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May 25, 2018

The MCC informs its stakeholders — and listens to them as well 

The annual Canadian Conference on Medical Education, held in Halifax April 28 to May 1, provided a unique opportunity for the Medical Council of Canada (MCC) to tell its partners, faculty and students about the many roles it plays, and to hear from stakeholders.

The MCC held a packed business session (see Spreading the word about this year’s exam changes), set up an exhibit booth, and displayed a poster to tell the next generation of physicians about the MCC. The MCC staff hosted workshops and presentations, and one MCC researcher also shared her award-winning research on an issue affecting Canada’s physician supply.

Reaching out

The MCC staff spoke with the many participants who visited our booth, said Ms. Stephanie Roy, Team Leader of Communications for the MCC. About 60 per cent were students, with the central theme of the questions focusing on the new Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examinations.

Students were attracted by the interactive portal, and staff explained in more detail the Blueprint that the exams are now based on. Ms. Roy said the conference provided a great opportunity to talk to students before they start studying for the exam in future years.

Conference participants also learned more about the five partner organizations that founded the annual conference through large informative posters that helped orient attendees to the roles of these key organizations in the Canadian medical landscape.

Research Discovery

Many physicians who wish to practise in Canada come from other countries, but a large number are Canadians who study abroad and then return. For a long time, the MCC’s estimates of these physicians had been low. “Anecdotally, we did know the true number was higher, but we were surprised how much higher,” explains Ms. Ilona Bartman, Medical Education Research Associate in the MCC’s Office of the CEO.

Her research to establish the extent of this phenomenon was presented in poster form at the conference. Just before the conference, she had presented her research findings at the University of Ottawa’s Meridith Marks Day for Research and Innovation in Medical Education, garnering a “best presentation” award.

Bartman looked at differences in rates of Canadians studying medicine abroad between the MCC and a US organization collecting similar data. She found that the US numbers were much higher, and they asked the question in a different way. Whereas the MCC was asking medical school graduates about the country where they were born, the US data were based on their citizenship when they entered medical school. That question captured those born elsewhere who came to Canada as children or youth, went abroad to study, and then wished to practise in Canada. As a result, in 2016, the MCC changed its question posed to those taking the Medical Council of Canada Evaluating Examination (MCCEE) and the National Assessment Collaboration (NAC) Examination.

“The number of Canadians studying abroad increased by one-third for the MCCEE, and by even more for the NAC exam,” said Ms. Bartman.

She said this finding has implications for the MCC’s planning. “This enables us to better understand our exam cohort. We can design better methodologies around our examinations. And we can forecast more accurately the future number of candidates.”