If you are wondering where to apply for your residency, why not take a look at some of the best residency programs in Canada? Canada has 17 medical schools located across the nation, from coast to coast. Numerous excellent programs in medicine are offered by Canadian medical institutions, which annually receive thousands of applications. Medical residents in Canada can have their pick of urban or rural environments and can even work in the north of the country. To prepare for your residency application, you can consult the and application system for residency matching.
In this article, we will explore what makes a residency program the best, some of the best residency programs in Canada, and tips on how to match with them.
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The phrase “best” here is subjective. There are several factors that make certain residency programs stand above the competition, but they might not be what every candidate is looking for. These factors can include suitability to the student’s goals, a comprehensive curriculum, variety of facilities, focus on research, notable faculty members, affiliate hospitals, and so on. Knowing what you want from a program is very important, just as much as knowing which specialty you want to pursue. There are some medical schools that focus strongly on research while some others focus on providing their residents with the best facilities. Reviewing which medical school is affiliated with what hospital can also help you make your decision of which residency program is best for you.
1. Family Medicine
Family medicine residency involves treating most ailments and providing comprehensive health care for people of all ages. Not just that, it also involves understanding the social determinants of health, using data and technology to coordinate services and enhance care for patients, and forming an enduring and trusting relationship with them. A family physician also provides preventive care, which includes health risk assessments, routine checkups, personalized lifestyle counseling, and immunization and screening tests.
As an aspiring family medicine resident, you will need to work on your . The interview phase in the application process can be challenging, which is why it is ideal to familiarize yourself with some .
Queen’s University School of Medicine
Queen’s University School of Medicine offers a two-year family medicine residency program that not only follows a comprehensive core curriculum based on the Triple C model, but also gives students the opportunity to complete two projects that will help them develop their skills as researchers, advocates, and managers.
The Triple C model stands for:
The program covers the full scope of family medicine, including community-based care, inpatient care, emergency medicine, chronic care, and more. It allows the students to follow the same patients across their family medicine clinics, hospitals, and long-term care facilities. Students will be learning continuously to build values centered on family medicine.
Furthermore, during the two years of the residency program, students will complete two projects: the Scholarly Project and the Quality Improvement Project. The Scholarly Project could be any of the following:
- Research with hypothesis, method, and analysis
- Critical appraisal of key literature
- Advocacy – working with a community group to develop a resource and evaluating the process
- IT project – developing an evidenced-based IT tool to support and enhance medical practice or education
- Ethics project – analyzing an ethical issue in primary care
The Quality Improvement Project is a group project that is completed during PGY1. It involves choosing a topic pertinent to your local clinic environment, collecting baseline data, understanding the complexities of the problem, engaging key stakeholders, and determining appropriate implementation ideas. It is then presented in the form of Grand Rounds presentation at the end of the year.
The family medicine residency program at Queen’s University School of Medicine stands out for its comprehensive core curriculum that is based on the Triple C model.
2. Emergency Medicine
involves providing care for patients who are acutely ill or injured. It requires a variety of technical and clinical skills due to the fast-paced, high-pressure working environment. Emergency physicians are required to treat people of all ages, often under time-sensitive situations and sometimes without even having a definite diagnosis. Depending on the patient, be it paediatric or geriatric, the approach to treatment differs. To be a successful emergency physician, you need confidence, flexibility, physical and emotional resilience, strong communication skills, composure, and the ability to multi-task.
This is one of the , and in addition to having a solid and knowledge of how to answer effectively, candidates are required to demonstrate a passion for emergency medicine by working in a variety of clinical settings.
University of Manitoba
The Emergency Medicine Residency at the University of Manitoba is a five-year program that is accredited by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. It offers leading edge programs, such as the one-month rotation that educates students about toxicology in emergency medicine. There are labs, lectures, clinical and didactic sessions, and even an external rotation option. The Clinical Learning Simulation Facility allows residents to manage critically ill patients.
The program also includes a Trauma Team Leader rotation, which gives residents the training to maintain control in life-threatening situations. One day per week, residents will practice their skills on cadavers. They will also get hands-on experience by working alongside paramedics, air medical crews, and firefighter primary care paramedics, thanks to connections with pre-hospital providers, such as the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service, Provincial Air Ambulance, and STARS helicopter EMS program. Training covers disaster operations, HAZMAT, and mass casualty management.
The Emergency Medicine Residency program at the University of Manitoba stand out for its Clinical Learning Simulation Facility that gives students the opportunity to get hands-on experience in caring for critically ill patients. These simulated experiences cultivate skills in teamwork, leadership, and medical knowledge.
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involves addressing the physical, emotional, and social health concerns of neonates, infants, children, adolescents, and young adults. Physicians in this specialty will also have to manage physical, developmental, behavioral, mental/emotional, social, and environmental problems that affect children. Pediatricians can choose to be affiliated with community hospitals and have practices where they treat patients referred to them by other physicians. They can also choose a subspecialty and work in hospitals affiliated with universities. Pediatrics requires the ability to effectively communicate with patients, families, social service professionals, and teachers.
The four-year residency program offered by the Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics at Dalhousie University is a moderately sized program that exposes students to both general and specialized pediatrics. Not only do students get an inpatient and ambulatory perspective during the residency program, but they also rotate through all major subspecialties. These include allergy/immunology, cardiology, emergency medicine, hematology/oncology, infectious diseases, neonatology/perinatology, and neurology. Students who enroll in this program make decisions at an early stage and teach other junior medical staff.
Specific offerings of this program include the Neonatal Resuscitation Program as well as a Pediatric Advanced Life Support course.
Dalhousie University’s pediatric residency program requires its residents to complete one scholarly project and holds research in very high regard. There are research groups aimed at improving the understanding of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), vaccines, pediatric gastroenterology, perinatal epidemiology, and technoscience.
Students could present their research at national or international meetings. You can also be subsidized to attend one educational meeting (up to $1,000), and if you are presenting, you will be fully reimbursed. Students will also be encouraged to present at the annual Resident Research Day. You'll want to have a strong at the ready if you apply for residency at this school.
The importance that Dalhousie University’s pediatric residency program places on research is what makes this program stand out. All residents take a comprehensive Academic Skills Course in their first year which covers research related subject such as research methodology, grant writing, and submissions to the Ethics Review Board.
Neuropathology, as a subspecialty of pathology and neuroscience, is the study of diseases in the nervous system tissue, whether the central, peripheral nervous systems, or skeletal muscles. A neuropathologist needs to have knowledge of degenerative, infectious, immunologic, metabolic, neoplastic, vascular, or physical illnesses in humans. They diagnose tumors, inflammatory disorders, and infectors, and also perform post-mortem diagnosis. Neuropathologists usually work in hospitals, medical universities, or research institutions and spend their time in labs. They may also serve as consultants to neurologists and neurosurgeons.
While some medical schools in Canada offer neuropathology as a subspecialty in their general pathology residency program, others offer it as a dedicated five-year program.
University of Toronto
The Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology department of the University of Toronto offers a five-year neuropathology residency program that offers a wide variety of clinical resources. Students enrolled in the program can take on interprovincial as well as international electives. The program does not mandate rural rotations, so you are free to work in any setting. If you're debating between settings, you have the freedom to choose.
Research is an important part of the curriculum. Students can opt for dedicated research electives of 3 to 12 months or take on research projects during core, mandatory, or elective rotations.
The resident-to-faculty ratio is 1:7, which means residents can get dedicated and individualized one-on-one training and supervision from faculty members.
The curriculum is divided into different stages, which include the Transition to Discipline Stage, the Foundations Stage, the Core Training Stage, and the Transition to Practice Stage. The first stage includes two blocks that teach the student core skills and competencies needed for early residency success. The foundations stage spans 24 blocks and covers clinical rotations designed to support educational opportunities. The third stage spans 33 blocks and trains students on the core competencies that make up the majority of neuropathology training. The last stage consists of six blocks of training experiences to support readiness for independent practice. Students also get easy access to electronic medical resources which means they can have their study material at the ready whenever they need it.
involves specialization in conditions that affect the skin, hair, and nails. These conditions can include rashes, wrinkles, psoriasis, or melanoma, among others. Dermatologists perform medical and surgical treatments as well as cosmetic procedures. They care for people of all ages and need to understand that a skin condition can have serious negative effects on a person’s health. It is one of the hardest residencies to match with, so familiarizing yourself with can help you prepare for your interview and enhance your chances of getting through.
University of Alberta
The Department of Medicine at the University of Alberta offers a five-year residency in dermatology. It was established in 1987 and is run by a dedicated group of clinician-teachers and researchers. The first two years are dedicated to core and subspecialty rotations in pediatrics or . The following three years are dedicated entirely to dermatology. The main Academic Centre has a host of facilities, including nearly 100 specialized outpatient clinics under one roof.
Residents will have the opportunity to join specialty clinics to deepen their knowledge in areas such as melanoma, autoimmune diseases, cutaneous lymphoma, hair diseases, and so on. With community-based rotations, residents will get hands-on experience working with high volumes of patients, as well as exposure to cosmetic dermatology, general dermatology, lasers, and special surgical techniques such as Mohs surgery. All residents have multiple publications and are involved in research projects.
What makes this program stand out is the main academic teaching centre, which is located at the Kaye Edmonton Clinic. This multidisciplinary ambulatory clinic is home to around 100 specialized outpatient clinics attached to the University of Alberta Hospital, giving residents easy access to a plethora of options.
Familiarizing yourself with the CaRMS application, preparing your documents, and practicing for your interview will help you improve your chances of getting matched with a program of your choice. You can use our to gauge your chances of matching.
The CaRMS application has five components:
- Medical Student Performance Report (MSPR)
- Medical licensing exam scores
- Reference letters
Working on these individual components of the application will help you match with the right program. Note that not all documents may be required for all programs.
Getting your documents in order well in advance can help not only with the planning for your CaRMS application but also in reducing the stress that comes with it.
A residency interview is part of your CaRMS application, and it is up to the program to decide which candidates to invite. The interview can be either in person or online.
Timely can go a long way to ensuring you ace your interview. First, determine the interview format. Then, find out whatever you can about the program. Next, reflect on what you have to offer. Practice answering the most common interview questions, such as the “tell me about yourself" question, the , the , and the question. When answering these and other questions, highlight key qualities and desirable personality traits like motivation, communication skills, confidence, dedication, and so on.
You can also prepare for your interview by participating in mock interviews. These will simulate the actual interview environment you’ll be experiencing and give you the confidence and practice you need for the actual interview. Understanding can also help you prepare for your interview.
1. What does a medical residency typically entail?
A medical residency is part of the medical education process that is required to be able to practice in a hospital or clinic setting. It involves working under the supervision of a senior medical clinician who is registered in that specialty. In Canada, medical graduates must pursue 2–6 years of residency training before they can practice medicine.
2. What is CaRMS?
The Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS) is a service that facilitates the matching of medical students to a residency program and vice versa. It is an independent, non-profit organization. All medical graduates who wish to pursue postgraduate or residency training in any specialty of medicine in Canada must apply through CaRMS.
3. How does CaRMS work?
CaRMS takes all the information about the candidate and matches it to the residency program or programs that they have chosen. If selected, the candidate will have to go in for their interview, after which they will be notified whether they have been selected by the residency program or not. There are two iterations of the Match. The first iteration matches candidates to their first-choice specialties and programs. The second iteration matches any unmatched students with programs that have empty spots remaining after the first round.
4. How many programs should I apply to? Is there a maximum limit?
We recommend applying to no more than 30–35 programs. In Canada, there is no limit to the number of programs you can apply to via CaRMS.
5. What are some medical schools that offer a family medicine residency program in Canada?
Memorial University of Newfoundland, Dalhousie University, University of Ottawa, McGill University, University of Saskatchewan, University of British Columbia, and McMaster University are some of the medical schools in Canada that offer residencies in family medicine.
6. How can I prepare for my CaRMS residency interview?
You can prepare for the CaRMS interview by identifying the interview format, researching the program, reflecting on what you have to offer, practicing answers to the most common interview questions and other sample questions, and taking mock interviews.
7. Which medical schools in Canada offer a five-year neuropathology residency?
8. Is there a way to find out what my chances of getting matched are?
You can use our residency match calculator to get an idea of what your match chances are.