What is Public Health and Preventive Medicine?
How does a medical student become a Specialist in Public Health and Preventive Medicine?
What do residents do during their five years of training?
What types of jobs do people get after specializing in Public Health and Preventive Medicine?
Do Public Health and Preventive Medicine specialists do clinical work?
Where are the Public Health and Preventive Medicine Residency Programs in Canada?
How can I find out if Public Health and Preventive Medicine is the right specialty for me?
Contact Information

What is Public Health and Preventive Medicine?

Public Health and Preventive Medicine specialists have populations rather than individual people as their patients. They assess and measure the health status of the population and develop effective interventions at the population level in order to improve health. They are leaders, advocates, and collaborators in public health.

More specifically, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada states: “Community Medicine is the branch of medicine concerned with the health of populations. The Community Medicine specialist uses population health knowledge and skills to play leading and collaborative roles in the maintenance and improvement of the health and well-being of the community. Through inter-disciplinary and inter-sectoral partnerships, the Community Medicine specialist measures the health needs of populations and develops strategies for improving health and well-being, through health promotion, disease prevention and health protection… The Community Medicine specialist demonstrates skills in leadership; development of public policy; design, implementation and evaluation of health programs and applies them to a broad range of community health issues.”

How does a medical student become a Specialist in Community Medicine?

Canadian medical students can apply to a five year Royal College residency program through the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS): www.carms.ca. There are also opportunities in some provinces to apply to Community Medicine programs through re-entry or transfer. Internationally trained physicians can also apply to some programs though CaRMS.

What do residents do during their five years of training?

There are three main components to the Community Medicine Residency Programs:
  • Clinical training- residents complete at least 1 year of clinical training
  • Academic training- residents do graduate training in a relevant discipline, for example in public health, to learn core academic content in epidemiology, biostatistics, health policy, health promotion, communicable disease prevention and control, chronic disease prevention and control, and environmental health protection
  • Public health rotations - residents complete rotations in a variety of areas, such as environmental health, chronic diseases, communicable diseases, health policy, and management

Residents typically complete the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons certification examination in May of their final year of residency.

1 http://rcpsc.medical.org/information/index.php?specialty=110&submit=Select

What types of jobs do people get after specializing in Community Medicine?

Community Medicine specialists work in a broad range of settings, including:
  • public health agencies at the local, regional, provincial, federal, and international levels
  • universities and other research institutions
  • non-governmental organizations
  • clinical settings

Do Community Medicine specialists do clinical work?

All Community Medicine residents are required to do training in clinical medicine, and once they have been certified by the Royal College, they are eligible for provincial licensure to practice medicine. Some residents complete Family Medicine training and certification during their residency, so can practice as Family Physicians. Community Medicine specialists may choose to do clinical work as part of their practice, in a general practice or in a specialized practice setting as approved by the provincial licensing body. There are many opportunities for clinical practice which are closely linked to public health programs, for example healthy sexuality clinics and vaccination clinics.

Where are the Community Medicine Residency Programs in Canada?

From West to East, the residency programs are:
  • University of British Columbia
  • University of Calgary
  • University of Alberta
  • University of Manitoba
  • McMaster University
  • University of Toronto
  • Northern Ontario School of Medicine
  • Queen’s University
  • University of Ottawa
  • McGill University
  • Université de Montréal
  • Université de Sherbrooke
  • Université Laval

For more information on each program, please see the CaRMS website, www.carms.ca, or more specifically: https://w1c.e-carms.ca/pdws2009/jsp/pd.do?d=889&p=p3&m=1

How can I find out if Community Medicine is the right specialty for me?

Consider one or more of the following ways to learn more:
  • Set up a summer project
  • Set up an elective during clerkship
  • Attend an academic half day at a Community Medicine residency programs as a guest
  • Talk to a resident in a Community Medicine program
  • Talk to a Community Medicine specialist
  • Get involved in your local Public Health Interest Group

Contact Information

If you have questions, or for more information about the specialty or to set up an opportunity to work or speak with a Community Medicine resident or specialist, please contact us.

Acknowledgements: Thank you to the following individuals for their input on this website: Dr. Fran Scott (Community Medicine Residency Program Director, University of Toronto), Matthew MacDonald (medical student, Dalhousie University), Piotr Klakowicz (medical student, University of Alberta), and Cindy Kao (medical student, University of Alberta).

 
 
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