McMaster University

McMaster University

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - RADIOLOGY at MCMASTER

Radiology at McMaster:

What will I learn as a resident?

  • You will learn a wide variety of skills in order to become a competent radiologist, able to work both in an academic centre and in the community.
  • You will gain the knowledge required to interpret the spectrum of pathology you will encounter in clinical practice.
  • You will be exposed to a large and varied case load with which to practice your detection skills and search pattern.
  • You will be given the chance to learn how to produce imaging studies, as well as conduct interventional procedures safely and effectively.
  • In addition to skills and knowledge required for the interpretation of studies or the successful completion of procedures, you will learn the basic skills and "how-to" knowledge required to run a practice and be a positive contributor to a radiology group and academic centre.
  • You will be guided through research in radiology in order to be a contributor to the field in the future.
  • You will be given ample opportunity to teach medical students as well as other residents, through both cases and lectures on selected topics. This ensures the development of effective teaching skills for post graduation.

What is the atmosphere/morale like? Do the residents like the program? How do the residents socialize? What social events does the program organize?

  • Our group of residents is known as one of the most positive and congenial group of residents in the country.
  • Our residents come from a variety of backgrounds, but all share in common a good work ethic and value supporting one another.
  • Their personalities are varied, and yet positive attitude abounds - laughter is a constant at rounds and at Academic Half-Day!
  • The residents teach each other about various topics and constantly share interesting cases with each other.
  • The residents also socialize outside the workplace, whether at the many program-run events, or through informal gatherings for movies nights or a night out on the town.
  • In the infrequent event that conflict arises, there is ample support from the Program Director as well as the other residents to help resolve the situation and maintain the program atmosphere that the residents have come to love.
  • Of course, with such a fun, supportive learning environment around them and amazing peers and teachers to work with, the residents love the program!
  • Finally, the radiologists are very supportive, eager to teach and very engaged in our education, taking time out after hours to do mock oral exams with the PGY5s and doing extra rounds on top of the daily hot-seat rounds on certain rotations. The radiologists are friendly, joke around with the residents and make us feel welcome on our rotations.
  • Program organized social events:
    • i. Program Director's Welcome BBQ in the summer
    • ii. Site-specific Christmas parties
    • iii. Golf Day
    • iv. Career Night
    • v. Post-OSCE decompression (local pub after our bi-annual OSCE)

What are the staff radiologists like?

  • The radiologists are very friendly and eager to teach.
  • The radiologists are very knowledgeable and almost all are fellowship trained, some even have dual-fellowships.
  • It's easy to get along with them and form good working relationships. You'll find that pretty much all of them have a great sense of humour!
  • They help us on call without complaint when we call for assistance, even in the middle of the night.
  • They are accommodating to our needs - educational and personal.
  • Many staff go out of their way to assist the PGY5 residents with Royal College examination preparation, including coming in early or staying late after work, in order to review cases or review important material.

What is teaching like?

  • Most of our teaching comes from daily "hot-seat" rounds, a mixture of didactic lectures and cases during Academic Half-Day and staff teaching around cases on resident rotations.
  • Topics are relevant to material required for Royal College exam preparation and preparation for a career as a practicing radiologist.
  • Teaching is also supplemented by senior residents when preparing PGY2s for call, or for additional cases at the end of our Academic Half-Days.

Will I have support?

  • Daily support through the program:
    • i. Our program director is available to help residents. He is very approachable and friendly and is always willing to help us deal with any issues that arise during our training. This assists in helping us resolve conflicts.
    • ii. Our radiologists are very accommodating and flexible. If you need time off for vacation, this is usually not a problem, if your request is timely and reasonable. If you need part of the day off for an appointment, this is usually also easy to accommodate.
  • Residency Program Committee (RPC)
    • i. The RPC is composed of radiologists from each training site, 2 elected RPC resident members, as well as the 2 chief residents and our Program Director
    • ii. This committee meets regularly to discuss a variety of program issues. These are brought to the committee's attention through both the radiologist and resident members on the committee.
    • iii. Action plans are decided upon and minutes from each meeting outline in detail what was discussed and what will be done about each item. These minutes are E-mailed to the entire resident body and all radiologists, which means that everyone is aware of what the current issues and action plans are.
    • iv. All residents are free to bring issues to the attention of the RPC by contacting any of its members.
  • Support on call
    • i. We have ample amounts of support on call. You are always on call with a staff radiologist and they will support you if you contact them for assistance while on call.
    • ii. Another source of support on call is the second resident at the call center. If you are unsure about something (but don't feel the need to call your staff), you can run it by your fellow on-call resident (often more senior resident), who may have seen a particular finding/ case before on-call.

Why do radiology at McMaster? What distinguishes the program from others?

  • There is a definite positive vibe here, with a strong program focused on resident education.
  • The other factor is that people enjoy work and working together - it makes for an excellent combination!
  • There is a tremendous close knit feeling, even though we are a moderate sized program.
  • As its distinguishing feature, McMaster's program offers balance and an unwillingness to rest on its laurels. In all respects, it is an excellent training program that continually self-evaluates and strives to improve any identified issues or areas of weakness. The program, committee and faculty recognize the program's strengths, but are constantly looking to make things even better.

Why should I choose Mac? There are lots of reasons:

  • The imaging resources, referral population and case volume for an excellent training program are all available here
  • The staff to resident ratio is favourable to residents. You get exposed to a large number of specialists.
  • The close knit feeling.
  • Exposure to fellows, which can add to your education, but not so much that you feel you are always competing for cases.
  • There is excellent opportunity for high exposure to "hands-on" interventional training, both vascular and non-vascular - you can get involved as much as you want, even beyond our standard 3 month IR block.
  • We attend TSCH for a 3-month rotation in PGY 4
  • Excellent medical physics course
  • Keen, enthusiastic Program Director & supportive Residency Program Committee
  • McMaster University is a leader in evidence-based medicine
  • Excellent pass rate at the Royal College exams

Why come to Hamilton?

  • Hamilton is situated in an excellent location, close to Toronto and Niagara region
  • The cost of living is reasonable - many residents can afford to purchase a home or condo during residency.
  • There are also a number of nice suburban communities surrounding Hamilton, including Ancaster, Burlington and Oakville.
  • The city is actually a very green city, despite its steel town image, close to the beautiful Niagara escarpment & Dundas Valley Conservation area. These both make for great regional hiking and biking trails.
  • Many residents matched to our program from elsewhere are pleasantly surprised by how much they like living in the area.
  • Great restaurants, with a multicultural flavour
  • Over 100 area golf courses, within a one hour drive. The golf around the Hamilton area is priced very reasonably priced - much more competitive rates than a drive east along the highway!

What is the academic curriculum like?

  • Daily case-based "hot seat" rounds at each hospital site
  • Weekly academic half-days
  • Site-specific interdisciplinary imaging rounds (i.e.: Bone tumour rounds, Breast rounds, Hepatobiliary rounds etc)
  • Visiting Professor Lecture Series (minimum 4 per year, often many more - they are usually excellent well-known international faculty)
  • Career Day: Informal dinner with panel discussion on how to prepare for a career in radiology. Topics include fellowships and academic vs. community practice.
  • Radiology Research Day: During this the residents and fellows present projects they have been working on to a panel of judges and their peers.
  • Bi-annual Physics Course
  • Resident Evaluations:
    • i. Monthly at the end of every rotation by your supervisor
    • ii. Bi-annually with the Program Director to review progress, discuss personal goals and career planning as well as any issues other important or personal issues.
    • iii. Bi-Annual OSCE (PGY 2-5)
    • iv. Annual Mock Oral Examination (PGY 3-5)
    • v. Individual Mock Orals: Provided through informal arrangements between staff and residents in the final year.
  • Annual Review Courses and Conferences
    • i. Some of the more popular ones our residents attend regularly are:
      1. RSNA (Chicago)
      2. Ottawa Review Course (Spring of PGY5 year)
      3. Duke Radiology Review Course (typically Spring of PGY4 year)
  • For more detailed information, please see the Calendar of Scholarly Activities

How many hours should I expect to read or study per week?

  • In our program, the expectation is that we read 10 hours per week. It may not sound like a lot, but it is hard to keep up with! It takes dedication and personal organization.

How are you prepared for taking on call responsibilities?

  • The Academic Half-Day Program during the summer is geared towards being on call and dubbed "The Summer On-Call Lecture Series." Senior residents train the juniors on topics including Head CT, Trauma, US, etc and supplement their lectures with "hot-seat" type cases for the new PGY2s. This assists with starting to learn how to make decisions about diagnoses under pressure.
  • During July and August of your PGY2 year, you are also doing your "Intro Rotations." These are short 1 or 2 week rotations in various areas like CT, chest, neuro etc to help prime you for these areas as you dive deeper into them on subsequent full rotations, as well as on call.
  • There are three phases of buddy call at McMaster, that commence in the June of your PGY1 year
    • i. From June to August, you are paired up with different senior residents for about 4 - 5 calls per month. The senior resident is officially on first call. You are there as an observer. You don't have to stay the whole night, but it is recommended to stay at least for 3 hours. During this time you learn the ropes - how to deal with the pager (rings off the hook sometimes!), take and triage imaging requests, communicate with the technologists and deal with administrative issues. You will also learn some important basics of on call CT and US during cases-by-case teaching from the senior residents. Toward the end of this period (usually mid July to August), you start taking the pager and try to deal with taking first call, while the senior is by your side in the department, immediately available to assist you.
    • ii. All PGY2 residents must pass a Pre-Call OSCE in order to be on call.
    • iii. From September to early November of PGY2, you participate in call which is designed along a Junior/Senior resident or Team Call model. During this time, the PGY 2 is gradually encouraged to take on more and more responsibility and case volume, under the immediate guidance of the senior.
      1. You are officially on call. A senior is paired up with you and can answer any immediate questions or assist you as needed. You make an initial interpretation and then "double read" all your cases with the senior.
      2. In addition to the senior, you both have your staff available to you by pager as well.
    • iv. In November/December, you graduate in to a "Paired Call" week day evening model, whereby the PGY 2 is paired with a senior resident who is taking "home call". All cases up until 11 pm are double read with the senior resident. Typically this will be done at designated times during the evening (for instance 8 and 11 pm). The senior is always available to you and will come in if case volume or circumstances are appropriate. After 11 pm, the PGY 2 is usually able to make their own interpretations, but is encourage to contact their senior with any questions. There is also a resident on call at the other site, as well as staff back up for the paired residents, so residents feel very supported during this time. There are typically between 3 and 5 of these "Paired Calls" before solo call starts.
    • v. Once December/January rolls around, you are doing your first truly independent calls as a PGY 2. Staff support is always there. The schedule is also arranged so that for your first few solo calls, a senior is on call at the other site, if you need help or minor guidance before you call your staff.
    • vi. After this 6 - 7 month transition period, you are included on the call schedule like any other resident in the program. With the graduated phases of buddy call to solo call, along with the Summer On Call lecture series and intro rotations, residents feel prepared to take this next step. You have acquired the skills and knowledge to successfully rise to this challenge!
    • vii. Being on call for radiology can be trying at times, but the residents all agree the preparation for this at McMaster is about as good as it can possibly get!

How do the residents perform on board and Royal College exams?

  • We have a very competitive and strong pass rate for the board exams. You are well prepared for this examination in our program.

Where do the residents live?

  • The residents live in a variety of locations.
  • Hamilton and surrounding areas
    • i. Most of our residents live within Hamilton, close to the hospitals
    • ii. Residents also live in smaller surrounding communities, such as Ancaster and Mount Hope
  • Burlington and Oakville
    • i. Many residents and staff live in Burlington and Oakville. The commute during rush hour is very manageable, as the rush is going the other way. From Third Line to most of the hospitals, it is a 25 min drive, door to door if traveling at the speed of the rest of traffic.
  • Mississauga, Guelph, Cambridge
    • i. A handful of our residents have lived as far away as these locations. Commuting from further can be challenging, as this involves heavier traffic, loss of significant time spent commuting (when could be with family or reading!), as well as more weather-related travel issues.

What are potential future changes in the program?

  • Rotation redistribution
    • i. Due to the restructuring of HHS with MUMC conversion to a purely pediatric in-patient centre, some of our rotations have be relocated from one hospital to another. We do have the advantage of 4 teaching hospital sites. Our training committee does not feel this will have a negative or significant impact on our rotations.
  • On-call
    • i. As the demand for imaging increases in the future, our on-call duties may change as well. No concrete plans are in place for how this may change but it is an issue that our program is constantly aware of.
    • ii. Duty hour restrictions are currently being discussed at the University / postgraduate level and will reflect recommendations from the Royal College.

Where do residents end up after graduation? Do residents come back to Hamilton hospitals to work? How many do fellowships and how many don't?

  • Residents have found jobs in a roughly even mix of academic and community settings. Many have returned to work in the teaching hospitals in Hamilton, while others have spread out over Ontario, out West and to the East Coast. You can see the list of our past graduates and where they are now working. Resident Alumni
  • In general, most of our residents participate in a fellowship year, or at least 5 of the 6 graduates. They have done fellowships all over North America, including major US medical centres, as well as locally and in other centres across Canada.

What fellowship positions are offered at McMaster?

  • There are a number of different fellowships available at McMaster, including the Hamilton Health Sciences sites and St. Joseph's Healthcare. For a listing, please see our Fellowship section of this website.

What sort of interventional radiology exposure is there at McMaster?

  • All residents complete a 3 month Angio-Interventional rotation during PGY3.
  • This rotation spans 3 different sites which provides ample exposure to both routine procedures and highly subspecialized procedures, depending on the particular hospital you are at that month.
  • Residents who are interested in more procedures can seek these during elective months. In addition, many interventional procedures happen after hours. Interested residents can speak with the on-call staff or fellow, in order to get involved in these cases, if workload permits.

Applying to the McMaster Residency Program Through CARMS

  • The Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS) corporation works in close cooperation with medical schools and students to provide the following services: an electronic application service and a computer match for entry into postgraduate medical training.
  • Each year, most graduating Canadian medical school students participate in the First Iteration Match. Commencing for the 2007 residency positions, IMG applicants are eligible to apply for dedicated positions through CaRMS.  Please visit the CaRMS website and McMaster’s CaRMS program description to review details regarding eligibility and applicant selection criteria.
  • CaRMS provides an orderly way for applicants to decide where to train and for program directors to decide which applicants they wish to enroll in postgraduate medical training.
  • click here to visit the CARMS website
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