McMaster University, Hamilton (Canada)

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Impressions of McMaster

  • Priyanka Dixit – medical student from Sydney Medical School, undertook an Elective with McMaster University in 2011–12
  • Christina Chang – a medical student from Sydney Medical School undertook a placement with McMaster University
  • Jacquelyn Choi – a medical student from Sydney Medical School, undertook an elective at McMaster University in Canada in 2010–11

Priyanka Dixit – medical student from Sydney Medical School, undertook an Elective with McMaster University in 2011-12

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My two electives at McMaster University Medical Centre were incredible! I had the opportunity to work with leaders in the fields of Allergy/Immunology and Paediatric Gastroenterology. I started with the Allergy/Immunology elective, which was primarily clinic based. Each day I was paired with a different specialist allowing me to learn and refine varied techniques for patient investigation and management. It was amazing to see cutting edge research in practice. The combination of their enthusiasm to teach and the high level of involvement and independence I was given made it an enjoyable experience.

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The second elective in Paediatric Gastroenterology was quite a drastic change as it was primarily ward based and fast paced. Many patients were in varied states of health from being assessed as a stable follow-up to chasing PACE calls from critically ill patients. On the very first day, you are considered a vital member of the team, and are expected to actively participate in patient management (complete dictations, follow-up with investigations, discuss your diagnoses and initiate management). Both electives had a myriad of opportunities for extra learning from attending weekly rounds with international guest speakers to group teaching sessions held for the students.

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As Canada and Australia share many cultural similarities it was easy to integrate into their system of care and participate in activities outside of the hospital. Despite the chilly weather, the warm company and the opportunities available for hands-on learning made this a truly memorable experience.


Christina Chang – a medical student from Sydney Medical School undertook a placement with McMaster University

"My rural family medicine elective back home gave me amazing learning opportunities and experiences (with much anticipated procedural skills - everything from ear wax flushing to skin excisions to pap smears) but most of all my supervisors offered the opportunity to work through the management of illnesses. Up until that point my brain basically stopped after history, exam, and differentials. I was now being seriously challenged with making decisions on investigations, medications and social aspects. My supervisors were highly seasoned general practitioners who also had hospital admitting privileges and it was great to see the follow through care from the GP to the hospital and back to the GP. It was also great to see how the long term relationships with the patients allowed for excellent individualized patient care but also the joy in conversing with what often seemed more like an old friend. The communication and practical aspects of this elective have helped me in everything I have done since.

I really fell in love with small-town Canadian culture. This is probably true of many rural practices but it was so wonderful to actually get to know the people in the community. My supervisor often treated entire extended families, even multiple generations. The town is greatly appreciative of physicians and the medical community is tightly knit and extremely supportive of each other. One of my favourite aspects is the welcoming and relaxed atmosphere. Doctors and staff were eager to have students over for dinner and a well respected retired surgeon in the local area even invited students and junior doctors to his farm for a horse-drawn carriage ride. The -20°C weather is easy to deal with when there is great company combined with skiing, skating, and snowmobiles."



Jacquelyn Choi – a medical student from Sydney Medical School, undertook an elective at McMaster University in Canada in 2010–11

"Through my exchange with McMaster University, I was able to set up a rural family medicine rotation in my home country. I had my choice of neighbourhoods and specialities but my interest in family medicine and rural life led me to a rotation in Lindsay Ontario.

During my time here, I had the opportunity to experience the wide range of opportunities provided – everything from delivering babies to taking care of patients in the nursing homes. This longitudinal approach to patient care is what attracted me to family practice.

Having hospital privileges meant that my involvement in patient care did not end outside of the clinic doors. Every minute of my elective was fantastic from seeing patients in the office to gaining more experience in procedural skills and even midnight phone calls to the obstetrics department. The doctors in the community were so helpful and went out of their way to involve me in their practice. In rural general practice in particular, it was not usual to see entire families and multiple generations of extended family members or even the chefs and ex-chefs of the restaurants you visited. The medical community was also very close-knit and supportive of each other.

Learning from eager teachers in such a wonderful atmosphere made the -30-40oC and over 30cm of snowfall much more bearable. I had a great experience in my elective through McMaster and it was a great way to gain clinical experience in Canada.''