Since we began in 1967, the Department of Family Medicine at McMaster University has always focused on growth. Growth in size, growth in innovation and growth in teaching excellence. As primary care continues to evolve, so too do our efforts to educate and inspire world-class family physicians.
In our programs, family is more than our medical specialty – it is the organizational structure that unites our team. Our diverse group of faculty members, administrative staff and allied health professionals come together to build the kind of well-rounded education a physician needs to embark on a career in Family Medicine today.
At McMaster, innovation is found not only through “what” you learn and do, but also “how” you learn and do. We are committed to providing you with the best possible training. Whether it be a large teaching unit in an urban centre or a practice in a smaller community or rural environment, we offer a wide variety of locations as your Family Medicine home base.
How are residents paired with preceptors? Are their specific interests taken into account (ie. obstetrics,
YES! Incoming residents’ interests and preferences are an important factor in matching residents with their primary
family medicine preceptors. Although the exact process varies a bit from site to site, it always includes a survey to
determine incoming residents’ specific interests, and then matching with a preceptor who would be the best fit.
Do residents rotate through other sites, or remain within the one they are matched to?
Residents’ core rotations are scheduled at locations within their site. One exception to this is the two-block rural
rotation in PGY2 during which we expect residents to travel and experience rural family medicine in another region.
Typically this includes living in that smaller community for the rotation, unless there is a compelling reason that is not
possible (such as young children) in which case we ensure a commutable distance.
Residents are certainly invited to pursue opportunities at other sites during elective rotations, and we maintain an
electives database to assist in that process.
How many patients do you follow through your “home base practice” as per your continuity of care? And are
your expected to be the primary physician for these patients (ie calling them to follow up)?
Practice numbers vary from clinic to clinic and the resident list of patients can also vary. The number of patients you
see per clinic day will increase as you gain more experience and competency during the program. Ideally, you will
follow many of the same patients for continuity during your two-year residency. Typically, full-time Family Medicine
blocks provide the volume required to build a roster of active patients, then during your continuity clinics (half-days
back) you will maintain connections with a subset of those patients. We do expect you’ll take on follow up for some
of these patients, particularly when you are on full-time family medicine rotation, and when possible during half-days
What does a typical call schedule look like? And what kind of supervision is provided?
Family Medicine and off-service rotation call schedules differ from rotation to rotation and site to site, but all adhere to
the PARO-CAHO guidelines, All residents are required to participate in a Family Medicine call experience which varies depending on their preceptor’s clinical practice. This may include evening telephone-based call, weekend clinics, urgent care, palliative home-based care and/or long-term care coverage.
Are there any teaching or mentorship opportunities for residents?
Teaching and mentorship are important aspects of medical education and are readily available for interested
residents. That said, opportunities may vary from site to site, and are more plentiful at sites connected to the
McMaster Medical Education Campuses –Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Niagara.
What are the relationships with off-service residents like? Do FM residents still get prioritized for
procedures, learning opportunities as opposed to more service-based learning?
The number of off-service residents varies from site to site, and from rotation to rotation. You will encounter the most
residents from other programs in the Hamilton Site – which affords a robust resident learning community, but also
create competition for some opportunities. That said, preceptors are aware of the specific objectives for FM
residents, and there are opportunities at all sites to work one-on-one with preceptors in order to maximize
procedures, etc. If being the only resident in the hospital, or on rotation is a priority for you, we’d encourage you to
look at our smaller urban or rural sites.
How does the clinical experience differ during the rural rotation in second year for those who are matched to
a rural site?
Although all Family Medicine residents must complete two-blocks of rural family medicine as part of their program,
we realize rural stream-residents already get that exposure through their core family medicine rotations. We use the additional two-block rural rotation in PGY2 to provide a complementary exposure in a different hospital system, often
in a more remote or smaller setting, to further develop the skills and competencies required for rural family practice.
Are the rural sites known for having more opportunities to participate in FM OB, surgical assist or hospitalist
In addition to Family Medicine clinic, all rural residents have some hospital based experiences embedded throughout
the core family medicine rotations. This includes adult inpatient care (MRP) and integrated Emergency Medicine
shifts for all rural residents. FM-obstetrics opportunities are strongly supported and encouraged.
What are the opportunities for surgical procedures within the program?
All residents will gain experience with common office-based procedures during their family medicine rotations, which
typically include injections, office gynecology, joint injections, minor skin procedures. There are also numerous
procedural skills and simulation-based sessions run throughout the program, to offer the opportunity to learn and
practice skills in suturing, joint injections, obstetrics and emergency response, and more. Residents seeking
additional surgical procedures are encouraged to pursue horizontal and block elective opportunities with that in mind.
What programs exist for resident education? Ex. lectures, journal clubs, practical training skills workshops?
We have a really robust academic curriculum that we encourage you to explore through our website. It includes
several longitudinal components, such as Academic Half-Days, tutorials in Mental Health & Behavioural Science,
quality improvement and evidence-based medicine. Our residents also participate in the Residency Practice-Based
Small Group learning program which use case-based modules to anchor small group facilitated discussion.
In addition to the longitudinal curriculum, we have a number of academic sessions concentrated during block 7 –
which falls during the Dec/Jan time frame. These include a mix of didactic sessions, hands-on procedural skills and
simulation, skill development workshops and transition to practice sessions.
What are some of the opportunities related to improving research skills? What kind of support do residents
get to complete research projects?
Our program prides itself on our recently integrated InQuiry curriculum, which combines both training in evidence-
based medicine as well as quality improvement. This is a mandatory part of the curriculum wherein a QI project is
required prior to graduation. Residents are provided protected time and regular check-ins with their IQ tutors to
support their QI research during their academic day. For those residents with a more significant research interest,
our Research and Scholarship Lead is a valuable mentor and resource who supports connections to faculty, projects
and skill development opportunities across the department through electives and more.
What are the global health opportunities?
The global health curriculum not only refers to activities outside of Canada but also transcends borders and
addresses issues of health inequities related to issues of poverty within our own communities. Core competencies
related to global health are addressed through our academic curriculum, in Academic Half Day, as well as Mental
Health and Behavioural Sciences. There are many clinical opportunities that incorporate care for systemically and
historically vulnerable populations across our sites, including shelter health, addictions clinics, care for migrant
workers, etc, etc. While some of this work may be embedded in core rotations, it can be supplemented through
horizontal and block elective planning. International electives are also available and are noted in the next question
Are there any opportunities for international electives?
Residents are welcome to further develop their skills within a global health mindset, placing a priority on improving
health and achieving equity in health for all people worldwide. McMaster has a unique partnership with Syiah Kuala University in Aceh, Indonesia to support the development of a medical school curriculum in the areas of disaster
preparedness and risk reduction in family medicine. Elective opportunities are available in various areas and are arranged based on residents’ individual interests.
What does the Indigenous Health curriculum look like? Is there any engagement within the community from
a clinical and/or cultural aspect?
With support from cultural leaders within the Six Nations community, our Indigenous Health curriculum will assist
learners in developing an approach to providing care for Indigenous people that incorporates an understanding of the
historical and sociopolitical context of Indigenous people in Canada, honours a Two-Eyed Seeing Approach to
providing health care and recognizes the importance of the relationship in all interactions with Indigenous people.
Most notably, a longitudinal, integrated Indigenous Health curriculum has been implemented at our Grand Erie Six
Nations site and is being expanded program wide.
Are there wellness opportunities or time to connect/socialize with your fellow residents?
Resident well-being is a priority in our program, with dedicated space and support in place throughout a resident’s
training. The Mental Health & Behavioural Science program allows for residents to check-in with their small group
during tutorial each week, to speak to their experiences on rotation, challenges they may be facing or to share parts
of their personal life, to celebrate joys and seek support as needed. There is also an opportunity for preceptors to
connect with residents during the portfolio review, to see how they are doing overall.
Events are planned at both a site and central level with wellness in mind, whether it be allowing for purposeful breaks
and lunches, or ensuring there is an opportunity for a fun, social activity to bring the group together.
Our mission is to prepare outstanding family doctors, create and disseminate knowledge, and advance and integrate the principles and values of Family Medicine.
Information Box Group
We chose the McMaster residency program because of the opportunities offered to residents, the comprehensive family medicine experience and the extensive elective options to individualize your training. Through the community-based residency training program, we will complete our residency with greater confidence to transition into practice.
The integrated program has really given me an appreciation for the continuity of care involved in a family medicine practice. Most months of the year, I am in my family medicine clinic for at least one to two days. Every time I work in a specialty clinic, I can discuss cases that I see during the week in my clinic with the specialist. Conversely, I can immediately take what I learn with the specialist back to my family medicine clinic within days.
Learning alongside rural preceptors is certainly about the medicine, but it’s also about understanding the workflow, recognizing the complexities and benefits of having a more varied schedule and set of responsibilities, and learning how to manage inpatients, a family clinic, and a laboring patient all in one day.