Some will say this is highly innovative. Some will say, it’s re-inventing the wheel from the 50’s and 60’s. And some would say, we are just copying what is currently being done in Europe and Asia. Be that as it may, this week we launch an official new educational initiative at Queen’s to look for and accept ten exceptional high school students from across Canada, who wish to pursue a career in medicine. These students, who will come from a pool of nominees for a Queen’s Chancellor Scholarship, once accepted, will do two years in undergraduate studies in the arts, sciences, or computing, prior to taking up a spot in medical school two years later. In addition to their degree-related curriculum, QuARMS students will be exposed to learning experiences that are closely aligned with the core competencies for physicians. These experiential learning opportunities will hone the students’ skills in advocacy, communication, collaboration, and professionalism.
This new educational initiative is consistent with a major pillar of our strategic plan. That pillar indicates we will focus on new models of training and practice. It currently takes 12-16 years to develop a specialist in Canada. Many have argued that this grueling training program is too long, and we can develop a more streamlined approach. One way to do this, of course, is to start the process earlier. Currently the average time spent in undergraduate/graduate education prior to medical school is about 5 years. Not that shaving off 3 years is best for all prospective doctors, but for a subset, it may well be appropriate.
Queen’s will be the first school in the country to develop this kind of educational strategy. It has been the product hard work of many people, but especially, our current and former Associate Deans of Life Sciences and Biochemistry Michael Kawaja and Ken Rose, our Interim Registrar Teresa Alm, our Associate Dean Undergraduate Tony Sanfilippo, the Associate Dean (Studies) Arts and Science Hugh Horton, and our Director of Admissions, Hugh MacDonald.
I know that there will be a lot of questions, and even though “my door is always open” we have tried to develop materials on the Queen’s web site to address most inquiries.1,2
Nonetheless, if you have comments on this program, respond to the blog, or better yet, please drop by the Macklem House, my door is always open.
* QuARMS is an acronym for Queen’s University Accelerated Route to Medical School