Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1: What is the Integrated Community Clerkship (ICC)?
Question 2: How do I apply for the ICC?
Question 3: How are students selected for the ICC?
Question 4: Am I eligible for the ICC?
Question 5: How will students be assigned to communities?
Question 6: What if I’m only interested in one of the ICC communities and wouldn’t consider going to any of the others?
Question 7: What communities are approved ICC sites?
Question 8: What can I expect from the ICC community?
Question 9: Who will be my preceptor?
Question 10: What does a typical ICC week look like?
Question 11: What does the entire ICC clerkship year look like?
Question 12: Will I be disadvantaged by having the same preceptor(s) for so long?
Question 13: Will the clinical education be as good as that in the rotation-based clerkship?
Question 14: Will I miss out on the formal teaching that is part of the rotation-based clerkship?
Question 15: How will I be assessed?
Question 16: Will I be disadvantaged at the CaRMS match?
Question 17: How will I stay in touch with my ICC colleagues?
Question 18: What about accommodation?
Question 19: What about travel?
Question 20: How is the ICC run?
Question 21: How do I get more information?


Question 1: What is the Integrated Community Clerkship (ICC)?

The Rural Integrated Community Clerkship Program (Rural ICC) is a core clerkship option for medical students. Students may apply to be placed in a rural Alberta community for approximately 36 weeks during their third year of study.

Rural ICC uses regional family medicine practices as the core experience. It provides students with continuous patient care, preceptor supervision and learning experiences.

It is one program in a worldwide movement towards longitudinal integrated clerkships. These have been implemented in the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom and at six other Canadian medical schools.

[Top]


Question 2: How do I apply for the ICC?

ICC application forms will be sent out by email to the entire class. Interviews will be held as applications are received. Successful candidates are personally notified.

Choosing tracks for the rotation-based clerkship does not occur until the students for the ICC are confirmed.

[Top]


Question 3: How are students selected for the ICC?

Students are selected on the basis of the ICC application form and an interview.

Students are evaluated on the basis of ability, which is based on the following characteristics: academic achievement, resiliency, performance in small-group learning and evidence of self-directed learning.

[Top]


Question 4: Am I eligible for the ICC?

Students who have failed courses or gone through remediation in the first two years of schooling are not eligible. Students who have taken a leave from their medical studies for three months or more in their second year will not be eligible to apply either. All other students are eligible to apply.

[Top]


Question 5: How will students be assigned to communities?

On the application, students rank the sites according to their preference. There is a space on the application for students to specify why a particular site fits their needs better than others (ie. grew up in that community, partner can find work in the community, etc).

It is program policy to assign two students to each community for support and collegiality. The student pairing requests indicated on applications will be considered, but it will not be the only selection criteria. Certain life situations (such as two applicants being married) may make it necessary to assign two applicants to the same community.

[Top]


Question 6: What if I’m only interested in one of the ICC communities and wouldn’t consider going to any of the others?

Applicants who are only willing participate in one community will decrease their chances of being chosen for the ICC program. If a student feels there is a compelling reason that only one site is a possibility for them, they are invited to address this in the application.

If students find themselves interested in only a few ICC sites, they should seriously reflect if the program is suitable for their needs. The program cannot use desired sites as the sole criteria when assigning communities.

[Top]


Question 7: What communities are approved ICC sites?

The approved sites are listed on the Participating Communities page.

[Top]


Question 8: What can I expect from the ICC community?

General characteristics of communities are as follows:

  • Minimum of 500 consultations per week that will involve patients of all ages.
  • Continual cover by family doctors who are based in the community.
  • Ability to provide a minimum of one operating list per student per week.
  • Active local obstetrics program that can provide students with a minimum of 10 labour and delivery experiences.
  • Capability to undertake inpatient management for common problems in family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics, pediatrics and psychiatry.
  • Comfortable residential accommodations for students.
  • Study room for students.
  • Access to teleconferencing and high speed Internet.

Each site has hosted medical students for the rural family medicine rotation and/or rural electives. Most communities are also residency training sites.

[Top]


Question 9: Who will be my preceptor?

Each community has identified one or two ICC site co-ordinators. The ICC site co-ordinator will be responsible for scheduling, regulating feedback and completing student evaluations. This will be done in collaboration with all physicians involved in teaching. Students will work with most of the physicians in the community at some time during their ICC assignment.

In some communities, the ICC site co-ordinator takes on most of the administrative tasks and other physicians assume the main responsibility for teaching. In others, the ICC site co-ordinator also is a primary preceptor.

[Top]


Question 10: What does a typical ICC week look like?

A typical week will most likely be spent as follows:

  • Most days will start with hospital rounds. This will include caring for the obstetrical patients the student will follow.
  • Four or five half-days in a family medicine clinic. These responsibilities include ER, following patients in labour, working with visiting specialists, etc.
  • Up to one full day in surgery.
  • One half-day of Structured Learning Sessions, which are conducted through eClass Live.
  • One half-day of self-directed study.
  • One half-day with other health professionals in the community.
  • Students are expected to be on call until 11 p.m. one evening per week.
  • Students are expected to be on call one weekend per month. This will include 24 hours of continuous or discontinuous on-call responsibility.

Schedules will vary from between each community to ensure students meet the Year 3 objectives in the context of the community in which they are assigned.

On-call responsibility is to be approached with a degree of flexibility, given the requirement for ICC students to follow obstetrical patients on a 24/7 basis in the Patient Panel.

[Top]


Question 11: What does the entire ICC clerkship year look like?

  • Two weeks of Link Block (with regular track)
  • Three days of Community-based Research and Evaluation (workshop)
  • One week of ICC orientation, which is held in a rural community.
  • A 37-week assignment in a rural community.
  • Two weeks debriefing, including case presentations, MCQ and OSCE assessments
  • Three weeks of selectives. These are used if any areas are identified as “gaps” in the ICC community experience. Gaps are indentified by the ICC Program in consultation with past students and local preceptors. If no such gaps have been identified, students will identify an area in which they feel they need more preparation. For all selectives, students will be expected to develop learning objectives for the rotation.
  • Five weeks unscheduled time at the end of ICC.

[Top]


Question 12: Will I be disadvantaged by having the same preceptor(s) for so long?

For most students, this will be a significant advantage. In terms of authentic assessment, a preceptor who observes a student over time is able to give supportive feedback that assists the student in improving knowledge and skills. Most of the feedback in ICC is assessment for learning, rather than assessment of learning.

It may also influence CaRMS applications letters. The longer a preceptor has worked with a student, the more credibility a reference letter will have.

[Top]


Question 13: Will the clinical education be as good as that in the rotation-based clerkship?

Evidence shows that on results from the Year 4 MD exams and LMCCs, ICC students are comparable to their colleagues in the rotation-based clerkship. Similar programs at other medical schools have shown evidence that supports these results.

ICC students seem to have more developed procedural skills and clinical confidence (comfort and ability with clinical situations and problems).

The ICC has a larger ambulatory care component than the rotation-based clerkship. ICC students generally see more patients over the course of their third year. By the end of the ICC year, students have significant autonomy and responsibility within their community’s health-care team.

[Top]


Question 14: Will I miss out on the formal teaching that is part of the rotation-based clerkship?

A curriculum has been developed for the ICC that incorporates all key concepts and clinical problem areas necessary for students to supplement the clinical experience. Weekly Structured Learning Sessions (SLS) include case presentations by ICC students based on their patients. There is also a virtual case that is discussed asynchronously through the week and presented at the SLS the following week. Students will also have access to the workshop podcast presentations given to students in the rotation-based clerkship through eClass Live.

[Top]


Question 15: How will I be assessed?

The ICC has a series of assessments throughout the placement:

  • Students will receive a mini-CEX assessment once a week from their primary preceptors.
  • Periodic formative preceptor-based evaluations of student performance will occur approximately every 12 weeks.
  • Formative knowledge-based assessments including MCQs will also allow students to assess their progress.

Summary of Assessment Methods:

Assessment by site co-ordinator 45%
Case Presentation 15%
Student in Community Project 15%
Patient Panel Completion 5%
Exam 20%
Total 100%

[Top]


Question 16: Will I be disadvantaged at the CaRMS match?

Because students completing the ICC fulfil the same learning objectives as those in rotation-based programs, there is no immediate disadvantage.

Some observations from CaRMS interviewers suggest that ICC students have an advantage. ICC students will have elective time at the end of their ICC community assignment to ensure that they are “seen” in the programs that interest them most. These electives are well-placed. This ensures students who have completed their community placement can showcase their clinical and procedural skills to residency programs.

For those interested in rural family medicine, the ICC will be a definite advantage for the rural family medicine residency programs.

Some of the ICC cohorts that have graduated from U of A received the first choice on their CaRMS match. This is also true for students who have completed ICC-like courses at the University of Calgary and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine for students.

[Top]


Question 17: How will I stay in touch with my ICC colleagues?

Two students are assigned to each ICC site for collegial support. Students will also have access to high-speed Internet and are encouraged to use eClass Live and social networking tools to communicate with their colleagues. The weekly Structured Learning Sessions bring together ICC students through eClass Live.

[Top]


Question 18: What about accommodation?

All ICC students will have a comfortable, secure place to stay for the entire community placement. Accommodation is subsidized.

[Top]


Question 19: What about travel?

Travel to and from the ICC community will be covered. If there is extra travel mandated by the ICC Program, for instance to a practice OSCE, travel to those events will also be covered.

[Top]


Question 20: How is the ICC run?

The ICC is a joint program of the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry of the University of Alberta and Faculty of Medicine of the University of Calgary. There is a joint ICC Committee whose responsibility it is to develop, implement and maintain the program.

Within each faculty, the ICC is a core clerkship program of the respective Offices of Undergraduate Medical Education. The day-to-day operations are the responsibility of the UME Office. There is an ICC program director who is responsible for the program and reports to the clinical assistant dean. There is also an ICC administrative co-ordinator supporting the program.

[Top]


Question 21: How do I get more information?

At the University of Alberta, contact:

Catherine Stevens
ICC Administrative Co-ordinator

Office of Undergraduate Medical Education
Tel: 780-248-1103
E: icc.ume@med.ualberta.ca

[Top]