By Julia Belluz - Friday, November 2, 2012 - 0 Comments
In Canada, pharmaceuticals are one of the fastest-growing cost drivers in our health system. And we are gobbling up prescription drugs with increasing enthusiasm. Between 1997 and 2007, Canadians were second only to Americans when it came to increases in per capita drug spending.
Yet the data we collect from clinical trials about the drugs we take remains largely hidden from view: it’s not available for examination by independent researchers, and the information about drugs that is published tends to be positive, an unrepresentative sliver of all that’s known. As the editor of the British Medical Journal and other doctors around the world have pointed out, this means patients, doctors and governments can’t make fully informed decisions about treatments.
This is a problem that affects anyone who uses pharmaceuticals — or their loved ones who do. Because of this situation, jurisdictions around the world have been working to make the clinical trials process, the testing of drugs, more open and transparent.
Yet Canada lags here. As Science-ish noted in an open letter to the Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, and subsequently, letters from researchers, the recent announcement about the government’s intention to create “a web-based list” of clinical trials for Canadian patients seems to reflect what was known about this issue over a decade ago, and ignores the evidence that’s been gathered since then.
By Josh Dehaas - Friday, September 7, 2012 at 2:40 PM - 0 Comments
Our much-anticipated Law School Rankings plus what’s hot in engineering, medicine, M.B.A.s and more.
Our much-anticipated Law School Rankings plus what’s hot in engineering, medicine, M.B.A.s and more. It’s all inside the Maclean’s Professional Schools Issue, on newsstands and iPad now. You’ll get:
- The engineering field so hot that companies are taking students on all-expenses-paid trips
- Charlie Gillis on the question: Should articling be scrapped?
- How students are financing their degrees
- Rebranding the M.B.A
- …and much more.
By Blog of Lists - Thursday, August 30, 2012 at 1:24 PM - 0 Comments
American pundits, publications and politicians have been kind enough to warn us that our socialized health care system is the filthiest, most evil and dangerous system on the planet.
1. “Dear Canadian: You make socialized medicine sound ideal. But whenever private enterprise is replaced by a government institution, incentive is thwarted and the quality of services usually deteriorates.”
—Dear Abby, April 25, 1977
2. “To receive major health care in two weeks would be only a dream for most Canadians.” —Susan Riggs,
Knight-Ridder, June 22, 1994
3. “People come here from every country . . . including Canadians fleeing from the substandard quality, cruel rationing and long waiting lists of their ‘free’ socialized medicine.”
—Paul Craig Roberts, Scripps Howard News Service, June 23, 1994
4. “Did the fact that Canada has a socialist, government-run health care system—similar to the kind that President Obama wants to ram down the throats of Americans—kill acclaimed actress Natasha Richardson?”
—Matthew Vadum, The American Spectator, March 21, 2009
5. “Canada’s disastrous health care system survives because of . . . the widespread fear that any reform might constitute ‘Americanization.’ ”
—Jonah Goldberg, National Review, Nov. 25, 2002
6. “For cardiac bypass surgery, patients in Ontario are told they may have to wait six months for a surgery that Americans can often get right away.”
—Sen. Mitch McConnell, June 8, 2009
7. “Canada needs to reform its health care system and let the private sector take over some of what the government has absorbed.”
—Sarah Palin, This Hour Has 22 Minutes, November 25, 2009
8. “In Canada,they have a lottery. They have a lottery system. Who gets to go see a doctor this month in Canada?”
—Glenn Beck, The Glenn Beck Program, July 15, 2009
9. “Is government-run health care in Canada taking away parents’ rights?”
Fox & Friends, February 23, 2011
Have you ever wondered which cities have the most bars, smokers, absentee workers and people searching for love? What about how Canada compares to the world in terms of the size of its military, the size of our houses and the number of cars we own? The answers to all those questions, and many more, can be found in the first ever Maclean’s Book of Lists.
Buy your copy of the Maclean’s Book of Lists at the newsstand or order online now.
By Kate Lunau - Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 10:23 AM - 0 Comments
Side effects from cancer treatment could be greatly minimized if we can harness tiny particles
About 186,400 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer this year, according to the Canadian Cancer Society. Despite these numbers, “every cancer is essentially a rare disease, as you get down deep in the genetic profile,” says Pieter Cullis, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of British Columbia. He and others are working toward a future when individual patients will receive a drug therapy tailored precisely to them—delivered in tiny nanoparticles that reach right down into the cancer site.
Most cancer drugs permeate a patient’s entire body. “Only one per cent goes where it’s supposed to,” Cullis says, and the other 99 per cent can cause harmful side effects. He has developed a way to package drug molecules inside nanoparticles “one-hundredth the size of a typical cell” and made of lipids, the same material that makes up the membrane around each cell in our bodies.
These nanoparticles are designed to circulate through the system, eventually passing through the tumour. Because blood vessels at this site are newer, they’re a bit “leakier” than elsewhere in the body, Cullis says, so nanoparticles tend to accumulate there, and then release their entrapped drug molecules. “If we can get even five per cent [of the drug] to the tumour, we’ll see big benefits” and fewer unnecessary side effects, he says.
By Anne Kingston - Monday, April 30, 2012 at 11:01 AM - 0 Comments
New research on pain, medical devices and even PMS reveals big holes in our knowledge of the female body.
In 2004, Barbara Colbourn began experiencing pain in her legs when walking. The 61-year-old London, Ont., office manager tried to ignore the discomfort at first. Six months later, she went to her doctor, who diagnosed peripheral artery disease, or PAD. Colbourn had never heard of it—and was shocked to learn it was a chronic disease caused by atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, of the legs, feet or arms that puts people at higher risk of stroke, heart attack and death. When she was asked to participate in a 24-week international treatment trial organized by London clinical trials nurse Marge Lovell, a PAD awareness advocate, she agreed. Like many women over 60, Colbourn’s health concerns were fixated on breast cancer and heart disease. “Hardening of the arteries was something my grandma had,” she says.
Now 69, Colbourn takes baby aspirin and a cholesterol-lowering drug and exercises daily to prevent the disease’s progression and stave off invasive surgery. There were warning signs she ignored, she says. She had to give up curling in her 50s because her feet were always cold. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think it could be serious.” Just how serious was made clear in a study in the January 2012 American Heart Association journal Circulation: it called PAD an unsung “pandemic” that afflicts more women than men, contrary to previous assumptions. Research in women has lagged behind, says cardiologist Alan Hirsch, a professor at the University of Minnesota medical school who chaired the study. Just as heart disease manifests itself differently in women, so does PAD, says Hirsch, whose study revealed that women with PAD, which afflicts some 800,000 Canadians, are more likely than men to have a limb amputated.
Diagnosed by a simple test that compares arm blood pressure to leg blood pressure, PAD is the “most common, deadly and costly cardiovascular disease that the public hasn’t heard of,” says Hirsch; in 90 per cent of cases, it’s asymptomatic. That so few women have heard of PAD doesn’t surprise Hirsch, who says women have been routinely overlooked in vascular research: “It is embarrassing how many hypertension, lipid studies, and stent trials were done with low [female] enrolment. Every vascular disease I know of except aortic aneurysm is more common in women—venous diseases, lymphedema, PAD—yet we don’t know why and we don’t talk about it.”
By Michael Petrou - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
The War Museum’s new exhibit on medicine blends history, emotion and gore
One of the first images confronted by a visitor to the Canadian War Museum’s War and Medicine exhibit is a photograph of a young American veteran of the Iraq war, shirtless, his back to the camera while his mother, a woman with grey hair and large eyes, embraces him. About one-third of the soldier’s head is missing. “There’s this mother who’s going to be caring for her son, who’s in his late 20s, for the rest of her life,” says Tim Cook, co-curator of the exhibition. “This show is not just about battlefield trauma. It’s about the long-lasting impact of war. It’s about hurting and healing and caring.”
A balanced mix of emotion and material history, the show was developed by the Wellcome Collection in London, England, and the Deutsches Hygiene Museum in Dresden, Germany. But Cook and fellow curator Andrew Burtch have adapted it by adding 150 images and artifacts, some from the museum’s permanent collection, others unique and unlikely to have been widely seen before. There’s a ceramic pot for holding leeches—once widely used to “bleed” infected patients—from the Museum of Health Care in Kingston, Ont.; a small display on Norman Bethune, the Canadian doctor who pioneered mobile blood transfusion during the Spanish Civil War and died a hero in China; and a handwritten copy of the poem “In Flanders Fields,” sent by its author, Canadian doctor and soldier John McCrae, to an American friend. The letter is normally housed at McGill University’s Osler Library of the History of Medicine.
Other items are more gruesome. A section of the show titled “The Body” demonstrates the physical damage caused by war and its attendant diseases. There are models of blown-apart faces and syphilitic genitals, as well as other body parts: a punctured skull, a brain traversed by a bullet, a leg bone riddled with holes created when pus from an infection tried to force its way through. “We haven’t pulled any punches. This is the stuff of war,” says Cook.
By Anne Kingston - Thursday, July 7, 2011 at 11:00 AM - 20 Comments
New studies are showing that placebos are often prescribed to unknowing patients—and that they work
In Western medicine, placebos have long been the bridesmaids, never the bride. That’s not surprising: they’re sham pills or simulated medical interventions, seen as handmaidens for use in clinical trials rather than the real thing. Their influence, known as the “placebo effect,” is understood to be a perceived (and not necessarily real or measurable) improvement in a medical condition. Now a spate of new studies trumpeting placebos’ efficacy and their prevalence in mainstream medical treatment is dramatically shifting that perception.
In March, a study by the German Medical Association, or BÄK, revealed half of German doctors prescribe placebos—including vitamin pills and homeopathic remedies—and that they were effective treating minor maladies such as an upset stomach. (A study from Erasmus University in the Netherlands in May found placebos effectively treated migraines in 36 per cent of participants.)
“Placebos have a stronger impact and are more complex than we realized,” said Christopher Fuchs, the managing director of the BÄK, when the study was released. “They are hugely important in medicine today.” The following month, a McGill University survey triggered shock ripples with its revelation that 20 per cent of Canadian medical school doctors prescribed placebos to unknowing patients and that more than 35 per cent of psychiatrists prescribed medications in “subtherapeutic” doses, or below the minimal recommended therapeutic level. A glimpse into why that is the case can be found in The Emperor’s New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth, a new book by British psychologist Irving Kirsch, who embarked on a 15-year scientific quest that examined all 42 FDA reviews of the six most widely used antidepressant drugs; he discovered placebos to be 82 per cent as effective.
By Kate Lunau - Thursday, December 2, 2010 at 1:40 PM - 5 Comments
England and Australia methodically track artificial joints. The U.S. is launching a registry. And Canada?
On the evening of Aug. 27, Lincoln Bryant, a Presbyterian minister in Kingston, Ont., was watching the news. A report came on that left him stunned: DePuy Orthopaedics Inc., a U.S. company, had announced a global recall of two implants used in hip replacement surgery. Bryant, 53, suffers from hip dysplasia, an instability in the joint. In January 2008, after years of managing the pain, he had hip resurfacing surgery, a type of hip replacement that preserves more bone. Since then, the pain has gotten worse; he can’t be on his feet more than a few hours at a time. “I didn’t know what I had in my body,” he says, but he suspected it might be a DePuy implant.
The next day, feeling increasingly worried, he phoned his surgeon, but was unable to reach him, playing phone tag with a secretary for a few days. (Kingston General Hospital, where Bryant says he had the surgery done, couldn’t confirm details of his story for privacy reasons.) His situation was complicated: unrelated to the recall, in January he’d filed a complaint against his surgeon with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO), which regulates doctors in the province, and was awaiting his hearing.
By Julia Belluz - Wednesday, October 20, 2010 at 3:40 PM - 0 Comments
Combining foods and pharmaceuticals is a booming business riddled with controversial claims
How many hopeful consumers have gulped down sweet beverages like POM Wonderful or Vitaminwater believing they weren’t just quenching their thirst but taking a dose of medicine?
Enough to turn the nutrient-enhanced food and beverage industry into a multi-billion-dollar business. And despite a growing controversy over the claims of certain health foods, there’s no sign the market is slowing. Last week, the global food giant Nestlé SA announced that it’s betting US$510 million on the fact that people will continue to indulge in “pharma foods.” Over the next decade, it plans to invest in a health science business that will create products to treat obesity and a range of chronic ailments, from diabetes to cardiovascular disease.
By Jonathon Gatehouse - Thursday, October 14, 2010 at 4:00 PM - 0 Comments
A Harvard-trained M.D. talks about going ‘crazy’ and the struggle to stay sane
When Mark Vonnegut sat on the Harvard Medical School admissions committee, he used to ask the congenital overachievers who came before him a simple question: what is being a doctor going to do for you? Conditioned to talk about saving lives, advancing science, or just making the world a better place, the candidates frequently struggled to articulate what the more selfish gains from their chosen profession might be. But after more than three decades of practice as a Boston pediatrician, Vonnegut has a ready response when the query is turned back on him—stability. “Being a doctor has been enormously grounding,” he says.
“Having to go to work and deal with a rash or a 102-degree fever snaps me out of my own head. It allows me to be in the world in a useful way.”
Maintaining a daily presence in the here and now is no trifling concern for the 63-year-old son of the late author Kurt Vonnegut. In 1971, at the age of 23, he suffered three major mental breakdowns while living on a hippie commune in British Columbia. Diagnosed a schizophrenic, he found himself locked in a Vancouver psychiatric hospital while he conversed with Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain and Fyodor Dostoevsky, painted with Van Gogh, and played sax with John Coltrane. Four years, and much medication later, he wrote The Eden Express: A Memoir of Insanity.
By Cameron Ainsworth-Vincze - Thursday, October 14, 2010 at 2:00 PM - 0 Comments
Free trade with the EU could hurt the sick and ailing in the Third World
India’s dream of becoming an economic powerhouse will take a giant leap forward later this year with the scheduled signing of a bilateral free trade agreement with the European Union. The goal of the agreement is to triple the existing $74-billion trade flow between the two regions over the course of the next five years. Yet one outstanding issue is drawing considerable backlash, at home and abroad.
The agreement, according to a new study in the Journal of the International AIDS Society, could significantly harm India’s generic drug industry, which supplies 80 per cent of the cheap, anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) that are sold to low- and middle-income countries. The study, which contains data from more than 17,000 donor-funded purchases of ARVs by 115 countries, suggests that negotiations between India and the EU have included measures that could delay, or in some cases restrict, generic medicines from reaching certain regions due to product patent restrictions, data requirements and tighter border rules. Such a move could significantly increase the cost of India’s ARVs, in addition to limiting dosage availability and delaying access to newer and more advanced drugs, the study argued.
By Dan Hill - Thursday, October 14, 2010 at 10:40 AM - 0 Comments
Dan Hill on the craziness of families, fame—and therapists
“Before we can get properly started, there’s something I really need to disclose.” This was my new therapist’s opening gambit in 1999. I leaned back, enjoying the role reversal: the shrink unloading a bombshell on his patient.
“Sure, doctor. What’s up?”
Dr. Tony (not his real name) breathed in dramatically and rolled his leather chair closer.“I’m extremely attracted to your wife,” he confessed, the words tumbling out in one fevered exhalation. “She’s the classiest, most charismatic woman I’ve come across in all my years as a therapist.”
At 53, Dr. Tony was seven years my senior, and appeared vaguely athletic, not unlike an ex-NHLer who’d downed a few too many beers. Exuding a jousting alpha-male presence that verged on self-parody, he was hardly a threat to my marriage. Still, the doctor’s confession left me discombobulated.
By Kate Lunau - Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
Researchers are working on a more individual approach to each tumour
This summer, Vancouver cancer researchers announced a medical first. Presented with an extremely rare case of tongue cancer—it was so unusual there were no standard treatments to use—they sequenced the DNA of the patient’s tumour, and discovered similarities with another cancer (renal cell carcinoma, a type of kidney cancer) for which there’s a known therapy. The patient received drugs tailored to these results, and the cancer stopped growing for several months. Steven Jones, a molecular biologist with the B.C. Cancer Agency Genome Sciences Centre and one of two lead researchers on the study, calls it a breakthrough. It isn’t standard in hospitals to genetically sequence a patient’s tumour, but “the goal would be, maybe in 10 years, this would be routine,” he says.
Dr. Leif Ellisen, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, is working to bring tumour genotyping from the lab into the clinic. He and a team have designed a system that can screen relatively large numbers of patients for a variety of mutations across different cancer genes. These genetic mutations are a tumour’s “Achilles’ heel,” noted a recent editorial in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine. “Every tumour has a flaw,” says Ellisen, who’ll be discussing his work as part of the Scienta Health Series in Toronto on Oct. 7, and his goal is to find it.
It’s the mantra of a growing number of researchers, who tout personalized medicine—treatments tailored to each individual—as the future of cancer care. Traditionally, cancer treatment “has been one-size-fits all,” Ellisen says. “If it’s breast cancer, you treat it one way; if it’s lung cancer, you treat it another.” The downside is that costly drugs are administered to patients, sometimes with harmful side effects and no real promise they’ll work. “The treatment needs to be tailored to the individual characteristics of the patient and, we’re learning now, the characteristics of the tumour,” he says. Cancers are typically classified by the organs where they arise, but it’s possible that a breast cancer and a lung cancer, for example, might share a genetic abnormality. As a result, they might even respond to the same treatment.
By Kate Lunau - Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 2:00 PM - 0 Comments
Frogs evolved to fight off microbes. They may also provide us with the next class of antibiotics.
In his lab at United Arab Emirates University in Al-Ain, John Michael Conlon collects the secretions that ooze out of frog skins. Over the past 12 years, he’s collected hundreds of samples from frogs all around the world (the one Canadian frog in his collection is the wood frog). Conlon’s hoping to find an antibiotic that could fight off powerful “superbugs,” bacteria that our current drugs can’t beat. Frogs have spent millions of years evolving to fight off microbes, he explains: they live in a moist, warm environment, “an ideal place for the growth of bacteria and fungi.” After analyzing just 200 secretions, Conlon’s team has found over 100 antimicrobial substances.
With drug-resistant bacteria on the rise, they can’t work fast enough. Last month, The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal published a study showing that NDM-1, a gene that makes bacteria impervious to some of our strongest antibiotics and can jump from one bacterial strain to another, has the potential to become a global health problem. Thought to have originated in India, NDM-1 positive bacteria has already turned up in several countries, including Canada. Other superbugs, like MRSA (a staph bacteria that resists the methicillin antibiotic), are also a growing concern. “I’m English, and English people tend to deal in understatements, not exaggerations,” Conlon says dryly. “This situation really is serious.”
By macleans.ca - Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 10:05 AM - 0 Comments
The father of the medical internship goes up against the inventor of the telephone
Sir William Osler
Why he’s famous: Osler introduced the concepts of clerkship and residency in medicine, forcing doctors to gain years of hands-on experience before graduating to their own practices. “If you listen carefully to the patient,” he often said, “they will tell you the diagnosis.”
Why he deserves to win: By moving students from the lecture hall to the patient’s bedside, Osler revolutionized the teaching of medicine, making it more patient-focused. Osler also went to great lengths to make the profession less stuffy. Writing under a pseudonym, he once penned an article in thePhiladelphia Medical News describing the condition “penis captivus,” in which the vaginal muscles clamp down harder than usual during intercourse. Osler was, in other words, a Victorian-age Dr. House.
Alexander Graham Bell
Why he’s famous: He invented the telephone. Duh.
Why he deserves to win: He also invented the metal detector, created an alphabet for the Mohawk language, contributed significantly to aeronautics, and was a founder of the National Geographic Society. A natural inventor, Bell created his first invention at age 12, a de-husking machine that he used to make his part-time flour-milling job easier. But really, what would the last 135 years be like without phones?
By macleans.ca - Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 10:05 AM - 0 Comments
A battlefield doctor goes head to head with a peacekeeper
Why he’s famous: Bethune revolutionized battlefield medicine.
Why he deserves to win: During the Spanish Civil War in 1936, Bethune invented a mobile blood transfusion service which could collect blood from donors and deliver it wherever it was needed. His “mobile blood bank” is considered the greatest medical innovation from the war. Later, Bethune would take his battlefield medicine expertise to China, where he became the Red Army’s Medical Chief and taught his techniques to new doctors and nurses. Think of Bethune as the Canadian Florence Nightingale.
Lester B. Pearson
Why he’s famous: Putting the peacekeeping bug in the UN’s ear, though the blue helmets were somebody else’s idea.
Why he deserves to win: Pearson was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1957 for his role in establishing an international police force aimed at quelling lingering tensions from the previous year’s Suez Crisis. In doing so, Pearson effectively created the concept of peacekeeping, not only transforming the UN’s raison d’être, but also altering Canada’s role on the world stage. The former Canadian prime minister didn’t quite get soldiers to make love, but he showed they were good at making things other than war.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 9:10 AM - 0 Comments
EXCLUSIVE RANKINGS. Plus: where to go, how to get in, the hottest programs, and the biggest pitfalls
Coast to coast, getting into professional schools has never been more competitive than it is this year
By Carson Jerema - Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 4 Comments
Getting a C in chemistry may not be a barrier to that white coat, as med schools reassess their admissions
If you ever wanted to be a doctor, but were scared off because of all the science you would have to learn, you may soon be in luck. Canadian medical schools are taking a closer look at their admissions practices, and prerequisites like the much-feared Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) are no longer seen to be as imperative as they once were.
Just how picky medical schools should be about students being well-versed in the scientific foundations of human anatomy is a decades-old debate. But now, lacking a solid grasp of science might not be a barrier to getting that white coat.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
First-year tuition for academic year 2010-2011
Gaining acceptance to medical school is the first hurdle. The next challenge is paying for it. The figures listed below show first-year tuition for academic year 2010-2011.
Tuition Canadian Students Tuition International Other Compulsory Fees Alberta $11,714 N/A $1,043 UBC $15,457 N/A $208-$865 Calgary $14,600 N/A $793 Dalhousie $13,818 $21,078 $908 Laval $3,240/$8,879 $25,317 $714 Manitoba $7,499 N/A $984 McGill $4,825/$13,224 $37,705 $2,553 McMaster $20,831 $108,546 $737 Memorial $6,250 $30,000 $1,140 Montréal $3,102/$8,501 $24,239 $1,355 Ottawa $18,117 N/A $902 Northern Ontario $17,200 N/A $1,750-$2,050 Queen’s $18,228 N/A $912 Saskatchewan $12,276 N/A $697 Sherbrooke $3,170*/$9,494 $25,582 $1,081 Toronto $18,424 $51,051 $1,509 Western $17,722 N/A $973
Two Canadian tuition figures are listed for schools in Quebec: the first applies for residents of Quebec; the higher figure is charged for students from outside the province. *Tuition for residents of Quebec or New Brunswick.
By Josh Dehaas - Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
Getting into into med school abroad may be easier, but it’s tough to come back
Amie Dmytryshyn did everything right. She volunteered to counsel patients at Vancouver General Hospital on Thursday nights. She spent three days a week assisting a quadriplegic teenager. On weekends, she attended intensive all-day MCAT prep and on weeknights she squeezed in two extra hours of studying to prepare for the exam. She did it all while maintaining an A average in her chemistry-heavy human kinetics program at UBC. “Then I got one letter and my dreams were crushed,” says Dmytryshyn, now 30.
Erik Vakil, 28, was so determined to get in that after being rejected from a dozen programs in 2006, he marched straight back to Dalhousie and retook every class in which he didn’t have an A. The following January, he was rejected again. “It was only after the second rejection that I realized I wasn’t going to get in,” says Vakil. A friend suggested he try Ireland. He stayed up late that same night to finish his application. Weeks later, he was called for an interview with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI).
By macleans.ca - Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
Plus, average GPA and test scores and which schools require the MCAT
Gaining admission to medical school is a competitive process. In the table below, Success Rate indicates the percentage of applicants who received at least one offer of admission. Note that success rates for in-province applicants are generally higher than for out-of-province, because most medical schools reserve nearly all of their seats for local students. The grade point average (GPA)—or R score in Quebec’s CEGEP system—shows the average for successful applicants. The medical college admission test (MCAT) is a standardized test required for admission at many faculties.Total ApplicantsTotal Admitted
Success Rate (%)
In-ProvinceSuccess Rate (%)
Rest of Canada
Success Rate (%)
(4.0 scale)Average MCAT
Alberta 1,149 156 29.4 9.9 16.7 3.8 10.71 UBC 1,809 254 22.1 8 0 3.71* 10.6 Calgary 1,410 145 29.7 12 50 3.61 10.51 Dalhousie 692 110 38.4† 13.7 54.5 3.7 10 Laval 1,816 164 21.4 10 12.8 R score 33.3 (CEGEP)
R score 30.9 (university)
Manitoba 948 106 35.9 5.7 0 4.16
10.57 McGill (5-yr) 440 88 23.9 N/A N/A N/A Not required(4-yr) 1,024 164 33.7 5.3 11.5 3.8* 10.9 McMaster 4,733 181 6.5 2.8 2.7 3.89* Not required Memorial 704 67 30.8 5.7 29.4 3.8 10 Montréal (5-yr) 1,627 207 24.8 3.8 0 N/A Not required(4-yr) 690 71 12 6.7 0 N/A Not required Ottawa 3,269 145 7.2 3.8 0 3.87* Not required Northern Ontario** 1,892 58 4.3 1.7 0 3.72* Not required Queen’s†† 2,200 95 8 7.2 0 N/A N/A Saskatchewan 591 84 35.9 7.6 0 89.3%* 9.64 Sherbrooke 1,892 204 20.4 30.6 1.3 N/A Not required Toronto 2,731 222 11.5 8.8 2 3.88 11 Western 1,803 147 12.9 4.1 5.9 N/A N/A
Statistics on applicants, admissions and success rates are for 2008-2009. MCAT scores are for students entering in fall 2009. GPA scores are for students entering in 2010, except those flagged with an asterisk, which are from 2009. ††All figures for Queen’s are from 2006-2007. †Includes all Maritime provinces. **Located at Lakehead and Laurentian universities. Note: higher international success rates at some universities may be misleading, given that at some institutions the number includes students who applied for positions available under contract with foreign governments or educational institutions.
Source: Office of Research and Information Services, Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada; MCAT scores obtained directly from Canadian medical schools.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 2 Comments
2009 figures show enrolment continues to increase
The medical schools listed below are sorted by size of enrolment: from the largest, Université de Montréal, to the smallest—and newest—Northern Ontario School of Medicine. These 2009 figures show enrolment continues to increase (up 15 per cent compared to 2006), with women outnumbering men at most institutions.
Female students (%) Total enrolment Montréal 66 1,253 UBC 55 1,006 Laval 70 991 Toronto 55 902 Sherbrooke 61 777 McGill 55 698 Alberta 48 630 Ottawa 63 615 Western 47 591 McMaster 62 541 Calgary 54 488 Manitoba 50 426 Dalhousie 55 414 Queen’s 49 404 Saskatchewan 54 299 Memorial 58 258 Northern Ontario* 68 225 Average 58 10,518
*Northern Ontario School of Medicine is located at Lakehead and Laurentian universities.
Source: Office of Research and Information Services, Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada
By Cathy Gulli - Monday, August 30, 2010 at 4:00 PM - 0 Comments
The genetic revolution didn’t save her. That took a double-lung transplant.
Anyone driving along Highway 401 west to Toronto from Montreal on Oct. 6 would never have known Caroline Donelle had turned her red Honda Civic into a hospital room on wheels. In the trunk were five oxygen tanks and stashes of painkillers. Donelle kept thinking, please don’t let anyone rear-end me.
In the backseat was her daughter, Ashley, then 24, shrouded in a thick comforter, pillows and tubes, wafting in and out of consciousness. Diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as a baby, Ashley had defied expectations—reaching adulthood, attending university, travelling, even having a daughter, Leila.
By Charlie Gillis, Julia Belluz, and Josh Dehaas - Monday, August 16, 2010 at 10:37 AM - 37 Comments
An exclusive Maclean’s poll shows that an increasing number of Canadians don’t
After five miscarriages, and with the odds of ever having children stacked against her, Lee Dix was glad to get a second opinion. It was the summer of 2000, and the Toronto woman had been referred to a gynecologist based at Scarborough Hospital, Dr. Richard Austin, whom she hoped would eventually deliver her first baby. But far from feeding her optimism, Austin told Dix she had a benign tumor called a fibroid in her uterus, and made a provisional diagnosis of endometriosis, a painful disorder where cells on the uterine wall grow out of control. Between 2002 and 2005, the greying physician performed two operations on Dix—one a total abdominal hysterectomy, the other to remove her remaining ovary (she’d had one taken out in a previous operation). “I just went with what he said,” Dix now recalls. “I trusted doctors, and I thought that if anyone is going to work on me, they must have the proper schooling and knowledge.”
By Noah Richler - Tuesday, July 27, 2010 at 4:00 PM - 46 Comments
Noah Richler was warned ‘it’s like 30 years of psychoanalysis in one night’
For a couple of years, I’d been noticing that a bunch of my forty- and fiftysomething middle-class friends were raving, sotto voce, about the transformative and even spiritual aspects of a South American drug called ayahuasca, the plant known in more disinterested circles as Banisteriopsis caapi. It was the Toronto filmmaker Richard Meech, whose documentary Vine of the Soul: Encounters with Ayahuasca is to be broadcast on VisionTV in November, who first brought the drug to my attention, but it was a musician friend who found a place for me at a ceremony that was to take place in a small lakeshore village, now more or less a suburb, an hour north of Toronto.
“For sure, you’ll meet the snake,” said my friend Deborah, an art critic whose curly black locks bring Medusa to mind, when I let slip my plans to try it on the weekend. “No matter your culture, or language, everyone meets the snake.”