COVID-19 required Canadian medical schools to quickly adapt to the repercussions for both medical students and residents seeking entry and subspecialty residency positions. Similarly, residency programs had to adapt to a very different process of selecting candidates for their programs.
Throughout the Spring of 2020, the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC) Residency Matching Committee (ARMC) convened working groups to address a compressed CaRMS timeline, the challenge of virtual interviews and virtual program promotion and applications and file review. PGME at the University of Toronto is well represented on the ARMC by Dr. Glen Bandiera as PG Dean and Caroline Abrahams as a representative for national PG Managers.
As a result of the national efforts, key changes were made to CaRMS processes including: virtual interviews only for the Fall 2020 Medical Subspecialty, Pediatric Subspecialty and Family Medicine -Enhanced Skills CaRMS matches; a delayed and compressed 2021 PGY1 match which begins for residency programs with file review starting February 8th and a first iteration match day on April 20th, online tools for programs to promote their events and features to candidates and more national standardization and structure of key documents used to assess suitability of applicants for programs.
PGME is supporting our residency programs during this challenging time by continuing to offer our Best Practices on Application and Selection workshops with updated content to assist programs with strategies and techniques in this unique environment. In addition, we are providing support and training for program selection committees to ensure they are attentive to equity, diversity and inclusion principles and that members are aware of conflict of interest guidelines and declarations.
The PGME and MD programs also adapted their upcoming accreditation visits to fit with the current COVID-19 restrictions. Both visits this Fall were held virtually. The PGME accreditation visit was conducted by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and the College of Family Physicians of Canada from Sunday, November 22nd to Friday December 4th. The visit was extended to two weeks long to accommodate the new virtual format. PGME programs and committees were busy preparing documents and over 100 different schedules as all active programs (residency and AFC) and the PG institution were reviewed during this two-week period. We are confident that our programs and institution put their best foot forward as they took part in this continuous improvement process.