3rd year program alternatives

3rd Year looks like hell. My friends walk around like zombies – tired, stressed and with a hunger for brains knowledge that can’t be satisfied. All of my close friends from 3rd year chose to do their year through the traditional larger, tertiary care, teaching hospitals. There is an alternative that I have known about for some time but which I have never really considered. The alternative 3rd year program is offered through a smaller community hospital, located a good 2 hours from the larger city. This has never been a consideration in the past because it would mean that I would have to relocate myself away from family and friends to this smaller center for the next year. Now that third year is once again on the distant horizon I find myself weighing the pros and cons of completing the alternative 3rd year program.

Pros –

  • Smaller group of doctors that students work with
  • More chance of actually getting a meaningful reference to help with CARMs
  • More opportunity for focused learning
  • A much higher instructor to student ratio
  • More personal time to prep for exams?
  • Focus is on family med
    • Could be a good thing because practicing family medicine in a smaller center is actually of interest to me.


  • Distance from friends and family
    • Still a large concern and would mean additional costs.
  • Focus is primarily on family medicine
    • Could be a bad thing because I still haven’t quite decided that this is what I want to do, and my exposure to family medicine thus far has not all been positive.
  • Limited exposure to medical specialties / rare cases
    • How much do you actually see as a third year student?
    • No exposure to the traditional CTU set-up, as all complex cases are transfered to the larger hospital setting.
    • Less exposure to internal medicine than one would receive at a tertiary care center
  • Exam time prep may be problematic
    • Because of less exposure to different cases / specialties

From what I have seen and what I have heard is that this program is great, that is to say if you’re interested in practicing as a generalist when you’re done (which I think I am). Regardless, I intend to apply and to see if I will at least have the opportunity to participate.


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