus potentially disadvantaging students if visiting electives were not accommodated. These factors are actively being considered in our discussions.


We are continuing to collect information on best practices from each school as faculties move education to an online/virtual format. We have received a number of questions about what schools across the country have been doing with respect to exams. All schools have adopted some type of online distance-proctoring format to administer exams (i.e. write on your own computer with software that locks your computer). Each school has some variation in policies of whether exams will continue to be summative vs. formative. This is a “learning experience” for most schools and you can expect processes will improve and be further streamlined.

Students in the class of 2022 may be starting to wonder how these ongoing changes may affect the start of your clerkship. This is actively being considered in national discussions.

CFMS Spring General Meeting and Elections:

We have confirmed that the CFMS SGM will take place virtually on April 18th and 19th. We will be using Zoom and will be able to accommodate up to 300 participants! Details on registrations has been forwarded to the Presidents and Representatives Roundtable and each MedSoc will be responsible for registering their delegation. An updated agenda and details on the elections have been uploaded to our website here. We will be recording some of the meeting sessions so they can be posted on our website after. Please consider running for one of the available board positions! Now more than ever, your involvement in medical education governance will be very important and impactful.

Wellness and Financial Resources

This is a stressful time for many of us. In collaboration with our member schools we have this spreadsheet of wellness resources. We want to remind everyone to stay connected socially during this period of critical physical distancing. Check out our social media @CFMSFEMC for contests to keep you engaged.

Let’s also make sure to remember to thank and celebrate all the healthcare providers doing amazing work. We have a new campaign to recognize the amazing physician leaders and preceptors that have helped us as medical students. Please nominate your favourites here

Our VP Finance Anson Lee, also put together a document outlining financial implications of COVID-19 that apply to medical students that you might want to check out here

Final Thoughts

We will continue to have these member memos every 1 to 2 weeks. We endeavour to keep you informed of our work and supplement information you should be receiving from your faculties. Thank you everyone for continuing to provide feedback to me on all of these issues. Your engagement helps keep us going!

As always if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected]


Victor Do

CFMS President, 2019-2020

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