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Academic Half-Day

McMaster’s Family Medicine Academic Half-Day Program is designed to supplement the clinical experiences obtained during rotations and cover those priority topics which residents may not otherwise learn about during their residency.  These sessions take place every Wednesday morning when the resident is on their Family Medicine rotation and they are offered locally at their Family Medicine home base or through videoconferencing from the central hub.


Block 7 (Family Medicine/Academic Rotation)

This block will occur in both years during Block 7 (mid-December to mid-January) and is comprised of  two days of academic teaching in Hamilton for all residents and  two days at each resident’s home base site.  Sessions include practice management, procedural skills and other academic topics.  The remainder of the rotation will be comprised of the PAIRO holiday break and additional clinical Family Medicine centred experience.


Care of the Elderly Rotation

Development of skills in the Care of the Elderly is integrated throughout residency in both Family Medicine and specialty settings.  Second year residents complete the equivalent of a one block Geriatric rotation based with either a Geriatrician and/or a Family Physician with enhanced skills in care of the elderly.


Care of the Hospitalized Adult Rotation

Care of the Hospitalized Adult is an important complement to family medicine in that it provides broad experience in disease and disability in adult patients. All first year residents will complete eight weeks where the preceptors are family physicians or internists.  The resident has an opportunity to learn how to co-ordinate patient care around a wide variety of internal medicine problems.  Residents actively share responsibility for the assessment, management, and discharge of patients.


Core Medicine/Surgery

All residents complete two blocks in additional training in Core Medicine/Surgery.  This rotation is an excellent opportunity to gain experience in Family Medicine related fields.  Options include rotations in the ICU or CCU, Hospitalist, Palliative Care, and Oncology rotations, as well as Outpatient Surgery and Internal Medicine Clinics.



The elective program has two components:

  • Horizontal electives of one-half day per week during the full-time Family Medicine rotation. These electives are chosen by the residents and may be either academic or clinical.
  • Block (full-time) electives for two blocks in the second year. A great deal of flexibility is allowed here, permitting residents to tailor their educational experience to their current needs, future practice needs, or to areas of academic interest.
  • There are also opportunities to participate in international electives focusing on a fulsome global health experience.  Global health experiences are also available locally as we look at the special needs of our immigrant population, shelter health and other vulnerable populations.


Emergency Medicine Rotation

First year residents spend the equivalent of two blocks in the emergency room of a teaching hospital.  Each unit is staffed by emergency room physicians who are responsible for the resident's educational experience.  Although experiences may vary, all residents are given the responsibility and the necessary latitude to achieve two broad goals- the development of comfort in acute care situations and the development of practical procedural skills.


Evidence-Based Medicine

McMaster University is renowned for using Evidence-Based Medicine in practice. During the full-time Family Medicine block (for some sites) or throughout the academic year (at other sites), residents attend weekly tutorials to learn how to critically appraise the literature, and search for the best evidence in “real time” using the most efficient electronic resources.


Family Medicine Rotation

Each resident is assigned a family medicine supervisor who will function as their primary FM preceptor and advisor for the duration of the training program. Residents spend the equivalent of four blocks each year in this home base setting, as well as one half day back per week while on off-service rotations. There is also an additional Family Medicine/Academic Block assigned during Block 7 (mid-December to mid-January block) which will combine academic days both in Hamilton for all residents and at their home base site along with Family Medicine centred clinical work. This model promotes continuity and resident responsibility for patient care within a supportive learning environment.


Learning in Family Medicine extends beyond comprehensive care in the office setting.  Long term care and home visits, palliative care and obstetric and newborn care are also integrated into the Family Medicine rotation.


Integrated Rotations

Some sites provide integrated learning.  These are opportunities to combine your Family Medicine rotation with horizontal scheduling of relevant half-day rotations, shifts or clinics.  In Kitchener-Waterloo, these include pediatric psychiatry, newborn care, gynecological procedures and maternal/child care in the first year as well as chronic disease management and care of the elderly, with recurrent experiences in Long term Care, inpatient and outpatient Geriatrics, Heart Function Clinic, Family Medicine Neurology clinic and Family Medicine Dermatology clinic in the second year.  The Niagara program has a fully integrated first year combining Family Medicine with Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine for ten of the thirteen blocks.


Mental Health and Behavioural Science

McMaster’s Family Medicine Program has developed this horizontal program to replace the traditional psychiatry rotation. It is a tutorial and case-based program, facilitated by family medicine, psychiatry and social work faculty members. You will work with a group of your peers throughout the two-year program.  In addition, there is a series of large group seminars which cover core psychiatry and psychopharmacology topics as well as a focus on the patient-centred interview, counseling techniques, professionalism and an opportunity to explore personal and professional development through residency.


Obstetrics and Gynecology Rotation

All residents spend the equivalent of two blocks in their first year in Obstetrics and Gynecology.  This experience varies by site and includes inpatient care and deliveries at a teaching hospital which is complemented by office obstetrics and gynecology which occur in the family practice settings.

Pediatric Medicine Rotation (Care of Children)

Residents will experience pediatrics in a variety of settings during their residency training.  This rotation gives residents exposure to both inpatient and outpatient pediatrics.  

Residents will have exposure to:

  • Inpatient pediatrics, both common short stay problems, as well as more complex care patients; pediatric psychiatry and developmental pediatrics; normal newborn level 2 nursery and attendance when required in labour and delivery and; outpatient emergency assessment and care.
  • The experience of newborn and infants provides good exposure to common problems of the neonate, and the opportunity to learn neonate resuscitation. All residents will have the opportunity to become certified in neonatal resuscitation as part of their residency program.


The experience of newborn and infants provides good exposure to common problems of the neonate, and the opportunity to learn neonate resuscitation. All residents will have the opportunity to become certified in neonatal resuscitation as part of their residency program.


Practice Management

These sessions are included as part of the Academic Half-Day Program and are designed to prepare residents for the business of managing their career.  Topics include Transition to Practice, Locum Contracts, CPSO/Licensing, and Introductory and Advanced Billing as well as Financial Planning and Taxation.


Procedural Skills

An approach to procedure skills is a mandatory discipline all family physicians will have developed by the end of their residency training.  Procedural Skills training is provided during the Family Medicine/Academic Block for all residents in addition to the practice opportunities offered in each rotation.


Quality Assurance

Each resident will complete a Quality Assurance or scholarly research project during their residency.  This experience is designed to prepare residents to assess their own skills, knowledge and their practices through practice audit and other QA activities.  Although the residents are given significant flexibility in identifying a topic area of interest and a research question, the topic is discussed with and approved by the site QA tutor and must have a strong rationale (i.e. the inquiry should have clinical/health services/policy importance) and be relevant to Family Medicine.


Residency Practice Based Small Group (PBSG) Learning Program

Each resident will take part in PBSG learning regularly during their residency.  This program is designed to give residents the opportunity to define and engage in learning activities that are more self-directed and related to authentic practice problems working through a series of practice topic modules. The modules provide scientific data formatted into a practical educational framework.


Rural Family Medicine Rotation

All residents complete two blocks in a Rural Family Medicine rotation during their second year (in addition to their primary FM placement).  This rural/under-serviced community experience provides an opportunity for the resident to experience family medicine in a contrasting setting to their regular placement.  This rotation is available in a number of rural/under-serviced communities in Southern and Northern Ontario.


Second year residents interested in enhancing their rural training can apply to extend this placement to four blocks, and spend only two blocks in their home base practice.



During the second year, residents have the opportunity to obtain a one-block enrichment experience in one of the major disciplines - Medicine, Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Surgery, Psychiatry, Family Medicine and Palliative Care. This may also be taken in sub-specialties of these major disciplines (e.g. Orthopedics, Plastics).


Residents may also choose from rotations and learning options that are routed in Family Medicine including Community Family Medicine and Public Health, Sports Medicine and Dermatology.