Helpful Advice for a First Year Medical Student


If you’re about to head off for your first year of medical school, you’re probably a ball of emotions. Excitement, nervousness, and in some cases even fear can all leave you feeling apprehensive about your first year. Below, you will find some advice from physicians and surgeons about how to survive your first year as a medical student – and how to succeed in the process.

Medical School is a Very Important Job

If you convince yourself that medical school is exactly like an important job, you’re far more likely to succeed. Leaving class early to go to a friend’s birthday party or playing hooky because you were up too late are simply unacceptable as they can leave you too far behind in the material to catch up. Treating medical school like a job does require some discipline, so you’ll need to practice before it become second nature.

Get Access to Study Tools and Question Banks on the Very First Day

No matter which exam you’ll need to take at the end of your academic career, you will have a far better chance at success if you get all the tools and question banks you will need starting with the first day of medical school. The more familiar you become with the interface, the better off you will be. Look for customizable questions that you can sort by topic so you can stay up-to-speed with what is happening in the classroom, too.

Eat, Sleep, and Meditate

Medical students around the world do not get enough sleep, and most of them either don’t eat enough or eat too many things that aren’t very good for them. If you want your first year to be as simple as possible, eat a balanced diet, sleep at least seven or eight hours each night, and meditate or find some other way to disconnect your mind and relax. You might try yoga, mindfulness exercises, or a quiet hobby that takes your mind away from school for a while.

Don’t Forget to Have Some Fun

While there’s little doubt that medical school is hard – and we mean really hard at times – you can’t be the best version of yourself if you never get to have any fun. It’s important to balance things appropriately, so just as you make time for studying, you should also make time for fun. Get involved with a group on campus who shares similar interests or take up a hobby that you enjoy. If you’re going to school away from home, consider getting out to see the sights and explore new things.

Your first year as a medical student does not have to be fraught with fear and anxiety. For the most part, it’s all about your mindset and how you choose to approach each day. Looking at classes like a job, taking care of your body and mind, and preparing yourself for your medical licensing exam well in advance will go a long way toward making your experience as a first-year medical school a great one.

Just in! 2019 Rankings for Top Canadian Medical Schools!


The results for next year’s top Canadian medical schools to attend. After twelve years in the number one spot, McGill University is now sharing their top spot with the University of Toronto. If you’re a medical student looking for the right school below is your list.

The Rankings

The schools listed range in what exact programs they offer, but all are incredibly focused on research. This means that, although they are all top ranked schools, they may not all offer the same degrees or programs, thus making different schools better for different individuals.

Why It’s Important

This listing can give current and future medical school students an idea on what school to choose for their studies, or where their current schools fall in terms of education. Choosing a great medical school is essential to future physicians. Schools should be chosen based on a variety of factors, include:

  • A solid reputation in both the academic and medical fields
  • Great student support and experience
  • Diverse offering of degrees, including specialized study areas
  • Affordability, including the potential offering of scholarships, grants, and other tuition assistance programs

1/2: McGill University/University of Toronto

The top spot is a tie between these two universities. Last year, McGill University was in first place while Toronto was in second. The student satisfaction ratings were 14 and 13, respectively. Also respectively, the reputational survey ranked them at a three and a one.

3: University of British Columbia

UBC stayed in the third spot this year. They scored a seven in student satisfaction, and a two in reputation.

4: McMaster University

McMaster rose two spots from last year, when they ranked in sixth place. This year’s reputational survey scored them a four, and student satisfaction was ranked a four on average.

5: Queen’s University

Down one spot from last year, this university ranked a two in student satisfaction and a six in reputation.

6: Alberta University

This school also dropped one place this year. They were given an eight in student satisfaction and a five in reputation.

7: Dalhousie University

Dalhousie snuck up a spot from their eighth-place last year. Students gave a rating of ten, which is also the score given on reputation.

8: Western University

Down a spot from last year, Western University scored a six in student satisfaction and a seven in reputation.

9: Ottawa University

Ottawa holds tight to its number nine spot, staying stationary for a second year running. They were given a 15 in student satisfaction and a 12 in reputation.

10: Montreal University

Last year, Montreal was just out of the top ten at spot #11. A student satisfaction score of 5 and a reputation score of 8 allowed them to climb one spot to sit in the top ten.

Runners Up:

Although they didn’t make the top ten, a few schools came very close and should still be considered among the best medical schools Canada has to offer. Calgary and Laval University’s tied for eleventh place, quickly followed by Sherbrooke University. Another tie has Manitoba and Saskatchewan sitting at fourteenth.



What Every Medical Student Should Know about the USMLE


The USMLE, or United States Medical Licensing Examination, is by far one of the toughest examinations you will ever have to take. Learning as much about it as you can is important to helping you prepare, and with the right tools, you can truly succeed not only on test day, but all throughout your medical career. Here’s what every medical student should know about the USMLE.

There are Three Parts to the USMLE

The first thing you should know is that you will take the USMLE examination in four separate parts over the course of five days. There are three “Steps”, and the USMLE Step 2 is divided into two parts – clinical knowledge (CK) and clinical skills (CS).

  • Step 1: This is the multiple choice examination, and it takes place over the course of one day. You will answer questions on a computer about everything from nutrition and genetics to diseases and pathology.
  • Step 2: Step 2 is divided into two parts:
    • USMLE Step 2 CK – The CK part of Step 2 involves multiple-choice questions all about your knowledge of medicine in the clinical setting.
    • USMLE Step 2 CS – In this part of the exam, you will examine and diagnose a variety of actors based on their “symptoms” and histories.
  • Step 3: Finally, the USMLE Step 3 is a bit different in that you will take this after your first year of residency. Once again, you will be asked to diagnose and treat patients, make assessments based on virtual cases, and answer multiple choice questions.

You Need to Prepare Early On

The USMLE isn’t like any other test you have ever taken, and that means the earlier you start preparing for it, the better. Many students wait until the last six months prior to the exam, but those who start preparing earlier – even on the very first day of medical school – tend to fare better. One of the best ways to prepare for the USMLE is by utilizing a question bank filled with customizable features. By going over questions during your studies in a variety of different modes, you will not only reinforce the material you learn in class, but you will also familiarize yourself with the question formatting, which will help you feel more confident when test day comes.

Not Everyone Passes the First Time

Finally, it’s time to address the elephant in the room – what happens if you don’t pass. Each and every year, somewhere between 75% and 80% of those who take the USMLE pass it on the first try. That means 20% to 25% do not pass immediately and must take the exam again. Though this can be disheartening and certainly frustrating, you should never give up. Schedule the examination again as soon as possible, find a study group, and utilize your question banks as often as possible.

The USMLE is a difficult exam that puts tends of thousands of students on edge every single year. Understanding how it works, what you should do to prepare, and what to do if you don’t pass the first time will help to ease your anxiety, and that alone is often enough to enhance your chances of success. You absolutely can succeed as long as you are willing to put in the effort and study.

How Many Times Should You Take a Mock Exam before the Real Deal?


Mock exams are a part of life for medical students, and while these exams can seem boring or excessive, they actually play a very important role in your overall success. Below, you will learn more about the importance of mock exams and the number of times you should take them before the date of the real exam.

What is a Mock Exam?

A mock exam is a set of questions designed to look and feel like your real exam. The difference is that the score you get on a mock exam is of no matter and bears no consequence on your future career whereas your actual medical licensing examination does. A mock exam may be shorter than the real thing, or it may be roughly the same length. The closer the mock exam to the actual exam, the better prepared you will feel on exam day.

What are the Benefits of a Mock Exam?

There are many benefits associated with medical mock exams.

  • It provides a sense of urgency. Because up to 75% of students procrastinate, and because 50% of these students procrastinate to the point that it causes academic issues, mock exams are phenomenal for creating a sense of urgency and encouraging students to prepare.
  • Spacing out revision sessions improves memory and recall. Mock exams are great for reviewing content because they allow enough time for students to forget and then relearn that content, which improves memory and recall significantly.
  • Asking “why” improves recollection. Mock exams force students to ask themselves “why”; in other words, rather than simply reading a book, students who take mock exams must think critically. This makes them up to 50% more likely to recall information than students who do not take these exams at all.
  • It promotes success. Finally, a study on groups of students who took mock exams prior to final exams showed that students who took mock exams scored far higher than students who did not take them and studied in other ways, instead.

How Many Times Should You Take a Mock Exam?

This is a common question, and the truth is that there is no one universal answer. You should always take mock exams a minimum of three times to ensure that you have covered all your bases, but for most people, even more is better. Mock exams serve as a study aid rather than a guide to your preparedness to take the real exam, and if you find yourself panicking or missing questions on your mock exam, there’s a good chance you may feel the same way on test day. Continue to take mock exams until you are getting high scores and you feel comfortable with your outcomes.

Mock exams are a great way for medical students to prepare for their licensing exams, which are some of the most rigorous exams in the world. Taking high-quality tests regularly is a great way to measure your knowledge, learn new content, improve your memory, and even familiarize you with the exam that you will see on the big day.

Evolving AI Technology is Keeping Med Students from Pursuing Radiology


While most of the world agrees that breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (also known as simply ‘AI’) have made life considerably easier, there are a few drawbacks for certain individuals. One set of individuals who feel at a slight disadvantage are med students.

Reduction in Radiology Demand?

A great number of medical students are under the impression that new breakthroughs in AI have reduced the demand for radiologists. If ongoing trends are to be believed, these students say that demand will continue to drop, thus making radiology a very cut-throat field.

A recent study published in Academic Radiology says that the fear of an AI takeover (so to speak) has gone so far as to discourage some current students from even considering radiology as a possible concentration.

About the Survey

The survey was conducted among the students of seventeen different Canadian schools in March of 2018. Three hundred responses were recorded among the potential student pool, and two incredible statistics stood out.

First, 67% of all respondents stated that evolving AI would generally reduce the demand for radiologists. That’s more than half of people surveyed, which says quite a bit about what the next generation of medical professionals feel.

But that wasn’t even the craziest response. An incredible 29% of all respondents stated that they believed AI would replace the need for radiologists entirely. In other words, AI would replace radiology completely with no more need for an actual person anymore.

Some people were still considering radiology as a possible (or definite) concentration. Among only those who are still considering this career path, almost half of them said that evolving AI has made them feel anxious about their future.

Among those who no longer consider radiology a choice, 14% stated that it would be their top field choice were it not for ever-advancing AI in that particular field.

What the Survey’s Authors Had to Say

Bo Gong, the leading author of the survey, had this to say about the survey’s results: “Our study revealed considerable anxiety among medical students’ interest in radiology, caused by their perception of the impact of artificial intelligence… Such anxiety discouraged a significant number of medical students from considering a radiology specialty.”

The authors stated there are steps the current radiology community could take to help med students understand the true impact artificial intelligence may have on their chosen specialty. In fact, they went as far as to create a list of possible ways current radiologists could help students to understand more on this topic.

Yet despite anxiety regarding their future careers, most responding students did support the idea of collaboration with the IT industry to support the role of AI in radiology and in improving patient care across all medical sectors.

As for whether or not AI will replace radiology all together, most practitioners are doubtful. This isn’t to say it couldn’t happen far into the future, but for now AI is complementary to radiologists and do not displace the need for human care.


CanadaQBank Boasts Paid Subscribers from 176 of the World’s 195 Countries

CanadaQBank 176 Countries

Though CanadaQBank provides access to question banks covering medical licensing and placement exams in Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada, its reach is far broader. In fact, it boasts paid subscriptions from 176 of the world’s 195 recognized countries, which is a testament to its popularity and quality.

The 176th Country

Recently, a paid subscription from the east African country Somalia marked CanadaQBank’s 176th subscription from a unique country. Somalia is home to numerous world-famous individuals, including Iman, a supermodel who is also well-known for her marriage to rocker David Bowie; Barkhad Abdi, who broke into Hollywood with his role as a Somali pirate opposite Tom Hanks in the 2013 film Captain Phillips; and Mo Farah, a world-champion distance runner and Olympic competitor. Somalia is known for its abundance of trees producing frankincense and myrrh, and it is home to the remains of the beautiful Mogadishu Cathedral, which was 90% destroyed in 1991.

Why Students Choose CanadaQBank

Students from 176 countries continue to choose CanadaQBank for their medical test prep needs due to the abundance of features offered by the unique platform. Of these, the ability to switch between timed and tutor modes are by far the most popular. Timed mode allows students to answer questions in a predetermined amount of time to replicate the actual testing environment, but in tutor mode, students can work at their own pace to look up the answers to questions or immediately review the answers to questions they answer incorrectly. Question banks are available for numerous exams, including the MCCQE Part 1 and 2, AMC CAT, RCSFE, PLAB, SMLE, and USMLE Step 1 and 2.

Other CanadaQBank Features

Other features that make CanadaQBank popular among students around the world include:

  • My Questions and Notes – This feature allows students to move questions into their own designated virtual folders for later review. The Notes feature adds to this by allowing students to take their own notes regarding a particular question.
  • Varying Difficulty Levels – Students can choose from three difficulty levels when they start their sessions: Easy, Medium, or Hard.
  • Multimedia and Regular Questions – It is also possible to access multimedia multiple-choice questions that provide students with explanations of answers via video rather than text. This interactive learning experience continues to grow in popularity, and it has been proven highly effective.
  • Topics Mode – This feature allows students to select questions from one or more individual topics, which gives them the ability to focus their time where they need it most.
  • Performance Analysis – Finally, CanadaQBank gives students the ability to review their performance with standard deviation graphs showing their cumulative average scores and percentiles compared to other users. It is also possible to see improvement over time.

CanadaQBank continues to be a world leader in medical test prep question banks, and the recent paid subscription from Somalia is a testament to that. Their questions are among some of the best in the world and are written by people in the medical field. When paired with outstanding features and unsurpassed accessibility via phone, tablet, and computer, CanadaQBank hopes its groundbreaking global reach will continue to expand in the future.

Could Cannabis Education Become Core Curriculum for Future Medical Students?

Cannabis Education

Dr. Michael Verbora works at the Canabo Medical Clinic, located in midtown Toronto. He has been giving resident doctors from the nearby University of Toronto with the fundamentals of medicinal cannabis, so they can better care for those who rely heavily on the plant.

Becoming Familiar with Medicinal Marijuana

Doctor Verbora is also the chief medical officer for Aleafia – a medical cannabis company. When students come in to complete their residencies, they have a very limited (if any) education pertaining to the role of cannabis in the treatment and support of diseases. By the time they leave, however, they have a good understanding of:

  • The endocannabinoid system – how it works, what its role is in health and disease
  • The most appropriate way of consumption for medical cannabis, based on the disease or symptoms it is treating
  • The risks and benefits of treating individuals with medical marijuana
  • In what instances it is (or is not) appropriate to prescribe medical marijuana to a patient

Why This is Important

Education is always important, but it is especially so for physicians. The more a physician can know about a wide range of relevant topics, the better. Unfortunately, a great number of physicians do not currently understand how medicinal cannabis works nor how to effectively utilize it in the treatment of patients.

How the Issue is Getting Fixed

With widespread legality of cannabis for medicinal use, more doctors need to become knowledgeable on the subject. This is imperative for safe, practical use – as well as the potential advancement of research into what role cannabis plays in a wide variety of disease (like cancer, fibromyalgia, and Crohn’s Disease, for example).

There was such a gap in education surrounding this subject that the Canadian Federation of Medical Students (also known as the CFMS) have proposed that a new course covering a “longitudinal, evidence-based cannabis course” into all medical undergraduate programs across the country.

The paper states that there is a very large gap surrounding cannabis education. In fact, there are little to no courses currently available for those who would like to become more educated. What is learned is either through independent studies or residencies, like the one mentioned in the beginning of this article.

 Roadblocks and Controversy

Legalizing medicinal marijuana is not a new idea. Many states (US) and provinces (Canada) have allowed cannabis for medicinal usage for a number of years. Yet this has not fully dispelled the reputation of weed as a drug, as set about by the infamous “War on Drugs,” launched decades ago.

Due to misinformation in the decades since, many professionals and patients believe that marijuana is an “evil” substance of the likes of heroine or methamphetamines. Yet this isn’t true. While street weed may, indeed, be contaminated with other substances, marijuana itself is a very natural plant which is primarily non-harmful to humans. The slew of side effects seen in recreational usage are primarily attributed to a high THC content caused by cross-breeding programs exactly for those desired effects. Medicinal cannabis, on the other hand, leans towards a higher CBD content which does not produce as many – or any – unnecessary side effects.

The 5 Best Medical Test Taking Tips for 2019

Taking Medical Exam

Preparing for an exam is one thing, but actually preparing yourself to sit down and take one of the most intense exams you’ll ever take in your life is something else entirely. Here, you’ll learn five of the best tips from the experts for taking medical exams like a pro.

#1 – Maximize Your Study Time

Making your test day the best it can be all starts with studying. Make sure that you start studying for your exam early on, and to get the most out of your time, use programs and tools that allow you to take mock exams and review your incorrect answers. Not only does this help get you in the right frame of mind for answering the questions on the actual medical exam, but it also puts the information you need most in front of you and helps to ensure your overall success on the real test.

#2 – Get Plenty of Rest the Night Before

Though it may seem beneficial to stay up late and study the things that have been giving you trouble, getting a good night’s sleep is even more important. In fact, studies have proven that better sleep improves academic success. By staying up late and getting fewer than seven to nine hours of sleep, your mind will not be as clear as it could be on test day, which can lead to reading comprehension issues and silly mistakes you may not otherwise make.

#3 – Eat a Good Breakfast (and Plan a Good Lunch)

Food is fuel for the body and the mind, so even if you’re feeling butterflies in your stomach, make sure you eat a well-balanced breakfast. Ideally, it should contain an excellent source of protein such as meat or Greek yogurt, and it should also contain a good source of complex carbohydrates that will help keep you satisfied and energetic until lunch. If your test lasts several hours and you will have a lunch break between, be sure to pack a meal that closely mimics breakfast. Fast food can be tempting, but a balanced meal is far better for your brain.

#4 – Wake Up Early to Prepare

Another excellent tip involves waking yourself up early the day of the test and taking your time to prepare. Rather than giving yourself an hour to get dressed, eat, and travel to the testing area, try to give yourself two or even three. Plan what you’ll eat for breakfast the night before, and perhaps lay out what you will wear before you go to bed, too. This will help reduce the number of decisions you have to make in the morning and may aid your overall focus.

#5 – One Question at a Time

When faced with an important exam, many people feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of questions they must answer in the allotted time. Rather than allowing yourself to stress out and start reading ahead, focus on the question in front of you until you have the right answer. By giving the question or problem on the screen all of your undivided attention, the odds of making a mistake or getting the wrong answer are much, much lower.

Many of the best test-taking tips for 2019 involve the time leading up to the test rather than the test itself. After all, the things you do before the exam will have the biggest impact. Be sure that you’re as prepared as you can be, and make sure that you take care of your body and mind, too. These things will keep your brain sharp and allow you to perform much better on test day.


How Much do Canadian Doctors Earn in a Year?

canadian doctors

Across Canada, the doctor-to-patient ratio has been on the rise since 2011. As of 2015, there were roughly 228 doctors per 100,000 people in the nation. Doctors in Canada earn a handsome living, as well; as of 2018, Canadian doctors earned an average of $307,482 a year. Of course, these earnings vary by specialization, and more importantly, by province.

British Columbia

In British Columbia (BC), the government releases a document each year called the Blue Book that shows the amount of money different specific types of physicians earn based on their specializations. Many doctors in BC earn less than the national average for all specializations, and the average family doctor here earns roughly $273,000 a year.


Alberta is one of the better Canadian provinces for anyone interested in working as a physician. It boasts the highest salary for physicians at an average of $384,380 a year. This is well above the national average – and it’s much higher than the other provinces, too. This could by why Alberta’s doctor population is growing more quickly than that of many other provinces.


The government in Saskatchewan has a little more control over physician earnings, and they cap the amount doctors can charge for services that insurance companies cover. This means that physicians are limited, but they still earn a handsome salary of $288,995 a year.


Doctors in Manitoba are considered public sector employees, and they are required by law to report their earnings to the public every year. The highest paid doctor in the province is an ER physician who earns $680,000 annually, but the average annual salary for all doctors in Manitoba is much lower at $354,705.


Ontario is a highly populated province, but despite this – and despite the limitations placed on medical charges by other provincial governments – these caps do not exist in Ontario. The average doctor here earns right at $360,000 annually, which is slightly more than the national average.  It should be noted that Ontario doctors are not required to disclose their earnings.


Doctors in Quebec earn salaries in line with the national average at $325,000 a year, but many feel as if they earn far too much and would like to see part of their salaries appropriated to other areas of the healthcare system in general. Specialists and surgeons earn quite a bit more than general practitioners in Quebec, too.

New Brunswick

Doctors in New Brunswick earn salaries that closely compete with the national average at right around $302,123 a year. This average is much lower than some other provinces, but they still live quite comfortably. Startlingly, more than two dozen doctors across the province earn more than $1 million each year – likely specialists and surgeons.

Nova Scotia

Doctors in Nova Scotia earn well below the country’s national average at just $259,368 a year. Though this is a handsome salary when compared to many other professions, doctors here have expressed their desire to work in other parts of the country for the higher salaries, and many say they would move if they were not already important community figures.

Prince Edward Island

Doctors’ salaries on Prince Edward Island are very similar to those of doctors in New Brunswick. Doctors here earn an average of $305,091 a year. Prince Edward Island is unique in that doctors can simply work more hours via the fee-for-service method – essentially charging for every individual service provided – and earn far more. Many who do earn well over $1 million a year. In fact, one ophthalmologist earned $1.4 million in a single year.


Newfoundland is right behind Nova Scotia, which has the lowest average salary for doctors in Canada, at $269,646. In the last few years, doctors in Newfoundland have petitioned the government for higher pay, claiming that they earn far too little to cover their costs and employees while still living comfortably.

Keep in mind that these numbers are averages across all specializations and fields of medicine. Though some doctors in Canada do especially well for themselves – especially in higher-paying provinces – others struggle to pay their staff and cover their expenses. Just as some doctors are earning well over $1 million each year (such as that incredibly successful eye doctor), others earn well below the average, too.


Why the MCATs Are So Important for Medical Students

Canadian Medical Students

MCAT stands for the “Medical College Admission Test,” and it’s a major milestone for all premed students. In fact, it can be argued that it is one of the most important (and difficult) exams potential medical school students will ever take. But why is this test so important?

Why the MCAT Matters So Much

The MCAT is the first step in medical school. After a traditional four-year college program in premed, students must pass the MCAT to obtain entrance into medical school. If a student fails their MCAT they will probably not be accepted into any reputable medical school, and their hard work up to that point will be for naught. But why is this single test so very important?

The answer to this question lays within the test’s ability to predict the future, so to speak. Studies have proven that a student’s ability to perform well on the MCAT correlates with their performance on the all-important USMLE.

The USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination) is a three-part test which must be taken to receive licensing, prior to obtaining a doctorate. The parts are broken down into steps, and are as follows:

  • Step One: Typically taken after the second year of medical school. This first step assesses basic understanding and application of important concepts regarding basic science and the practice of medicine – including underlying health, modes of therapy, and disease.
  • Step Two: Typically taken in the fourth year of medical school. This second step assess the ability to apply the knowledge and skills accumulated during schooling, with special emphasis placed on physical patient care.
  • Step Three: Typically taken during an internship or during the first year of residency. It is the culmination of everything learned, from book knowledge to patient care and beyond. This final step will also test a student’s knowledge on laws and regulations as it pertains to physicians and patient care.

Keeping this study in mind will make it clear why medical schools place such an emphasis on it. If performance on the MCAT directly correlates to the USMLE, and the USMLE is the most important test towards graduation, then schools who wish to ensure a high graduation rate will want students who have proven they can do well.

Other Variables

The good news is that the MCAT is not the only indicator of how well a student will do on the USMLE. While it definitely factors in, there are a number of other variables which will influence a student’s final score. These might include:

  • What type of test-taker a student is. Those who are naturally better at taking tests will obviously do better than those who do not.
  • How well a student prepares through studying in the days, weeks, and months prior to the examination.
  • How dedicated a student has been in their studies. Those who are more attentive in class and hold higher grades tend towards doing better than those who slack or do not pay attention.