Family Medicine Myth Busters

  • Additional skills are not necessary to practise comprehensive family medicine, but training is available to acquire enhanced family medicine competencies
  • Graduates from family medicine residency are prepared to provide first-contact patient care that is holistic, complex, continuous, and that can be tailored to meet the needs of the community
  • Canadian schools do not require an on-site elective to secure a residency spot
  • A diversity of electives demonstrates exposure to the many facets of family medicine
  • Every elective helps students discern their most suitable career direction and can be used to support family medicine as a first choice
  • Residency programs value competencies described in the CanMEDS-FM Roles, so look for referees who can provide examples of how you have embodied the Roles1
  • Preceptors with whom you have spent quality time are a good option
  • A summary of memorable cases you had with preceptors is a helpful tool to provide to them
  • A referee’s title within the faculty is not as important as the quality of the letter’s content
  • Enhanced skills programs and Certificates of Added Competence expand—not narrow—the scope of services provided by a family physician
  • Enhanced skills programs supplement core residency training to help physicians improve access to care for identified patients/communities
  • Enhanced skills programs can be used to fulfill both a community need and a personal interest
  • Family physicians who acquire enhanced competencies integrate their expanded scope within comprehensive family medicine practices
  • Family medicine includes the comprehensive, continuous medical care of all people, ages, life stages, and presentations
  • Family medicine includes leadership, advocacy, teaching, research, and quality improvement
  • Many family doctors are involved in medical education and clinical leadership
  • This versatility allows us to strive to achieve work-life integration
  • The average amount of time family physicians spend on indirect patient care is 7.8 hours out of a 48.7 hour work week, based on the 2017 Canadian Medical Association Workforce Survey2
  • The average for all other specialties was 5.8 hours, with many having similar workloads2
  • Paperwork is necessary in all specialties in order to provide thorough patient care, and is a form of advocacy because much of the paperwork helps mobilize resources for patients
  • Family medicine should not be considered a back-up option
  • Truly consider disciplines in which you could see yourself working, learning, and growing, and rank your decisions accordingly
  • Family medicine is the specialty for those who value providing relationship-centred care with patients over time, are interested in adapting to meet care needs, and are excited to contribute to a broad scope of practice that they know holds value in the health care system

This content was prepared by students for the CFPC’s Undergraduate Education Committee, in conjunction with CFPC staff. Special thanks to Caitlyn Davidson (University of Saskatchewan), Julia Petta (Western University), Alexandra Raynard (Western University), and Ramita Verma (Queen’s University) for their assistance and input.

1College of Family Medicine of Canada. CanMEDS-Family Medicine 2017. Mississauga, ON: College of Family Medicine of Canada; 2017. Available from:

2Canadian Medical Association. Canadian Physician Data website. 2020.