Actions and Commitments

Call to Action # 24: Health (18-24)

New admissions process improves equitable access to the Queen’s MD Program

April 2, 2024



NationTalk: Queen’s Gazette – Queen’s Health Sciences (QHS) is adapting its MD Program admissions process to create a more inclusive entry point for all applicants, minimize systemic barriers to becoming a doctor, and increase student diversity.

Queen’s Health Sciences (QHS) is adapting its MD Program admissions process to create a more inclusive entry point for all applicants, minimize systemic barriers to becoming a doctor, and increase student diversity.

The renewed medical student admissions process will launch this fall, for 2025 admissions, and includes a pathway for lower socioeconomic status (SES) applicants and adjustments to the current Indigenous pathway. A new comprehensive approach to support the recruitment of Black students will launch in a second phase of this admissions change.  

Unique in Canada, the new process aims to enhance fairness and diversify the MD Program student body by establishing a transparent, equitable, and inclusive process.

The new process will give any qualified candidate the potential to reach the interview stage. Although significant efforts have been made over the years to mitigate any disadvantage, under the present system, many well-qualified candidates are not offered interviews. This is in part due to inflated thresholds required to manage applicant volume, and emphasis on extracurricular activities or volunteer placements in health facilities. These thresholds may disadvantage certain groups, either due to inherent biases with the required tests, or by favouring the privilege required to build one’s application package.

The MD Program will set admissions thresholds for grade point average (GPA), Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), and Casper (a situational judgment test) at levels that align with the potential for predicting success in medical school, without concern for the number of applicants who meet these thresholds. While the MD Program already posts GPA thresholds, as part of this change, MCAT thresholds will be posted as well. All applicants who meet these thresholds will be entered into a lottery to determine who will be invited to interviews.  

“We have thousands of qualified medical school applicants each year who would make excellent doctors. Our new admissions process will give them equal opportunity to be selected for the interview stage. This will help level the playing field for prospective students.”


The new admissions process builds on the success of Queen’s Accelerated Route to Medical School (QuARMS) pathway, which was remodelled in 2020 to support the recruitment of Black and Indigenous high school students on an accelerated track. Where the QuARMS pathway aimed to redress inequity in the MD Program application system; the new admissions process is designed to address equity issues on an even broader scale. 

“The idea of the QuARMS pathway for equity was that one day it wouldn’t be needed,” Dr. Peggy DeJong, Assistant Dean, Admissions, MD Program. “With the new admissions process, the existing Indigenous pathway, and the development of a Black student recruitment pathway, the MD Program will be able to transition to one comprehensive, more equitable admissions process for all applicants.” The QuARMS pathway’s final cohort of students will begin in 2024 and enter medical school in 2026.

The faculty’s commitment to targeting inequities in admissions processes complements existing programs like the Outreach & Summer Program (QHSOSP). With the phase-out of the QuARMS pathway, the faculty will continue to build recruitment pipelines from high school and expand the supports available after admission to medical school.

The changes to the MD admissions process reflects a primary goal of the QHS EDIIA Action Plan: to minimize systemic barriers faced by applicants through equitable and inclusive admission and transition processes. Further, the initiative ties into QHS’s strategic plan, Radical Collaboration, which has a goal of developing a profile of students, staff, and faculty that matches the demographics of the general Canadian population.

“Increased diversity and life experience in our medical school will lead to more diversity in the health workforce,” says Dr. Eugenia Piliotis, Associate Dean, Undergraduate Medical Education. “To support health equity, all communities need to see themselves reflected in their care providers.”

The MD Program admissions office worked extensively in the renewal of the process and, with the admissions committee, took a collaborative approach to this update. The committee’s work built upon consultations conducted by the Dean’s Action Table on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, a group that included students, faculty, and staff. The plan was informed by resources and recommendations from the Black Medical Students Association of Canada and the National Consortium on Indigenous Medical Education’s Indigenous Student Admissions and Transitions Working Group. To refine and finalize the new process, the committee worked in consultation with the faculty’s Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Indigeneity and Accessibility Initiatives office, student government, Black Medical Students’ Association, Indigenous students, a Specified Advisory Committee for Black learners, faculty, and staff.

View the FAQs for the updated MD Program admissions process.