March 31, 2020 COVID-19 Statement

Last week, the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry's Dean, Dr. Brenda Hemmelgarn, shared a letter with current learners about recent U of A changes to grading. The following is an excerpt from that letter to learners.

31 March 2020

Last week, the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry's Dean, Dr. Brenda Hemmelgarn, shared a letter with current learners about recent U of A changes to grading. The following is an excerpt from that letter to learners.

By Dean Brenda Hemmelgarn, MD/PhD on March 26, 2020

"I know that the transitions for our learners during the past weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic have been challenging. The University of Alberta is working hard to minimize negative impacts to your academic life and future. Your health, safety and well-being are paramount. In addition to transferring courses to an online format, the University also made the decision to go to a CR (credit) or NC (non-credit) system for Winter 2020 as an equitable solution for our students. This was approved by the General Faculties Council Executive Committee and supported by its student representatives. As more and more people become directly or indirectly affected by the crisis, the grades earned by students may increasingly reflect the conditions in which they find themselves rather than level of effort and their talent.

I understand how this decision may cause you concern. The great uncertainty brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting learners and instructors alike, and we are all being asked to cope with unprecedented challenges, in both our academic and personal lives.

I know you have been working hard to earn strong academic standing in your coursework and want to applaud you for your continued hard work and effort. I understand that you may feel like your career plans are now altered or that you may be at a disadvantage in your plans to apply for graduate, professional and specialization programs.

I also understand that many of you are worried about different things beyond grades-adjusting to learning remotely, accessibility to technology and the internet, staying healthy and well, keeping connected with your family and loved ones while practicing physical distancing, jobs and income, and the COVID-19 virus itself.

Please know that the University, your instructors and I are working together to ensure our students are treated fairly, both in terms of awards and scholarships for coursework completed this 2019/2020 academic year, as well as to identify solutions to minimize the potential impacts on future applications and admissions to other programs and institutions. Discussions are also being held at other academic institutions across the country, and I anticipate globally as well."

For those of you who are in the process of applying for our MD program or planning to in the future, we know that many of your programs across Canada have introduced various accommodation plans for learners as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These include offering an unlimited number of credit/no credit (pass/fail) grades for some winter 2020 terms, standardized final grades, and/or changes in the weighting of course components. We are confident that your programs and faculties have worked hard to determine the best options for you.

We want to assure all of our current and future applicants that we will work very closely with medical schools across Canada to ensure that all applicants are treated fairly and equitably while coping with the circumstances created by this pandemic.

For current cycle applicants who will be admitted to our program in May, there is no significant change to our process.

For prospective applicants, our requirements will remain the same. We are also working with our medical school colleagues all across Canada regarding the possible development of a comprehensive accommodation plan that addresses the circumstances around COVID-19.

Please keep checking our website for the latest updates on the MD admissions process. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us at


Dr. Sita Gourishankar, Assistant Dean, MD Admissions