Evaluation of a pre-clerkship family medicine placement: does it influence Canadian medical students’ interest in pursuing family medicine?


  • Ajay Shah
  • Adi Gasner McMaster University
  • Alessandra Palombo


Introduction: Achieving a sustainable workforce in family medicine (FM) requires 50-53% of Canadian medical students to apply. However, in 2020, only 32.4% ranked FM first. Increasing FM exposure during pre-clerkship is one strategy to boost interest in the specialty. In this context, McMaster University created the Family Medicine Experience (FME) for early clinical exposure. This mixed-methods study aims to evaluate the FME’s influence on students’ interest in pursuing FM.

Methods: Pre- and post-FME surveys and focus groups included pre-clerkship medical students as participants. The survey results were analyzed for relationships between demographic variables and change in FM ranking or likelihood for pursuing a career in FM. The focus groups were conducted after the FME and analyzed for common themes.

Results: The surveys showed that there was neither a significant difference (p>.05) in the proportion of students with FM as their top specialty, nor any change in the mean score for likelihood of pursuing FM as a career. The focus groups analysis revealed that although the FME improved attitudes and perceptions of FM, the students’ top specialty choice did not change. The FM+1 is an increasingly popular option for students and was the intended choice for most students interested in FM. Strategies including lunchtime panel sessions and workshops were suggested for FM promotion during pre-clerkship.

Discussion: A pre-clerkship FM placement does not influence the proportion of students with an intent to pursue FM.

Author Biographies

Ajay Shah

Ajay Shah is a first year Orthopaedic Surgery resident at the University of Toronto with research interests in medical education, quality improvement, and clinical excellence.

Adi Gasner, McMaster University

Adi Gasner is a third-year medical student at McMaster University. She has a keen interest in medical education and women's health

Alessandra Palombo

Dr. Alessandra Palombo is a family physician and assistant clinical professor with the McMaster University Department of Family Medicine. Her practice interests include women's health, home-based palliative and geriatric care, and medical education.






Original Research Article