Is Canada Ready for Nationwide Collaboration on Medical School Admissions Practices and Policies?

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Abstract

The report by the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC) entitled “The Future of Medical Education in Canada: A Collective Vision for MD Education” includes recommendations to enhance admissions processes and increase national collaboration. To achieve these goals, the AFMC conducted a nationwide environmental scan appraising medical schools’ readiness for national collaboration and progress toward establishing “made-in-Canada” admissions processes. A critical narrative review of the academic and gray literature was conducted as part of this environmental scan. Four core admissions practice and policy domains were identified: (1) social accountability strategies, (2) standardized admissions testing, (3) interviewing procedures, and (4) application procedures.

In this article, the authors summarize and discuss the findings of this narrative review with regard to the four domains. They provide documentation of historical and present-day admissions factors relevant to Canadian medical schools’ readiness for nationwide collaboration and a descriptive analysis of the facilitators and barriers to establishing “made-in-Canada” admissions processes.

All four domains had facilitators and barriers. One barrier, however, cut across multiple domains—medical schools’ pursuit of prestige and its potential to conflict with the goals of the other domains. The authors recommend holding a national forum to debate these issues and to advance the AFMC’s goals, a process that will not be straightforward. Yet, national collaboration holds promise for applicants, medical schools, and Canada’s diverse population of patients, so efforts toward this end must continue.

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