Faculty of Medicine

Doctor of Medicine

The Faculty of Medicine of the University of Calgary offers a three-year professional degree leading to a 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 an MSc and/or a PhD degree. Each student will spend at least two postgraduate years in the academic area in which he or she is interested.

Goals, Objectives and Operating Philosophy


The Undergraduate Medical Education program at the University of Calgary strives to:

1. Be an innovative and progressive 3-year program that educates its students to become compassionate, competent and well-rounded physicians prepared for supervised practice.

2. Provide an environment that fosters collegiality among students, faculty and allied health professionals to produce future physicians capable of working cooperatively within a team of health care providers.

3. Facilitate the acquisition of clinical problem solving skills through the use of clinical presentations as the foundation of its curriculum, early contact with patients and integration of basic and clinical sciences.

4. Prepare students to remain competent throughout their career, be able to appraise new scientific medical information and thoughtfully modify their practice accordingly.

5. Maintain an active learning environment by incorporating research opportunities, scheduled independent study time and selecting a balance of instructional modalities which include: small group discussions, problem based learning, interactive lectures, simulated patient encounters and bedside teaching.

6. Communicate clear performance expectations to students through the use of outcome based objectives assessed in an ongoing fashion with formative and summative evaluations.

Educational Objectives

A student at the time of graduation will be able to:

1. Demonstrate the basic science and clinical science knowledge and skills necessary for the supervised practice of medicine, and be able to use the knowledge efficiently in the analysis and solution of the most common clinical presentations.

2. Evaluate patients and properly manage their medical problems by:

(a) Conducting a comprehensive medical history and thorough physical examination; reliably eliciting appropriate information in the history and detecting abnormal findings on the physical examination.

(b) Correctly identifying the patient's medical problems.

(c) Formulating accurate hypotheses as to the causes and solutions of the problems.

(d) Developing appropriate strategies for exploring these hypotheses.

(e) Formulating and implementing a management plan to deal effectively with these problems.

3. Apply a comprehensive biopsychosocial approach in the evaluation and care of patients sensitive to cultural and spiritual beliefs, attitudes and behaviours.

4. Demonstrate knowledge of the fundamental concepts of disease prevention and health promotion for individual patients and populations and incorporate them into treatment plans as appropriate.

5. Communicate and interact effectively with patients, families, medical staff and others involved in the delivery of health services.

6. Develop and apply high ethical principles and standards in all aspects of medical practice.

7. Exhibit appropriate personal and interpersonal professional behaviours.

8. Demonstrate effective and appropriate use of technology and critically analyze and interpret biomedical data in the evaluation and selection of optimal care for patients.

9. Demonstrate self-directed life-long learning skills.

10. Identify and investigate diversified opportunities for research experience and training.

Operating Philosophy

The program will support the goals and objectives of the Undergraduate Medical Education program and will be characterized by:

1. An innovative 3-year program with clinical presentations as the foundation of the curriculum. The curriculum provides:

(a) An approach to the solution of the clinical presentation.

(b) Knowledge pertinent to this clinical presentation.

(c) Exposure to a balance of clinical settings with clinical presentations in ambulatory, emergency, long term and acute health care delivery situations.

2. Objectives for each clinical presentation developed by expert faculty and containing a clinical reasoning pathway and diagnostic classification schemes unique to the problem.

3. A curriculum that integrates basic and clinical sciences, which are introduced in a graduated fashion as they relate to the clinical presentation being addressed.

4. A curriculum that maintains an active learning environment with more than 25 per cent of scheduled instructional activities spent in small group, case-based learning sessions.

5. Small group case-based learning sessions that provide an essential and unique learning activity for the students. These sessions promote:

(a) Creation of an approach to clinical problem solving.

(b) In depth analysis of the objectives and content of clinical problems presented in lectures.

(c) Diagnostic classification schemes and their active reinforcement in solving clinical problems.

(d) Correction of student misperceptions.

(e) Development of communication skills.

6. Role model-based instruction for the student in a broad range of skills including medical expertise, communication, collaboration, health care management, health advocacy, scholarly, and professional growth.

7. Early and ongoing exposure to real and standardized patients to increase relevance of course material; demonstrate appropriate personal and interpersonal professional behaviour, and to emphasize the importance of communication skills.

8. Electronic access to educational materials relating to the curricular content.

9. Opportunities for students to explore additional professional interests in the broad field of health care delivery.

10. Independent study time (IST) so that the student can actively process knowledge and construct their understanding. In order to facilitate this deeper approach to learning, scheduled IST of a minimum of three half days per week is organized within the pre-clerkship curriculum. This time is intended for:

(a) Preparation of small group assignments either working alone or in teams.

(b) Completion of assigned reading.

(c) Study around objectives.

(d) Pursuing research or career sampling opportunities (time permitting).

11. An evaluation process that:

(a) Measures clinical problem solving, medical skills, professional behaviour, and general content knowledge.

(b) Clearly communicates performance expectations through the use of outcome-based learning objectives.

(c) Includes peer assessment of the attainment of educational and professional objectives.

(d) Provides students with an examination blueprint.

(e) Provides ongoing formative and summative evaluations throughout the three years of the curriculum.

The Faculty will:

1. Familiarize themselves with and promote the educational goals, objectives, and philosophy of the program.

2. Foster a cooperative approach to learning.

3. Maintain a collegial atmosphere of involvement in a shared enterprise.

4. Provide a rich body of educational resources to support structured and independent learning.

5. Promote electronic access to the curricular content.

6. Support small group tutors by provision of materials with case-based learning objectives, the clinical presentation, clinical reasoning pathway, diagnostic classification schemes, and appropriate knowledge references (basic science and clinical).

7. Reinforce clinical presentations, clinical reasoning pathways, and diagnostic classification schemes learned in Year 1 and 2 while teaching in the clinical clerkship.

8. Provide learning experiences that require active student participation.

9. Prepare, administer and mark student evaluations.

10. Receive information on collective student attainment of objectives.

11. Provide feedback to students on personal achievement of objectives.

12. Assist the student in learning to assess and to accept assessment from peers.

13. Evaluate and modify the curriculum on the basis of educational advances, faculty evaluation of students, student evaluation of the program and evaluation of graduates' performance.

14. Be committed to ongoing exploration, evaluation and implementation of novel and effective learning/teaching methods.

15. Pursue continuous improvement of their teaching skills by supporting and participating in faculty development training programs.

16. Serve as positive role models.

The student will:

1. Maintain a collegial, personal, and interpersonal professional comportment in all activities of the Faculty of Medicine where the students are clearly recognized as being from the Faculty of Medicine as outlined in the Student Handbook and the Student Code of Conduct.

2. Be responsible, with faculty assistance, for mastering skills in all domains of medical competence including: medical expertise, communication, collaboration, health care management, health advocacy, scholarly, and professional growth.

3. Attend, actively participate, and prepare in advance for small group learning/experiences. This facilitates active learning with opportunities to practice clinical problem solving with the benefit of direct feedback.

4. Learn to evaluate and accept assessment from peers with the assistance of faculty.

5. Be responsible for providing feedback to the faculty on one's perception of the curricular effectiveness, learning opportunities, and evaluation procedures of the Undergraduate Medical Curriculum.

6. Attend patient-based activities.

Pattern of Education

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The University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine offers a three year professional degree leading to a 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 professional graduate school than that of an undergraduate college. Accordingly, and particularly since medical education must continue for the student's entire professional life, considerable emphasis is placed on the self-instruction resources available.. 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.


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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 on the South Campus which is 1.5 km from the Main Campus of the University of Calgary. The South Campus is comprised of the Health Sciences Centre, the O'Brien Centre and the TRW Building in the HRIC. Within the Health Sciences Centre are the Medical Library, Medical Instructional Resources Unit, Bacs Medical Learning Resource Centre, Medical Skills Centre, Anatomy Labs, Medical Bookstore, UME Student Lounge, Cafeteria/Food Court and Mall area and banking machines. The newly renovated facilities offer a wireless environment but also include several touchdown spaces with Internet hookups. In keeping with the University of Calgary Wellness Strategy, there are two fitness facilities on site. The newly upgraded Foothills Gym* is located on the lower level of the Health Sciences Centre. The gym includes treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary bikes, etc. The TRW Building houses the Kinetix Fitness and Wellness Centre** which offers a fitness facility with state-of-the-art equipment (weight-training machines, free weights and cardio equipment), training space where personal training and classes such as yoga, pilates, etc. may be offered, as well as locker room amenities. Food and retail services are also located in the HRIC.

Immediately adjacent to the South Campus 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. The Foothills Medical Centre also has several cafeterias, a gift shop and banking machines.

Parking is available through the Parking Office at Foothills Hospital. Off site parking is available through the University of Calgary Main Campus Parking office.

On the Main 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.

* Membership is optional: $25 fee per year.

** Membership is optional: $35 fee per month.

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 Research Innovation Centre

The newly created Health Research Innovation Centre supports medical research and teaching in a dynamic interdisciplinary environment. The complex is comprised of two buildings, the laboratory building and the Teaching, Research and Wellness building. The complex features dry and wet laboratories, the latest in medical technologies, and outpatient clinics serving 150,000 patients each year. The buildings also house seven new institutes, carrying out research in areas as diverse as the brain, bone and joint health, cancer, cardiovascular health, maternal and child health, infection, immunity and inflammation, and health care policy. The new 56,000m2 complex links to the Health Sciences Centre and the Heritage Medical Research Building, which adjoin the Foothills Hospital.

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 Health Sciences Centre 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 O'Brien Centre for the Bachelor of Health Sciences, 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 2,800 serials, including over 2,000 electronic journals, over 600 electronic books, and has 154,000 print 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 Division of Health Sciences, 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, Embase, PsycInfo, Web of Science, and the Cochrane Abstracts 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 web-based and print resources. The Library serves the medical and nursing students, the rest of the University of Calgary community, the Calgary Health Region, practicing physicians in southern Alberta, and the public at large.

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.

Instructional Resources

Instructional Resources is composed of 6 areas: the Bacs Centre, Medical Skills Centre, the Anatomy Lab, Classroom Services. Multimedia Services and AudioVisual Services. Instructional Resources provides learning resources and services to the Faculty of Medicine as well as students, faculty and staff in other health and wellness faculties on campus.

For further information, please see http://iresources.myweb.med.ucalgary.ca

The Bacs Medical Learning Resource Centre offers a unique learning centre for students, faculty and professionals in health care, to study the body's systems and diseases. This self-study area contains anatomical models, mounted and plastinated pathology and anatomy specimen, audiovisual materials, and access to electronic resources including reference materials, tutorial sessions, and clinical case problems.

The Centre, which was made possible by a private donation of the Bacs family, consists of resources for the areas of: Blood, Cardiovascular, Endocrine-Metabolic, Gastrointestinal, Human Development, Mind, Musculoskeletal and Skin, Neurosciences, Principles for Medicine, Renal and Electrolyte, Reproduction and Respiratory, and Clinical Clerkship.

The Medical Skills Centre provides space as well as standardized and volunteer patients to support the undergraduate and postgraduate educational and skills development programs at the Faculty of Medicine, as well as for affiliated organizations. The area contains 18 double rooms that allow students to be observed in their interactions with simulated patients. Video equipment is also available, allowing students and faculty to review strengths and weaknesses in techniques and practices.

Along with numerous courses and outside users, the Medical Skills Program is a major client of the Medical Skills Centre. The components of the Medical Skills Program include: Ethics, Well Physician, Culture, Culture Health and Wellness, Communications, and Physical Examination.

The Anatomy Lab is an excellent learning centre for teaching and learning procedural skills in anatomy, surgery and other medical and health care areas. The facility is equipped with computers linked to the CHR's PACs system, has audiovisual capability, and is designed so that it can be divided into 1 to 10 areas ("pods") making it truly multi-functional.

Classroom Services manages bookings for the educational and event facilities in the Health Sciences Centre. This includes rooms for classes, meetings, seminars, group study, learning and other events.

Multi Media Services supports the education and research initiatives of the Faculty by providing technically advanced digital photography, video production, digital imaging, and computer graphics services.

Audio Visual Services provides the AV equipment and support for the classrooms, theatres, and other facilities in the Health Sciences Centre. They also provide support and coordination for videoconferencing services within the Faculty.

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.