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FitzGerald Academy

Frequently asked questions

What are observerships and electives?

Medical elective student: A medical elective student is a full-time student at an accredited medical school who is seeking a fully endorsed clinical placement to fulfill requirements set out by his/her school.  A medical elective student must be in his/her final two years of medical school which is considered clerkship.  He/she must confirm the elective placement with the University of Toronto Visiting Electives office prior to commencing the placement. He/she is permitted to receive an evaluation from his/her preceptor at the end of the placement/rotation.

Observer:  An observer is an individual who will “shadow” a healthcare professional for anywhere between one day to eight weeks.  The observer does not have to be a medical student, but must show some interest in pursuing training in the healthcare field.  During the observership placement, the individual must not have any patient contact and cannot be directly involved with patient care.  The observer is not covered by any insurance (malpractice, WSIB).  Observership placements at St. Michael’s are not part of any curriculum.  The observer will not receive an evaluation at the end of a placement.

Can I have contact information for physicians who take observers?
Physician contact information cannot be shared or publicized. Staff at St. Michael's are not permitted to share this information with the public.

Will my observership placement be evaluated?
No. Observerships cannot be part of any curriculum. Observers must not engage in any patient contact and therefore cannot be evaluated on physical skills or interactions.

Am I covered by insurance as an observer?
No. Observers are not covered by malpractice or the Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB).

I did not get a medical elective placement.  Can I apply for an observership instead?
An observership placement is not part of any curriculum and therefore cannot be evaluated. Students seeking a placement to fulfill curriculum are not advised to do an observership. Observership placements are not recommended for students (Canadian or International) who are in their clerkship years (clerkship is constituted as a medical student’s final two years of medical school). An observership placement is advisable for students wanting to experience “a day in the life of” a physician or healthcare professional.

I am not a U of T medical student. How do I apply for an observership?
Unfortunately, at this time, students who are not enrolled as medical students at U of T do not qualify for observership at St. Michael's Hospital.

For more information, please contact the Student Centre by: Telephone: 416-864-5700 or email:

I am a U of T medical student.  How do I apply for an observership?
University of Toronto medical students from all four of the academies (FitzGerald, Wightman-Berris, Peters-Boyd, Mississauga) are encouraged to do observerships in their pre-clerkship years. Students wishing to do an observership at St. Micheal's must seek out a preceptor on their own. University of Toronto medical students do not have to fill-out the Educational Observer Application Form, but an email from your preceptor must be sent to the Student Centre office confirming the placement. The email address is:   

On the first day of the observership, the student must register at the Student Centre and obtain a badge from the Student Centre.

Note: FitzGerald Academy students are not required to register with the Student Centre as they already have a badge and have signed off on necessary privacy and confidentiality forms.

How do I get a medical elective placement at St. Michael's?
St. Michael's Hospital is directly affiliated with the University of Toronto.  As such, you must apply through the U of T in order to be eligible for an elective at St. Michael's.

Please visit the U of T Visiting Students website for more information:

Students at a Canadian or U.S. University

Students at an International University

Important: you must be in your final two years of medical school to be eligible for a medical elective at U of T.  The final 2 years of medical school is considered to be what is known as clerkship.