The AFMC Student Portal is an online, bilingual service that facilitates applications and placements of medical students for undergraduate visiting electives at the 17 faculties of medicine in Canada. The portal was first launched in 2014 in response to the significant concerns expressed by students and the AFMC Standing Committee on Undergraduate Medical Education regarding the complexity and inconvenience medical students face when applying for electives in Canada.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, visiting electives were suspended and the Student Portal was closed for two years. The AFMC team used that time as an opportunity to refresh and upgrade the portal to a new, more robust solution.
The new AFMC Student Portal (Portal 2.0) went live on May 13, 2022 with new features including an easy-to-access dashboard that displays the status of placement requests, placements completed, and to-dos required for applications in progress. A demo of the new portal was presented at the Canadian Conference on Medical Education (CCME) in April 2022.
With the new portal, students can browse electives prior to paying the registration fee, quickly accept or withdraw offers, easily update documents, and view and apply for specialties from their cell phone, tablet, laptop, or PC. From the school’s perspective, staff can set capacity levels by location with the ability to see how many requests are pending and how many have been accepted, can upload documents such as contracts and generate a survey for students and preceptors to complete at the end of the placement. The verification process is now simpler as schools can upload students that have already been verified by their home school verifier.
Although the new features, schools also needed to prepare to offer visiting electives in a limited capacity as well as to support their students to visit other schools. Since the Summer, AFMC has been working closely with all faculties of medicine to ensure a smooth transition for schools going live. We provide 1-1 meetings to go through a Go Live checklist, assist in training new staff and in training Placement Contacts and students.
We have received great feedback from schools on the support AFMC is providing for them in answering questions and helping them go live.
Here are testimonials from our schools
“The University of Saskatchewan was one of the first schools to go live on Portal 2.0. The AFMC team provided tremendous support to our school, to ensure that the new platform was launched successfully. To facilitate a smooth transition between systems, the AFMC mapped out a clear schedule for the Elective Coordinators, including setting up regular meetings to update us on the progress, offering frequent training sessions, as well as weekly Q&A sessions. As expected with any new system, there have been technical issues along the way. AFMC worked closely with the vendor to ensure that these issues were resolved quickly. Helen and her team have provided open communication to the Elective Coordinators regarding these system issues and the timeline for having them fixed. The AFMC team also facilitated open communication between schools, which as a result, lead to us aligning our application dates to make it easier for students. The AFMC team was given a huge task to set up a new student Portal, and they have done a remarkable job launching this new site.”Shari Smith, Elective Coordinator, University of Saskatchewan
“During the transition to the Portal 2.0, AFMC has provided training, assistance with portal navigation and regular meetings to discuss issues and progress. They are always willing and available to meet and discuss problems the Electives team encountered with the system and supported our internal training for placement contacts.
Communication between schools is facilitated through regular AFMC Portal 2.0 Elective Coordinators Working Group.
On the other hand, technical issues, planning, payment processes could have been addressed or implemented by the vendor before the launch. Processes within the portal could have been tested more thoroughly before schools went live to prevent delays in completing students’ requests.”Visiting Electives Program, University of Toronto
“AFMC set up multiple training sessions, along with individual time with each school. They provided multiple user guides for different roles and access to test accounts so that we could go through ourselves to learn those different roles. They also assisted us in training our placement contacts as well as training our students on the portal. They have been very responsive to any questions we have.
The new portal has been a struggle on all sides. AFMC has been very responsive to the various issues, and have begun to be more proactive and email the students directly, or the coordinators to send out to the students, with information before they make changes to portal applications that would affect students’ ability to see statuses, availability, errors, etc. It is good to have more transparency around the issues and concerns and how AFMC is working on resolving them to coordinators and students. I would like to thank AFMC for their continued hard work and support as we all navigate through this new system.”Tania Pander, Program Coordinator, University of Calgary
At this time, there are eight universities live offering almost all electives in a limited capacity. AFMC is working with an additional eight universities to have them prepared to offer limited electives for Spring of 2023.
There are currently 850 students active from the five schools who are allowing their students to apply for visiting electives. The remaining schools will be allowing their students to apply by Spring/Sumer 2023. As of November 8, 2022, we have received a total of 305 student applications.