CaRMS personal letter examples are useful aids to help anyone who is readying to be matched to a residency program in Canada. Like general residency school personal statement examples, CaRMS personal letter examples are supposed to show you what to include in your letter, but the CaRMS system does not determine the content, as each program has its own requirements. Before you start writing, you should ensure you are familiar with your preferred program’s personal letter requirements.
This article will provide you with a few CaRMS personal letter examples based around real letter requirements from different medical schools in Canada, and give you other tips on how to create a letter to get you matched.
>>Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free strategy call here.<<
CaRMS Personal Letter Examples
Rather than describing what to include and how to write a CaRMS personal letter, it may be helpful to first look at examples of letters written based on specific programs in Canada. According to the Canadian Federation of Medical Students, the most popular first choice for residency students is family medicine (32.7%), while ophthalmology is the most in-demand specialty in Canada, with a supply-demand ratio of 0:51.
The school with the highest match rate in Canada is the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, which has a perfect match rate for all of its graduates. But that success belies the fact that only 52 graduates entered the match, which is not even half of the graduates who attempted to match from the next most successful school, the University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine, which matched 99.7% of its 161 graduates.
The letters below are written in accordance with the following programs' requirements:
- A family medicine personal statement example for the Northern Ontario School of Medicine
- An ophthalmology residency personal statement example for the University of Ottawa
Are you applying for residency and want to know how to avoid residency application red flags? Watch this video:
CaRMS Personal Letter Example no.1
Word count minimum: none / maximum: 500 words
Content requirements (taken from the CaRMS website):
- Experiences contributing to your interest in Family Medicine
- Aspects of the NOSM U Family Medicine program that interest you and will assist you in becoming an excellent family physician
- Connections or personal qualities that make you an ideal candidate for practice in northern settings, including experience or interest in our diverse populations
- Your greatest challenge if you are accepted into this program
- Additional information about yourself, not found elsewhere, that should be considered by the Selection Panel
Dear Dr. Steven Murphy and Distinguished Members of the Selection Committee,
Looking over the NOSM Family Medicine Residents of the Canadian Shield (RoCS) website, one word stood out more than any other: community. Seeing that word over and over again only affirmed my decision to apply to the Family Medicine program. I have always believed that family medicine is inextricably tied to community; a family is another type of community, after all.
I first became aware of that fact when I was ten. I had watched a science fiction movie about the apocalypse, and it had gotten to me. I was too young to think of such finality, but the realness of the end of the world caused an existential crisis in my ten-year-old soul. I stopped doing my homework. I stopped going out to play with my friends. My mother noticed and asked me what was wrong, but she wasn’t equipped to reassure or soothe me. On the other hand, she knew who would be able to reach me. One afternoon, after school, she took me to see Dr. Vishal Patel, who had been our family doctor for most of my life. Dr. Patel, my mother and I sat in one of the examination rooms in his office. After my mother explained what was wrong, Dr. Patel looked at me and said that he was more knowledgeable about death than anyone,. He asked, “do you see me packing up and going home? Do you see me giving up?”
Those words have stayed with me until now. They pushed me when I was dumbfounded by my Introduction to Organic Chemistry class. They motivated me while I was doing my third year clinical rotations and felt overwhelmed by the hours and patient load. When I wondered whether I should keep going, those words, “do you see me giving up?”, came back to me.
I think the NOSM has a little of Dr. Patel’s defiance in it. It was founded, after all, as a response to doctors avoiding rural or remote areas for various reasons from simple indifference to outright bias and prejudice. It was created with a spirit of persistence in the face of great challenges. The school is now one of the most unique and diverse medical schools in Canada, and it is that commitment to diversity and acceptance that makes the NOSM my first choice.
If accepted into the Family Medicine residency program, I feel that my desire to integrate into the distinctive communities of Northern Ontario, whether rural, economically disadvantaged, or First Nations, is my most beneficial quality. I know that I am not from this area, but I look forward to immersing myself in the community and my studies, in the hope the latter will one day serve the former.
CaRMS Personal Letter Example no.2
Word count minimum: 700 / maximum: 800
Dear Dr. Sandra Hart and Esteemed Members of the Selection Committee,
Before I took a first year, undergraduate philosophy course, Introduction to Metaphysics, I had no idea who Baruch Spinoza was. To be honest, I didn’t have much of an idea of what Metaphysics was either. But I think that course did more to interest me in the eye’s anatomy and the science of vision than any of my medical school courses. It put me on a path to better understand this most essential, but often overlooked, organ.
Spinoza was a philosopher but also a gifted lens maker who made microscopes and telescopes at a time when it was still a cutting-edge art. The more I learned about his philosophy, the more I thought about Spinoza grinding away in his workshop, literally creating another way to interpret the world, while in his head he formulated a philosophy based in rational thought. It also made me think about the eye itself, a lens like no other. Spinoza said that there is only one substance, which he called, variously, God, nature, the infinite. Substance takes on different forms, just like our eyes interpret and read external stimuli and convert it into something we can “see.”
Reading about Spinoza’s philosophy made me think about how the eyes are able to interpret everything and create a vision of the world that is unquestionable. How unfortunate then, when that sight is taken away, for whatever reason, from glaucoma to a sudden, painless loss of vision. While I understand that people can lead happy, healthy, and productive lives without their sight, as someone who wants to be an ophthalmologist, I need to be prepared to help anyone who wants to either prevent losing their sight or help restore it.
Realizing the fundamental importance of the eyes and vision is what prompted me to change my degree from English to Biology. When it came time to apply to medical school, I was interested by other fields for various reasons (work-life balance, competitiveness, higher salary), but my fascination with the eye did not subside, and I decided to pursue ophthalmology. The residency program at the University of Ottawa is one of the most cutting-edge programs in North America, and the commitment to embracing new technologies, such as the state-of-the-art EYESi Ophthalmic Surgery Simulator (VR Magic), in cataract and vitrectomy training, could not be more appealing or fascinating to me.
I am most excited about the research opportunities available at the University of Ottawa, along with the attendant infrastructure to support that research. The fact that the school gives all applicants ample opportunity to learn, improve, and sharpen their skills is what appeals to me the most. I am looking forward to engaging in the External Cataract Surgery Skills courses or the summer skills enhancement courses, since my main focus is eye surgery. I’m thinking specifically about the Ophthalmic Surgical Simulation Centre, as it seems like an ideal place to apply my skills and deepen my knowledge of vision and the other senses.
I am keen to learn the hands-on approach and methods required for the eye, given that surgery is sometimes required to treat diseases when pharmaceutical options fall short. I have some clinical experience in blepharoplasty, assisting the surgeon who made tiny incisions to remove skin and muscle to repair a patient’s droopy eyelids. I hope to develop this same manual dexterity in my residency. I have observed cataract surgery as well, but my main interest is currently in glaucoma research. As a Black physician, I am concerned about the higher rate of this disease in my community and believe I can contribute significantly to outreach aimed at prevention of this debilitating disease.
The entire network of research facilities and teaching hospitals in the Ottawa area, including the University of Ottawa Eye Institute, the Riverside Eye Care Centre, and the Department of Ophthalmology at CHEO, all give me confidence that I will have the support and feedback I need to successfully complete my residency. I am sure that these facilities and the teams that run them will help me improve my surgery skills and give me many occasions to refine and perfect my technique.
To me, the eye also represents knowledge and learning, and I want nothing more than to continue investigating its secrets so that one day I can be there when someone who has never been able to see opens their eyes to our beautiful world.
What is a CaRMS Personal Letter?
A CaRMS personal letter is something you write to introduce yourself to a residency program in Canada that you want to join. It is also a way of telling the selection committee what about the program appeals to you and why you want to be admitted. You can read samples to prepare, and you may know what residency personal statements to avoid, but the CaRMS personal letter does not adhere to a centralized set of rules or criteria like ERAS in the US does.
That is why, despite the above definition, a CaRMS personal letter cannot be compared to something like AMCAS personal statements or TMDSAS personal statements, which are written by students entering medical school. Those letters have other requirements and are intended to solicit responses from someone who is new to the medical school establishment.
Writing a residency personal letter is different. When you apply for a residency match, you are a successful medical school graduate well-versed in medical science. The expectations for your personal letter, regardless of whether they are for a family medicine residency or an internal medicine residency, are much higher and you are expected to talk confidently about yourself, your education, and your goals as they relate to the residency.
Personal letters are not the only element of a successful residency application, as there are several. Like medical school requirements, entry requirements into a residency program look at your grades from medical school, coursework, and any extracurriculars for medical school that you were involved in. Applicants must also submit citizenship information and recommendation letters. Not all programs have the same requirements, though, so you must review the CaRMS website and scroll through your preferred programs to find out what you need to submit: CaRMS is the only portal through which candidates send their applications.
What is the Difference Between a Personal Letter and a Personal Statement?
A personal statement and personal letter are very similar, but also very distinct from each other. The latter is what the CaRMS service for residency programs in Canada requires from all applicants, even though each school has its own content and formatting requirements. This is different from a personal statement that almost all medical schools in the US and some in Canada solicit when students are entering medical school.
With that said, a personal letter still requires personal details about questions like “why do you want to be a doctor?” and what inspired you to choose your particular field and this particular residency program. But when explaining your reasons, you should be able to make specific mention of a particular class or subject (microbiology or pharmacology, for example) or be more knowledgeable about your field in general than a premed student, while also demonstrating that you still have much to learn and are eager to complete your training to become a doctor.
What Should I Include in my Personal Letter?
To find out the unique personal letter requirements of each residency program so that you know what to include, you will need to consult the CaRMS website and browse every program. You should not stick to a general personal statement outline because each residency program in Canada has its own requirements, so you will be wasting time if you do not research every school’s unique criteria first.
Of course, medical school personal statements also have format and content requirements, but they are different from a residency personal letter. For example, a residency personal letter needs to be more specific, especially about the program’s qualities and why they appeal to you. But the specificity goes further than the school itself. A medical school can have various residency programs, like general pathology or surgery, each of which has its own set of criteria.
For example, the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at Western University has an emergency medicine residency and a general surgery residency, but each program’s personal letter requirement could not be more different. The emergency medicine stream has done away with the requirement altogether. In its place, the program director has formulated a questionnaire aimed at gauging a candidate’s:
There are more qualities the questionnaire is supposed to measure, but the list of questions is not available on the CaRMS site; each response should also be under 200 words. At the other end, the general surgery residency program at Western asks students for a more conventional personal letter that should outline “their reasons for wishing to pursue a surgical career and training at Western” and asks applicants to simply detail “any community or volunteer work you have done, along with any of your hobbies, interests, or talents."
Should I Read CaRMS Personal Letter Examples?
You can read CaRMS personal letter examples to get an idea of what you should include in your personal letter. But if you already know what program you want to apply to and what its requirements are, you should read specific residency essays, such as examples of surgery personal statements or neurology personal statements to see for yourself what other applicants for those specific programs include.
But again, it depends on what specialty or sub-specialty you are choosing, so you can read psychiatry personal statement examples if you are choosing psychiatry. You can read radiology residency personal statement examples if that is your preferred specialty. The list goes on, but even reading these examples will be futile if your program has a completely different set of criteria, so your research should always begin there.
CaRMS personal letter examples should be read only if you are struggling to craft your own letter, since, as we’ve seen, every program has its own content and format requirements. Crafting your letter according to a general, unspecific personal statement can put you on the wrong path. There are some universal rules that you need to adhere to, like following the word count and talking about what the school asks, but you should first make sure you understand everything about the program you are applying to.
1. What are the requirements for writing a CaRMS personal letter?
There are different requirements for every residency program in Canada, and you should consult the CaRMS Program Descriptions page to see for yourself what each school requires.
2. Do I need to submit a personal letter for CaRMS?
Yes, you do need to submit a personal letter, but every school has different requirements. You may have to submit an unconventional letter like the one specified for the Western University Emergency Medicine residency program, which takes the form of a questionnaire that students have to answer.
3. What should I include in my personal letter?
You should include whatever the school asks you to include. Every school has its own personal letter criteria, and the requirements can range from talking about your volunteer work or hobbies to answering questions to determine your level of empathy, curiosity, and critical thinking skills.
4. Will my personal letter help me get into my preferred residency program?
Every school has its own personal letter requirements. They each review a candidate’s application differently and consider all aspects, such as your grades, transcripts, personal letters, and CaRMS reference letters. There is no guarantee that a great letter will help you get in, but it certainly cannot hurt your chances relative to every other part of your application.
5. How do I submit my personal letter?
You can submit your personal letter via the CaRMS online portal, along with other elements of your application.
6. What should I not include in my personal letter?
You should not include anything the school says not to include. Every residency program in Canada provides a helpful guide to completing your application, and they make explicit reference to personal letters. Some schools have very few requirements – word count and nothing more – which gives you plenty of room to put forward what you personally consider important for a selection committee to know.
7. What should I write about if there are no content requirements?
If your residency program has few, if any, content requirements for your personal letter, you should follow the formula of talking about what attracts you to the program, why you want to go there, and what you hope to achieve later in your medical career.
8. How long should I take to write my personal letter?
You should give yourself as much time as possible to write several drafts of your personal letter to sharpen its message before submitting. You can also let colleagues, advisors, and former professors read it before you send it. A residency prep company can provide great help and support at this important juncture in your medical career.
Like our blog? Write for us! >>
Have a question? Ask our admissions experts below and we'll answer your questions!