First Five Blog: Should You R3?

By Dr. Shan Lu

If you are in your second year of residency, you may be considering whether or not to do an R3. I had the same question in my second year and, to some extent, still do. This blog shares my personal story and links to the CFPC website for additional information about their Certificate of Added Competence (CAC) program.

First, the story. I became interested in the Care of the Elderly (COE) when I was in my second year of Family Medicine Residency. At the time, I was already five months pregnant with my first child. I had decided that I was interested enough in the field of COE that I would like to specialize in it, so I went ahead and applied for an R3. I was accepted and the University of Alberta even agreed to a deferred start date so I could have my maternity leave as planned.

As my deferred start date drew closer, I became increasingly aware of the difficulties I might face in balancing residency and a child under one year old. I wanted to get working (part-time at that). I had previously established enough connections in the COE field that helped me to land a related part-time position, and I’ve been working at a job I love, and learning in the field, since. Occasionally, I’ve consider returning to do a 6-month accelerated R3 in COE—mostly so that I could have the CAC behind my name.

Now the details. The CFPC currently only allows those who have completed an R3 program in the areas of COE, Sports and Exercise Medicine (SEM), Family Practice Anesthesia (FPA), Palliative Care (PC), and Emergency Medicine (EM). Newly approved domains are Addiction Medicine and Enhanced Surgical Skills.

The CFPC website states they are evaluating how people who have on the job learning could apply and be qualified for a CAC within their chosen field. For example, Emergency Medicine (EM) is a bit different, as you could gain enough experience on the job to then challenge the exam or to go through an R3 EM program. More details are available on their website: http://www.cfpc.ca/CAC/.

Everyone’s experience will be different but, here are some factors you may want to consider when deciding whether or not to do an R3:

  1. Your stage of life,
  2. If you can do the same job without the extra year or if the extra year is crucial to get into the field you like,
  3. How easily you would be able to obtain the CAC if you don’t do the R3 right after your R2 year.

Hope this has been helpful.

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