Even with the best intentions, a plan to apply to medical school won’t always go as you expected. Problems involving health, family or simply a series of unfortunate events can force you to readjust your initial plan towards medicine and temporarily settle for a well-advised plan B. This plan will depend on which category of applicant you are, and what your ultimate goal is.
Suppose that, despite carefully tailoring your profile to maximize your chances of admission to McGill Med-P and other Quebec medical schools, you are directly rejected from all of them, or fail to get off the waitlist at any. There is no reason to worry, as most people in North America don’t have the opportunity to attend med school almost immediately after high school, and an undergraduate education is not to be dreaded. However, make no mistake: admission to medical school from CEGEP is the norm, not the exception in Quebec, and you will surely not be at an advantage when applying from the university category.
Choice of program
If your R-Score is higher than 35.5-36 and you can speak French, you should consider taking a year off to work on your interview skills and reapply to French universities the following year. This is because unlike McGill Med-P, French medical schools do not keep track of the time since you’ve graduated from CEGEP, and will consider you as a CEGEP applicant even after a gap year (or even several, in theory). With such an R-Score, you are guaranteed to get an interview and can focus on improving that part of your application, since you must have scored a subpar MEMFI score to be rejected. Additionally, there is a very significant chance that your CRU (the equivalent of an R-Score which takes into account university grades) would actually be lower than your CRC (CEGEP R-Score), thus lowering your chances of admission if you were to enroll in university courses. Furthermore, the general consensus is that getting in as a collegiate applicant is easier than as an university applicant, so this would be the ideal pathway.
A sidenote: following the same logic, since UdeM/UdeS/ULaval don’t have any restrictions on the amount of time allowed before applying (unlike McGill), you could even take less classes per semester during CEGEP and finish your DEC in more than 2 years without penalty. In our experience, however, few successful applicants have felt the need to do this.
If your R-Score is lower than 35 or you can’t take a year off, pursuing an undergraduate program such as physiotherapy, ergotherapy (occupational therapy) or biomedical sciences at a French university will boost your CRU. The GPA to R-Score conversion for ULaval can be found here, and UdeM’s is similar, where:
Therefore, going to a program such as McGill Bioengineering will actually decrease your chances of getting into a French medical school, most likely eliminating the option as credits accumulate. Aside from the group strength which lowers the CRU as measured by French universities, all McGill programs are graded on a 4.0 (A) scale as opposed to a 4.33 (A+) scale at French universities. Although conversions schemes vary, a McGill GPA could be converted numerically (4.0/4.0 = 4.0/4.33) in the worst case, which would be brutally throwing away your work. Some universities seem to scale it, but never to the extent that a 4.0 at McGill will equal a 4.33 when applying to French universities. This problem wouldn’t exist at Concordia, which also uses a 4.33 scale; however, it doesn’t offer any of those high-CRU programs.
If you don’t plan on applying for a French medical school and/or struggle with French, going to a program at McGill or Concordia with a high GPA average would be the ideal pathway to take, regardless of the actual program.
Choice of university
The choice of university depends on the medical school to which you want to apply:
- Only UdeM students can apply to UdeM’s program anytime during their bachelor’s degree.
- Students from all universities can apply to UdeS at all stages. You are considered a collegiate applicant until you complete 45 credits. Since it is easier to get in as a collegiate than an university applicant, you may consider taking one less class in your second year in order to apply as a collegiate rather than a university student, since you will have less than 45 credits.
- Only ULaval students can apply to ULaval’s program starting from their second year (after 45 credits).
- You can apply to any university in Canada or in the United States after completing your bachelor’s degree, provided that you complete premedical course requirements.
If you’ve already completed your bachelor’s degree, the choices available to you are much wider.
You should apply to any medical school you would be willing to go to, including those outside of Quebec. Those, however, will require you to write the MCAT and/or CASPer, depending on the university. Note that this will also include a large financial cost, due to the accumulation of test fees, application fees, traveling fees (for interviews), etc.
Provided you are willing to pay a large amount for tuition, you can also apply for an M.D. or D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, an equivalent medical degree offered in the US only). The D.O. degree also generally has a lower academic requirement than the M.D. (3.4-3.5 instead of 3.8-3.9 GPA). Applying in the U.S., however, also comes with other requirements such as the MCAT.
You can also consider doing a second bachelor’s degree. McGill only considers the GPA from your second degree. ULaval takes your best grade in each class if you take it twice, while UdeM/UdeS average the GPA between your two degrees. Another alternative is to pursue a master’s degree, for which ULaval and UdeS grant a CRU bonus upon completion (0.5 for ULaval, 1.0 for UdeS). However, pursuing a master’s degree strictly for the bonus wouldn’t be recommended, as your master’s GPA does not count towards your CRU, and a CRU higher than the one bonified by a master’s degree could probably be attained by doing a second bachelor’s degree.
Target your weaknesses
Every time you don’t manage to get into medical school, you are adding at least one more year to an already lengthy education. It is therefore crucial that you pinpoint what your weaknesses are and target them every year (grades/extracurricular activities/interview), in order to maximize your chances for the future rather than repeating the same mistakes.
There are other similar professions that are similar, and in some aspects better than medicine. Depending on who you are, you may also consider applying for dentistry, pharmacy or law.
What we haven’t covered
Due to their personalized nature, some key points related to this article would be best discussed in a one-on-one meeting with you. Those parts include:
- Which weaknesses in your application you should target, and how to target them;
- Evaluation of your interviewing skills, and demonstrating how you can improve them;
- How to craft compelling CVPNs, helping your McGill Medicine application.