Faculty of Medicine

Doctor of Medicine

The Faculty of Medicine of the University of Calgary offers a three-year program leading to the degree of Doctor of Medicine (MD). The academic year consists of 11 months of instruction and one month of unassigned vacation time.

During the third and final year of undergraduate medical education, students are expected to identify an area for postgraduate training. Some students will be interested in medical specialties such as surgery or internal medicine, or in the specialty of family medicine; others will be interested in a career in research which might logically lead to the MSc and/or PhD degrees. Each student will spend at least two postgraduate years in the academic area in which he/she is interested.


Creating the Future of Health


An innovative medical school committed to excellence and leadership in education, research and service to society.

The pattern of education in most medical schools is changing rapidly in response to trends in the provision of health services, new concepts of learning, and pressures from the community and from the profession. The philosophy of the Faculty is to modify the curriculum as required in response to these trends to ensure the preparedness of students. There is increased recognition that the content of medical education need not be precisely the same for every medical student. Students should master a curriculum which will provide the fundamentals for the practice of Medicine regardless of the discipline which they eventually elect to pursue. Beyond this, through elective and free time, medical education can be tailored to suit particular talents and interests.

During undergraduate medical training, there is provided independent study time for the student to sample those areas available to him or her after graduation. In many medical schools, considerable emphasis has been given to biomedical research and conventional specialties, such as internal medicine, surgery, and paediatrics. At the same time, these schools have stressed primary care specialties. This is also the pattern at the University of Calgary.

In parallel with the recognition that graduates of a medical school need not all be cast from the same mold comes the acknowledgement that the premedical training need not follow a fixed pattern. For example, students contemplating a medical career in an area such as psychiatry might be advised to concentrate, during their premedical education, on the behavioural and social sciences, but without ignoring the physical and biological sciences. The converse might be true of students contemplating a medical career in an area such as biomedical, pharmacological or physiological research.

Pattern of Education

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The University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine does not require that a student undertake a formal premedical program. Rather, nine courses are suggested as providing adequate preparation for entry into Medicine. While these might be viewed as "prerequisite," the Admissions Committee is prepared to waive certain courses for students who have pursued unusual educational programs. It is the intention of the Faculty to permit entry into Medicine of exceptional students of other disciplines, without requiring undue expenditure of their time on traditional "premedical" courses.


The University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine offers a three year program leading to the degree of Doctor of Medicine (MD). The academic year consists of 11 months of instruction and one month of unassigned vacation time.

The educational program of any medical school is predicated on the calibre of its instructors, and on their enthusiasm for teaching and research. The faculty has been chosen with both considerations in mind. All faculty members have a major interest in education as well as research. No sharp distinction has been made between "basic" medical sciences and "clinical" sciences. We seek to bring together the PhD and the MD as members of teaching and research teams; we seek also to emphasize the "team" concept of provision of health services by coordinating the activities of the physician and of those in related health fields such as dentistry, pharmacy, nursing, physiotherapy, psychology and social work.

All areas of instruction are integrated to facilitate communication between faculty members and students. Students are represented on the Curriculum Committee as well as on curriculum sub-committees.

The multidisciplinary approach to teaching emphasizes the pathophysiological, biochemical, environmental and behavioural background to disease. During exposure to the curriculum, students are able to pursue, through "elective" time, their interest in one of several areas (for example, fundamental and applied research; research in clinical specialties, including family medicine, or community medicine). It is anticipated that such undergraduate education will form the basis for an approach to continuing medical education.

Normally, students are required to complete the first two years of the Curriculum within no more than four years from the initiation of studies, and complete the Clerkship within two years after the completion of the first two years of study. Exceptions are made for students formally enrolled in the MD/PhD or MD/MSc programs where the maximum time allowed for the completion of the combined programs is eight years and six years respectively.

In cases of leave of absence, the Student Academic Review Committee reserves the right to review all students who have taken leaves of absence prior to resumption of studies. The maximum duration of leave of absence without compulsory review of the student's progress by the Student Academic Review Committee is one year. If the leave of absence is in excess of one year, the student will be reviewed by the Student Academic Review Committee prior to resumption of studies. The Student Academic Review Committee may ask for the student to be reassessed prior to resumption of studies and may request the student repeat any portion of the preceding curriculum if found unsatisfactory before continuing further studies.

Postgraduate Medicine

During the third and final year of undergraduate medical education, students are expected to identify an area for postgraduate training. Some students will be interested in medical specialties such as surgery or internal medicine, or in the specialty of family medicine; others will be interested in a career in research and may wish to combine their medical postgraduate training with an MSc degree. Students who are interested in pursuing family medicine must complete a two-year College of Family Physicians of Canada program. For those interested in pursuing other specialties, more than 40 Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada programs (minimum length is four years) are available. This postgraduate medical training may be taken at other centres.

Research Activities

Students may apply to the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research for financial support in the form of part-time studentships or fellowships (for those already possessing a PhD degree) to enable them to obtain research training and experience during elective periods. For information, contact the Associate Dean (Graduate Sciences Education).

Innovations in Medical Education at the University of Calgary

The traditional pattern of medical education is being altered through the selection of some students who possess academic backgrounds other than the physical and biological sciences, and through the provision of a curriculum which merges "basic" and "clinical" medical sciences. The Undergraduate Medical Education Office within the University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine aids in evaluating not only students, but also the faculty and the teaching program. A mechanism is thereby provided for ongoing revision of the teaching program of the medical school. The medical school building has been designed to bring student and faculty into contact not only in lecture theatres and laboratories, but also in dining and lounge areas. The University of Calgary Medical Clinic, where the student can observe model care of patients, has been incorporated within the medical school, so that students may observe a health-team approach to provision of health care from the day they first enter medical school.

During the first two years of instruction the student will spend most of his/her time on the main floor of the Health Sciences Centre, or in the adjacent hospital. Research laboratories are situated on the upper floors of the Health Sciences Centre and in the adjacent Heritage Medical Research Building. The entire complex is designed to facilitate communication amongst faculty and between faculty and students.

The University of Calgary medical student is exposed to patients from the time he or she is admitted to Medicine, and is able to study fundamental material in the context of clinical application.

The educational program of the University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine is based on the premise that the pattern of instruction should more closely resemble that of a graduate school than an undergraduate college. Accordingly, and particularly since medical education must continue for the student's entire professional life, considerable emphasis will be placed upon self-instruction. Students are expected to use to the fullest the instructional resources available to them. They also have the opportunity to examine and to use the expertise of the allied health professions.

Seminar rooms are provided for small group instruction and there are specially designed rooms to train students in interviewing patients.


In response to the needs of the community we serve, the objectives of the Faculty of Medicine are:

1. To admit candidates with the attitudes, skills and educational experiences that are consistent with the Mission Statement, values, principles and beliefs of the medical school. The Faculty recognizes our obligation to promote, encourage and support applications from candidates belonging to our aboriginal population.

2. To teach and evaluate medical students, graduate clinical trainees and practicing physicians in a manner consistent with the principles of life-long learning and towards satisfactory completion of their training and licensure examinations.

3. To promote continuity of learning, from entry into medical school, during graduate training, and throughout professional practice.

4. To teach and provide research training to undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral trainees in a cooperative and multidisciplinary environment which will stimulate the creation of new knowledge, ideas, resources and technology which will be to the benefit of society.

5. To cooperate with affiliated institutions and professional societies in medical education, research and clinical care.

6. To encourage integration of education and research so that these activities become interdependent and of equal status.

7. To continually evaluate and adjust our objectives in order to enhance the quality, effectiveness and efficiency of our educational process to be responsive to the needs of the community we serve.

8. To provide a supportive and stimulating environment for members to carry out their administrative, education, patient care and research responsibilities.

9. To admit candidates with demonstrated interest in obtaining degrees in both medicine and a related field.


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Careers In Medicine

Medical graduates may elect to pursue a career as practitioners of medicine; they may decide to involve themselves in academic medicine and research; they may select a vocation in administration; or they may, in the course of their careers, engage in several of these activities.

Patient Care

Graduates who are primarily interested in clinical medicine can select those areas of most interest to them and which provide the greatest service to the community. With the complexity of modern medicine, doctors pursuing this vocation must be prepared to extend their knowledge beyond medicine. They must be prepared to deal with the health of communities, as well as individuals and perhaps, most importantly, they must be prepared to continue their education long after they have left medical school. Physicians whose commitment to these considerations is intense, develop a marked interest in one particular area of medicine, and follow academic programs in surgery, internal medicine, paediatrics, anaesthesia, radiology, psychiatry, family medicine or obstetrics and gynaecology; some confine their interests to subspecialties (for example, cardiology or cardiovascular surgery) within these broader areas. In general the period of formal academic preparation is longer for specific areas.

Teaching and Research

Many physicians who are primarily interested in the care of patients contribute their time and knowledge to the clinical teaching of medical undergraduates and residents. Others confine their activities to the medical school, teaching, and conducting research at both clinical and fundamental levels. Teaching and research positions in basic science departments are open to graduates with either a PhD or MD degree. Many teachers have both degrees. At the present time, some with PhD degrees teach within clinical departments, but the usual qualification for such an appointment is an MD degree, as well as certification in one of the clinical specialties.


Some medical graduates select careers which are predominantly administrative. These careers, to be found in university, hospital, industry and government, may be related to clinical medicine. Some individuals with training in an area other than Medicine are attracted to fields such as biomedical engineering and legal medicine.

Student Affairs

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Student Facilities

The University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine is situated in the Health Sciences Centre which is on a site located 1.5 km from the main campus of the University of Calgary. Immediately adjacent to the Health Sciences Centre are the Foothills Hospital, Tom Baker Cancer Centre, Special Services Building, Heritage Medical Research Building, Grace Women's Health Centre, and South Tower office/apartment block, known collectively as the Foothills Medical Centre. Within the Health Sciences Centre are the Medical Library, Medical Instructional Resources Unit, Bacs Medical Learning Resource Centre, Medical Skills Centre, medical bookstore, exercise room, student lounge, cafeteria and mall area. Foothills Hospital/Special Services Building also have several cafeterias. Parking is available through the Parking Office at Foothills Hospital.

On the campus of the University of Calgary, MacEwan Hall and MacEwan Student Centre provide a variety of student services. Complete athletic facilities, including an indoor swimming pool, are available on campus. In addition, the University Health Services maintains facilities on campus.

Student Organization

All medical students automatically become members of the Calgary Medical Students' Association. As well, students act as representatives on all major Faculty committees, including the Curriculum Committee and the Admissions Committee. The Student Affairs Committee is co-chaired by two second-year medical students and includes representatives from graduate students in the Medical Sciences program. The committee oversees many aspects of the daily life of medical and graduate students. The Director and the Coordinator of the Student Affairs Office provide assistance, counselling and referral services for academic and non-academic matters. In addition, the Students' Union of The University of Calgary provides a Student's Handbook which outlines student organizations and activities.


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Health Sciences Centre

The University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine uses the facilities of the Foothills Hospital, the Peter Lougheed Centre, the Alberta Children's Hospital, and the Rockyview Hospital, for clinical instruction. Other hospitals may also contribute to the educational program.

The Faculty of Medicine is housed in the four-floor Health Sciences Centre adjacent to the Foothills Hospital and the Heritage Medical Research Building. The Health Sciences Centre is located 1.5 km from the main campus of the University of Calgary. This building also contains the University of Calgary Medical Clinic and 27,870 net m2 of teaching and research space. The photographics unit, electron microscope suite, animal resources centre, and other service areas are situated in the basement. The main floor contains clinical conference and seminar rooms, auditoriums, lecture theatres, dining area, audiovisual centre, the Medical Skills Centre, the Bacs Medical Learning Resource Centre, the medical bookstore, and the first floor of the University of Calgary Medical Clinic.

The Health Sciences Library

The Health Sciences Library currently receives 1,170 serials, including over 200 electronic journals, with 130,000 volumes in its collection. The collection supporting medical education is being developed extensively. The library offers reference services and networked access to a variety of electronic information sources. Document delivery is available to all members of the Faculty of Medicine and Nursing, providing access to university collections worldwide. Through an electronic gateway the library provides access to its catalogue, the internet and a variety of biomedical databases including MEDLINE, CINAHL, CancerLit, PsycInfoHealthStar, the Cochrane Abstacts Evidence-based Practice as part of the Health Knowledge Network. An important component of the Library program is the instruction of students in the use of resources in the Library and on the internet. The Library serves the medical and nursing students, the rest of the University of Calgary community, practicing physicians in southern Alberta, and the public at large.

Bacs Medical Learning Resource Centre

One of the major components of the philosophy of medical instruction in the Faculty of Medicine is the idea of self learning. This philosophy has been enhanced by the design of the Bacs Medical Learning Resource Centre, a 500 m2 self-study area for medical students, faculty, graduate students and other health professionals.

The Centre, which was made possible by a private donation, consists of 12 areas: Blood, Cardiovascular, Clinical Clerkship, Endocrine-Metabolic, Gastrointestinal, Human Development, Mind, Musculoskeletal & Skin, Neurosciences, Principles for Medicine, Renal & Electrolyte, Reproduction and Respiratory. Each area contains audiovisual materials, anatomical models, mounted and plastinated pathology and anatomy specimens, and reference texts. Medical computer programs, ranging from tutorial sessions to clinical case problem solving, are also available.

In addition to these areas is a physical examination room that enables students to practice routine examinations with the aid of models, examination videos and medical information panels.

Medical Skills Centre

The Medical Skills Centre is set up for small group teaching and examinations. The area is made up of double rooms equipped with one-way mirrors and video equipment so interactions can be observed from the A room to the B room, live or on videotape. This enables students to review strengths and weaknesses in their technique. The Centre coordinates students with preceptors and volunteer patients for various components of the program. The Centre is an integral part of Medical Educational Resources.

The components of the Medical Skills Program include: Ethics, Well Physician, Culture, Health & Illness, Communications, and Physical Examination.

Several of the rooms are equipped with computers that provide students immediate access to various medical databases during discussion of particular clinical cases.

Health Sciences Library Information Commons

Located in the Health Sciences Library, the Health Sciences Information Commons is designated to support the scholarly use of information resources, and to provide students and faculty with information literacy skills. The Library and others regularly provide instruction sessions on how to access the wealth of electronic information available, and how to organize it using application software. When there are no classes in progress, students are more than welcome to drop in and use the workstations to complete their academic work.

University of Calgary Medical Clinic

The University of Calgary Medical Clinic (UCMC) provides an educational model of health care delivery. The UCMC provides clinical outpatient consulting services at several sites in the city through affiliation with the Calgary Regional Health Authority (CRHA) including the Acute Care Sector sites: Foothills Hospital (FH), Peter Lougheed Centre (PLC), Rockyview Hospital (RVH), and the Alberta Children's Hospital (ACH). The Heritage Medical Research Clinics were opened at the UCMC in mid-1989, establishing a high quality facility for a variety of important clinical research studies ranging from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, geriatrics, to AIDS. A cadre of family physicians provides continuing care to a number of families representing a cross section of the adult and paediatric population of the community at the UCMC-FH site and two free-standing clinics in Calgary shopping centres (UCMC - Sunridge and UCMC - North Hill). Consultants in the clinical specialties (Surgery, Internal Medicine, Psychiatry, Obstetrics & Gynaecology and Clinical Neurosciences) use the UCMC-FH, UCMC-PLC, and UCMC-RVH when involved with the out-patient evaluation of patients from Calgary and Southern Alberta. The clinical paediatric subspecialties evaluate patients from Calgary and Southern Alberta at the UCMC-ACH. The Department of Community Health Sciences utilizes a facility at UCMC-FH as its laboratory in teaching the principles of preventive medicine, human growth and development, epidemiology and medical sociology. An International Travel Clinic at the UCMC-FH site specializes in advising overseas travellers as to preventive medicine and immunization requirements for different countries. There are also a number of highly specialized outpatient clinics staffed by faculty consultants at other locations in the city (e.g. Diabetes Clinic, Fertility Clinic, Asian Medical Centre). All clinics provide a milieu for research into health care delivery and epidemiology.