University of Toronto - General Surgery - Toronto

2020 R-1 Main Residency Match - first iteration
IMG Stream for IMG

Last approved on November 12, 2019

Approximate Quota:


Accreditation status : Accredited

Provincial Criteria

Dr. Savtaj Brar
General Surgery 
University of Toronto 
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
2075 Bayview Avenue, Room H3-17, Toronto, Ontario, M4N 3M5
416-480-6100 ext 83736
General Surgery Residency Program, University of Toronto
Division of General Surgery, University of Toronto
Department of Surgery, University of Toronto
Surgeon Scientist Program Website
Surgical Skills Center
University of Toronto Visiting Student Electives
PGME at U of T

Program Contacts

Madeline Ng
Program Coordinator
416-480-6100 ext 83736

Dr. Savtaj Brar
Program Director

Important Information

Note, the application requirements for Canadian Medical Graduates (CMGs) and International Medical Graduates (IMGs) differ. Carefully read the section relevant to your situation prior to submitting your application.

Review all instructions carefully. Applications with INCOMPLETE and/or EXTRANEOUS documents will NOT be reviewed.

Applying competency-based practices to General Surgery Residency Education

To contribute to the success of Canadian physicians and the delivery of high-quality patient care, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada has embarked upon an initiative to introduce competency-based medical education (CBME) in Canadian postgraduate specialty training and in professional practice in Canada. This initiative, called Competence by Design (CBD), aims to enhance patient care by aligning medical education and lifelong learning with evolving patient needs and empowering learners to more fully engage in their education process.  Residents entering the General Surgery program in July 2020 and beyond will experience competency-based training, including Surgical Foundations.

CBD will use time as a framework and competency as the basis for progression. It is not anticipated that the duration of training will change for trainees. Residency programs will be broken down into stages, and each stage will have a series of milestones based on required competencies. These milestones will create more targeted learning outcomes and involve more frequent, formative assessments within the clinical workplace to ensure residents are developing and receiving feedback on the skills they need.

 All programs implementing CBD will continue to undergo the same rigorous accreditation processes as traditional programs. All CBD programs (and traditional programs) will continue to lead to Royal College approved certification. Certification for trainees in both CBD and traditional programs will include the completion of a Royal College examination; however, residents in CBD programs will also be assessed against program milestones throughout their training. Within a CBD program, all milestones (documented within an electronic portfolio) and the Royal College examination must be successfully completed to achieve certification.  

For more information, please contact

Return of Service


IMGs who accept a residency position must provide five years of full-time service in an eligible community (anywhere in Ontario except Ottawa, Toronto, Pickering, Markham, Vaughan, Brampton and Mississauga).  Physicians confirm their commitment by signing an Return of Service (ROS) Agreement with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. 

The Ministry requests all ROS agreements before June 1 of the year they were matched.  All agreements should be returned to the Ministry prior to the start of residency training.

IMGs with pre-existing ROS obligations must disclose these obligations at time of application. IMGs that have active ROS obligations may not be eligible for Ontario-funded training positions. Such individuals should contact the ministry for further information.

For further information concerning return of service, contact:

Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care




Any candidate with a ROS commitment in any jurisdiction or the Canadian Forces must declare it on his/her application.

Any candidate with a ROS commitment in another jurisdiction must submit an undertaking from his/her provincial government/Health Care Authority or other entity that the entity will permit the candidate to complete his/her ROS in Ontario before beginning the ROS in the other jurisdiction. Candidates with a ROS commitment to the Canadian Forces should contact the Ministry’s Program Officer.

General Instructions

Program application language: English

Please note that the language of instruction for this residency program is English. To ensure file reviewers can properly evaluate your application, please ensure all documents submitted are either in English or include an English translation.

Supporting Documentation

Applicants are advised to only provide the documents requested by the program. No other documents submitted will be reviewed.
Canadian citizenship
CaRMS partners with third-party organizations to verify your citizenship or permanent resident status. If your status is verified by one of these organizations, you will not need to provide citizenship documents in your application. If your citizenship status is not verified, you must provide one of the documents listed below.
Document must be notarized/certified
Submit one of the following documents to verify your Canadian citizenship:
• Canadian Birth Certificate or Act of Birth
• Certificate of Canadian Citizenship
• Confirmation of Permanent Residence in Canada
• Passport page showing Canadian Citizenship
• Canadian Permanent Resident Card (both sides of card)

Must be a Canadian Citizen/Permanent Resident. Proof of valid current citizenship or permanent resident status must be provided by submitting one of the following verifications to CaRMS by the Rank Order List deadline.  Failure to provide valid proof will result in your application being removed.  No other forms of verification are acceptable. 

  1. Notarized/certified photocopy of Birth Certificate issued by an authority in Canada accompanied by photo ID (must be a Canadian government issued photo ID), or
  2. Notarized/certified photocopy of Canadian Passport, or
  3. Notarized/certified photocopy of confirmation of permanent residence accompanied by a photo ID (must be a Canadian government issued photo ID), or
  4. Notarized/certified photocopy of Permanent Resident Card/Canadian Citizen Card – copies of both sides of card must be provided and legible.
Language proficiency
Submit one of the following documents to verify your language proficiency:

Applicants must be able to communicate in the language of instruction and patient care of the matching school. 

Must provide proof of English or French language proficiency through ONE of the following:

  1. International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with a minimum score of 7 in each component, OR
  2. TOEFL-Ibt – passing score of 93 including a minimum score of 24 on the speaking section, OR
  3. A pass result in the French proficiency test administered by the Collège des Médecins du Québec, OR
  4. Candidates for whom their primary and secondary, or medical school education was conducted in English or French, the Ontario medical schools will accept Language Proficiency Attestations as follows:
  1. Primary and Secondary Education: Mailed directly from the Senior Academic Administrators of both schools to the program confirming that all of the candidate’s primary and secondary education was conducted completely in English or French.
  2. Medical School: Mailed directly from the Dean of the candidate’s medical school confirming that the language of instruction and patient care was conducted completely in English or French 
  3. World Directory of Medical Schools Language Option - If the instruction and the language of patient care at the undergraduate medical school was conducted completely in English or French, then a candidate can submit to the Program a copy or printout of the World Directory of Medical Schools website listing the medical school which clearly states that the language of instruction is English or French.
Reference documents
Number requested: 3

Three letters of reference must be submitted, including at least one letter from a General Surgeon. An optional 4th letter from a senior resident (PGY 3-5) in General Surgery or a fellow in a General Surgical sub-specialty may be submitted (a 4th letter from a non-senior resident/fellow or a non-general surgery resident/fellow will not be accepted).

Additional documents
[Note: Photograph is used as memory aid only]

Medical School Transcript 

Order from your Registrar

Medical Student Performance Record 

The Medical Student Performance Record (MSPR) is ordered from, and compiled by, your Dean's Office. The purpose of the MSPR (also known as medical student performance evaluation) is to provide an evaluation of the medical student's performance throughout all years of medical school.

You may use the following suggested outline:

  1. Identifying information
    • Student's legal name
    • Name and location of medical school
  2. Unique Characteristics
    • A brief statement about the unique, distinguishing characteristics exhibited by the student during medical school (eg. leadership, research, clinical performance)
  3. Academic History
    • Month/year of entry into medical school and expected graduation date
    • Outline, by school year, of the student's academic performance
    • Explanation of school-specific grading scheme, class ranking information if available
  4. Clinical Progress
    • Description of student's academic and professional attributes in clinical setting
    • Provide a list of core clinical and elective rotations
    • For each clinical rotation, provide information regarding student performance based on objective grading schemes, as well as attending physician feedback if available
  5. Summary
    • Provide a summative assessment of the medical student's performance based on the student's defining characteristics, school's evaluation scheme, and relative to peers.

Personal Letter 

Please answer the following 5 questions in a single document. All answers should be preceded by the associated question, including the question number. Answer all questions in order. Limit your document to no more than 1000 words (excluding questions). A word count must be included at the end of the document; personal letters exceeding the word limit will NOT be reviewed. Personal letters that do not adhere to these standards will not be accepted.  

  1. Why do you wish to pursue a career in General Surgery?
  2. What has been your most significant accomplishment?
  3. Name two qualities that you possess which will help you to succeed as a general surgery resident.
  4. What do you perceive as the greatest challenge you will face in General Surgery training at the University of Toronto?
  5. Describe feedback that you have received in the past that has been influential to you.

Other Document   - Relevant Health Care Experience

Please upload as a separate document a table of all completed and upcoming General Surgery or general surgical subspecialty (e.g. Pediatric Surgery, Thoracic Surgery, Trauma Surgery, Transplant, Surgical Critical Care, etc.) rotations in chronological order. If you have already graduated medical school, please include all health care experience completed or ongoing since graduation. Please use this template, which includes the following column headers:

  • Date of rotation
  • Location
  • Specialty
  • Rotation type (elective, observership, residency, etc.)
  • Residents and staff who worked with you (for completed rotations)

At the end of the document, please also provide a brief description (<75 words) of the elective requirements/restrictions at your medical school.


MCCEE - Statement of Results 

MCCQEI OR MCCEE - Statement of Results 

For the 2020 CaRMS match IMGs must have written and passed the Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination Part 1 (MCCQE1) OR the Medical Council of Canada Evaluation Examination (MCCEE) Medical Council of Canada. The MCCQE1 is preferred in 2020 and will be mandatory for the 2021 CaRMS match. Statement of exam results must be provided by the File Review Opening Date.  


NAC examination - Statement of results 

The National Assessment Collaboration (NAC) Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) exam is mandatory for all IMGs. The results are required by the file review date.  A passing score is required to apply.  For more information click on the following link National Assessment Collaboration | Medical Council of Canada

Applicants are advised to only provide the documents requested by the program. No other documents submitted will be reviewed.


Review Process

Applications submitted after file review has opened on November 20, 2019

Supporting documents (excluding letters of reference) that arrive after file review has opened  on  November 20, 2019

Letters of reference that arrive after the unmasking date on November 27, 2019

The General Surgery Program uses a structured and standardized process to review applications in a manner that ensures an equitable evaluation for all applicants. It is therefore essential that your application fully complies with the requirements as described.

Only those applications that adhere to the above requirements will undergo review. Additional supporting documentation that have not been requested will NOT be reviewed; this includes:

  • Submission of custom CV
  • Submission of list of abstracts or manuscripts
  • Inappropriately formatted personal letters or Relevant Health Care Experience document
  • Personal letters >1000 words
  • Applications with >4 reference letters
  • Submission of USMLE score reports
  • Incomplete applications


Please follow the application guidelines very closely.

Decisions made by the CaRMS Selection Committee are final and are not open to appeal. The General Surgery Program at the University of Toronto does not have a mechanism in place to provide feedback to unsuccessful applicants.



  • February 1, 2020
Dates:                  February 1, 2020

We are only able to conduct interviews on the designated interview date - February 1, 2020
Telephone and video conference interviews cannot be accommodated.
We have limited capacity to change assigned interview times. Therefore, please do not make travel arrangements until you have received your interview notification. We will notify candidates by email whether or not they have been granted an interview during the week of December 16, 2019.


Program will notify all applicants through CaRMS Online and will send email invitations directly to applicants selected for an interview.

Program will notify all applicants through CaRMS Online and will send email invitations directly to applicants selected for an interview.
Each candidate invited for an interview will participate in a multiple mini-interview lasting 50-60 minutes. Each mini-interview team will consist of a faculty surgeon and a resident. A standardized scoring scheme will be applied to the interviews. Additional documents (e.g. abstracts, papers, extra letters) should not be brought to the interview.

In addition to the interviews, formal presentations by the Chair, Program Director and residents will be made on the day of the interviews. Informal tours with residents in the program will also be arranged. Finally, there will be a reception for candidates as well as current residents and faculty in the evening following interviews on Saturday February 1, 2020.

Selection Criteria

Program goals

Residents who graduate from the General Surgery Training Program at the University of Toronto, will be confident and capable clinicians able to excel in the practice of General Surgery in a variety of settings. Clinical excellence is emphasized in training around the delivery of care to patients and this is achieved through a continuous emphasis on providing high quality of care in a safe and learner focused framework. This learning environment supports the development of highly capable surgeons, able to engage in ethical and team based practice.

For the Program's goals and objectives, click here

Selection process goals

IMGs must consult and be fully in compliance with the Ontario IMG requirements prior to applying. Also, note that applications submitted through CaRMS are for PGY-1 level positions. Therefore, our selection criteria are geared towards suitability for training at this level.

IMGs applying for a PGY-1 position are considered in the First Iteration of the CaRMS match in a separate stream from CMGs. In general, selection criteria are similar to those for CMGs. Applicants are advised that Canadian experience in General Surgery at Canadian medical schools in the form of observerships or electives will substantially enhance the application and will be favourably considered by the selection committee.

Applications are reviewed independently by both faculty and residents. Candidates are assigned a composite score comprised of the file and interview scores.  The CaRMS Selection Committee will generate a preliminary rank list on the basis of these scores.

Successful applicants are typically those that demonstrate strong leadership potential, a commitment to general surgery, a capacity to learn and succeed in a surgical training enviornment, as well as an ability to work well in a team.

File review process

Review team composition : Applicants with complete applications (i.e. in compliance with the outlined requirements) will be reviewed by teams comprised of both faculty and residents.

Average number of applications received by our program in the last five years : 51 - 200

Average percentage of applicants offered interviews : 0 - 25 %

Evaluation criteria :
File component Criteria
CV We do not evaluate this file component
Electives All aspects (e.g. clinical evaluations, evidence of interest, and the relevant experience document)
Extra-curricular All aspects of the applicant’s extra-curricular activities will be considered
Leadership skills All aspects (e.g. leadership in academic, clinical, and extra-curricular settings)
MSPRs All aspects of the MSPR will be considered, including all clinical evaluations
Personal letters All aspects (e.g. adherence to the application instructions)
Reference documents All aspects (e.g. adherence to the reference letter requirements)
Research/Publications All aspects of the applicant’s research/publication history will be considered
Transcripts All aspects of the applicant’s transcript will be considered
Other file component(s) Although we do not review custom CVs, we do review typed entries in the web-based CaRMS application.

The applicant’s MCCQEI/MCCEE and NAC scores will be considered.

Adherence to the application instructions will be strongly considered.

Elective criteria

We encourage applicants to have completed at least one elective in our discipline.
We do not require applicants to have done onsite electives.

Other information regarding elective requirement:

The CaRMS Selection Committee places significant value on personal contact with the applicant. For this reason, applicants are strongly encouraged to pursue an elective (research or clinical) or complete a core rotation in the Division of General Surgery at the University of Toronto. However, we emphasize that this is not mandatory, and recognize that not all applicants are able to arrange an elective within their schedule. The Program Director's Office is unable to assist in arranging electives.

If a University of Toronto elective can be arranged, electives students are encouraged to attend weekly general surgery resident teaching and to consider meeting with a member of the selection committee during the elective.

Interview process

Interview format :

We do not re-schedule interviews for applicants after we have completed the scheduling process.

Interview evaluation criteria :
Interview components Criteria
Collaboration skills Collaboration will be evaluated as part of the interview process
Collegiality Collegiality will be evaluated as part of the interview process
Communication skills Communication skills will be evaluated as part of the interview process
Health advocacy
Interest in the discipline Interest in General Surgery program will be evaluated as part of the interview process
Interest in the program Interest in the Toronto General Surgery program will be evaluated as part of the interview process
Leadership skills Leadership skills will be evaluated as part of the interview process
Professionalism Professionalism will be evaluated as part of the interview process
Scholarly activities Scholarship will be evaluated as part of the interview process

Information gathered outside of CaRMS application

Specifically, we may consider:

Ranking process

The behavior(s) exhibited below during the interview process may prevent an applicant from being ranked by our program :

Program Highlights

  • Diverse Resident Body
  • Dedicated and Talented Faculty
  • Highly Engaged Program Leadership
  • Unsurpassed Breadth and Depth of Clinical Learning Opportunities 
  • Unrivaled Surgeon-Scientist Training Program
  • Surgical Skills Center at Mount Sinai Hospital and St Michael's Hospital
  • General Surgery, Surgical Oncology and MIS Update Courses 
  • Regular Social Events 
For more details, click here


" It is only after I transitioned to becoming a staff surgeon that I realized everything that the University of Toronto residency program did for me. The Surgeon Scientist Training Program allowed me the time and resources to learn about research and to complete my PhD, an opportunity almost unheard of across North America. My outstanding teachers patiently guided me as my clinical and operative skills developed, starting as a nervous PGY1 doing my first appendectomy to a chief resident tackling a complicated trauma case. Most importantly, throughout my residency, I worked in an environment surrounded by creative, energetic, innovative people from all sorts of backgrounds and specialties. This environment was a key motivator during a long residency, and essential to my success."

- Barbara Haas (2013 Graduate), Staff surgeon in Trauma, Acute Care Surgery & Critical Care at Sunnybrook Hospital 


" As you will all learn very soon - residency is about more than just the work - it is about the experience. That is what you will remember for life. We pride ourselves on this experience, and the resident body is truly the heart and soul of our program. An emphasis on teamwork, communication and balanced life are exemplified by weekly teaching sessions with residents from all 5 years, and numerous gatherings, both organized and impromptu, throughout the year. The value of bringing this balanced approach to our patients cannot be over-emphasized, and is a key factor in determining the next class of residents."

- Steven MacLellan (2012 Graduate), Staff surgeon in Minimally Invasive Surgery at Humber River Hospital


Program Curriculum

This residency program is for 5 years.

Program length of training does not exceed the Royal College or College of Family Physicians of Canada standard.


PGY 1 and 2

Rotations in the PGY 1 and 2 years are designed to meet the objectives of core general surgery training as articulated by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. The broad experience prepares trainees for the MCCQE II and Surgical Foundations Examinations as well as develops trainees' cognitive and technical skills in General Surgery.

 Specific Rotations Completed in the PGY-1 year include:

  • General Surgery (6 months - 2 x 3 month rotations)
  • Pediatric General Surgery (2 months)
  • Trauma Surgery (1 month)
  • Thoracic Surgery (1 month)
  • Transplant Surgery (1 month)
  • Emergency Medicine (1 month)

Specific Rotations Completed in the PGY-2 year include:

  • General Surgery (4 months - 2 x 2 month rotations)
  • Vascular Surgery (1 month)
  • Critical Care (3 months)
  • Endoscopy (2 months)
  • Surgical Selective (2 months)


This year comprises:

  • 10 months of General Surgery
    • 4 months community surgery
    • 4 months acute care surgery / General Surgery (2 x 2 month rotations)
    • 2 months breast surgery 
  • 2 months of elective time (clinical or research)
    • Assigned in consultation with the Program Director in order to ensure that the elective experiences are aligned with the resident's needs and long-term objectives

PGY 4 and 5

During PGY 4 and 5, residents on a General Surgery rotation function at the senior resident level with appropriate autonomy and responsibility.

Rotations at the PGY 4 and 5 level include:

  • 16 months of General Surgery (4 X 4 month rotations)
    • At least one four-month rotation based in each of a
      • Trauma Centre
      • Hospital with Surgical Oncology
      • Community Hospital
      • Additional rotation in General Surgery - assigned in consultation with the Program Director 
  • 4 months of elective time
    • Assigned in consultation with the Program Director in order to ensure that the elective experiences are aligned with the resident's needs and long-term objectives.
  • 4 month "Preparation for Practice" rotation  
    • This rotation comprises the last 4-months of residency.
    • The resident will be free from on-call responsibilities until the Royal College examinations at which time on-call responsibilities resume.
    • Specific components include but are not limited to
      • Ambulatory and operative breast surgery
      • 4 half-day clinics per week
      • Up to 1-day of endoscopy per week
      • Practice oral examinations (2 per week)
      • Protected study time


Surgeon Scientist Training Program

Residents accepted into the program have the opportunity to apply for the Surgeon Scientist Training Program (SSTP) following their PGY-2 or PGY-3 year. Acceptance to the SSTP is contingent on at least above average standing in the PGY 1 and 2 year and competition year-to-year varies. Residents who enter the SSTP must enroll in at least a two-year thesis based graduate program. Residents have a wide choice of graduate programs to consider including Basic Science, Clinical Epidemiology, Health Services Research, and Research in Surgical Education.

Residents return to senior clinical training after completing their Master's or PhD degree. The Surgeon Scientist Training Program satisfies the requirements of the Royal College Clinician Investigator Program. Further details on the Surgeon Scientist Training Program can be found at the SSTP website.


Research Expectations

Resident research experience is mandatory. All trainees are expected to complete and present at least one research project. Elective blocks may be used for research experience.


Program Wide Teaching

In addition to a rich offering of site-specific teaching there are a large number of centrally organized lectures and seminars.

  • PGY1 and 2
    • Surgical Foundations Lecture Series
    • Surgical Skills Training
    • Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Surgery (FLS) course
    • 3D Anatomy Course
    • ATLS
    • PGCorEd curriculum: web based core competency modules focused on non-clinical roles for PGY 1 and 2s.
  • PGY3-5
    • Weekly teaching
    • Advanced laparoscopy and operative trauma training (ATOM) courses for PGY 3-4
    • Exam preparation for PGY 5
  • Annual oral exams for PGY-2 through PGY-5
  • Annual Canadian Association of General Surgeons written exam for residents at all levels


Training Sites

Core Training Sites

  • 5 academic adult training sites:
    • Mount Sinai Hospital: 
      • General surgery, surgical oncology, colorectal surgery
    • University Health Network - Toronto General:
      • General surgery, hepatobiliary surgery (HPB), transplant surgery, head and neck surgery
    • University Health Network - Toronto Western:
      • General surgery, colorectal surgery, minimally invasive surgery (MIS), bariatric surgery
    • St Michael's Hospital:
      • General surgery, trauma, colorectal surgery, MIS, surgical oncology, bariatric surgery
    • Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
      • General surgery, trauma, HPB, surgical oncology
  • 1 Academic pediatric training site:
    • The Hospital for Sick Children
  • 2 Community training sites:
    • St Joseph's Health Care Centre:
      • General surgery, head and neck surgery, thoracic surgery, MIS, HPB
    • Michael Garron Hospital
      • General surgery, MIS, colorectal, thoracic surgery, bariatric surgery

Exposure to both community and academic surgery is built into program structure and tailored to meet residents' aspirations and career objectives.


Non-core Training Sites

  • North York General Hospital
  • Humber River Regional Hospital 
  • Women's College Hospital
  • Mackenzie Health (Richmond Hill)
  • Trillium Health Partners (Mississauga)
  • The Scarborough Hospital
  • William Osler Health Centre (Brampton)
  • Training sites available via the Rural Ontario Medical Program


Additional Information

  • This program performs ongoing evaluation of our selection process; as such scores generated may be utilized for internal quality assurance purposes, as well as research and dissemination of new knowledge. All scientific presentations publications will be free of identifying information. Candidates who do not wish their material or scores to be used for this purpose should state such in writing to the program administrator within 60-days following the match day.

Pre-residency orientation programs

All IMG candidates accepted to all residency programs will be required to complete either the Pre-Residency Program (PRP) or the Pre-Residency Program for Family Medicine (PRPFM) prior to entering into a residency program. Matched IMGs will be expected to attend these programs in Toronto, several weeks in advance of the start of their residency program. In some cases, this may result in a delay of the start date of the residency. Additional information on the PRP and PRP FM programs can be found at the following link: Touchstone Institute.

Assessment verification period

All IMG candidates accepted to residency training programs will be required to undergo an Assessment Verification Period (AVP). This assessment period is normally 12 weeks in length and is required by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) to obtain an educational license to enter a residency program. IMGs that have failed an AVP and are reapplying through CaRMS are ineligible to apply for training in the same specialty in Ontario, but may apply to a different specialty in the first and/or second iteration. IMGs who have withdrawn from a program prior to completion of an AVP must declare so upon application.