Medical School Spotlight: McGill Univeristy

Our writer is a student at McGill University. He was raised in Toronto, ON and finished his undergrad at Western University.

I’ll try to give a gist of how my personal experience at McGill has been so far. Every student experience is different, however, and I encourage interested applicants to reach out to as many people in the Faculty and student body as possible!

What is a typical week for a McGill medical student?

McGill’s medical curriculum offers a lot of flexibility. There is slight variation from week-to-week, but the general set-up is as follows: Lectures start at 8:30 AM and go till 11:30 PM with hourly breaks at 9:30 and 10:30. The afternoon is usually reserved for group or individual activities such as case-based small groups, basic science journal clubs, anatomy labs (McGill offers its students cadaveric dissections), the Longitudinal Family Medicine Experience (more on this below), etc. Lectures are recorded in case that you can’t make it to campus, but group activities are mandatory with attendance being taken. There are no classes scheduled 1-2 days before block exams. The afternoons/evenings are usually free enough that students are encouraged to try their hand at things such as interest group commitments, personal observerships, or take a step back and enjoy time off with your friends and family.

Why should I pick McGill over other medical schools?

McGill really prides itself on being clinically-oriented very early on in the medical curriculum. The Longitudinal Family Medicine Experience, for example, is an opportunity for students to observe the interactions between matched family physicians and their patients 2-3 times a week. The anatomy labs are another big plus for the surgically-oriented. McGill has one of the lowest student-to-cadaver ratios, allowing everyone who is interested ample opportunity to dissect in detail (if dissection is not your thing, you don’t have to!).

The administration also does a great job taking into consideration student well-being and mental health. Every block, we have Wellness lectures (give a good break from the pace of the scientific material). Also, the Faculty of Medicine has a very well-organized Absences and Leaves policy, with 10 sick days and 20 flex days per academic year.

Besides the curriculum, a big pro of the program is the strength of its alumni network. Observership opportunities are plentiful and it is quite easy to reach out to physicians in the community and have them take you on as students. The small groups that you attend are led by passionate physicians in a close-knit group setting, allowing students to network and get honest feedback on specialities and any other questions.

McGill expects its students to have a working proficiency in French by the time of clerkship (Med-3), which can seem daunting to many students like me whose French may need some brushing up. Personally, however, there are many opportunities to improve your conversational French—including your classmates! The Faculty organizes affordable weekend clinical French workshops which students can access as well.

How can you make your application stand out for this medical school?

I think that McGill really values strong passions outside of pure academics. One of my many observations about the class is that everyone seems to have a very strong passion/hobby that they keep active outside of the classroom. When submitting your extra-curriculars to McGill, I would highly recommend trying to tie in how your activities impacted your growth and the messages you took from them. When I applied, I tried to keep the language simple and straight-to-the-point. The committee will be reading hundreds of applications, so anything that makes your application a smoother and more interesting read plays in your favour.

Check out our full series on medical schools below!
Medical school spotlight: University of British Columbia (UBC)
Medical school spotlight: University of Toronto
Medical school spotlight: McMaster University
Medical school spotlight: University of Ottawa
Medical school spotlight: Western University
Pharmacy school spotlight: Ferris State University
Medical school spotlight: Université Laval
Medical school spotlight: University of Calgary