University of Saskatchewan - Neurosurgery - Saskatoon

2022 R-1 Main Residency Match - first iteration
CMG Stream for CMG

Last approved on September 27, 2021

Approximate Quota:


Accreditation status : Accredited

Provincial Criteria

Dr. Lissa Peeling
Royal University Hospital  
103 Hospital Drive
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, S7N 0W8
(306) 966-8201
(306) 655-1333
Division of Neurosurgery

Program Contacts

Dr. Lissa Peeling
Program Director

Kim Moss
Program Administrative Assistant
(306) 966-8201

Important Information

Applicants  are responsible for reviewing the University of Saskatchewan Policies for the R1 Match to determine if they meet all requirements and eligibility criteria. Failure to meet or provide proof of any of the stated requirements or documents may result in an applicant’s file not being reviewed or ranked.

CASPer Test
All applicants must complete the Casper test (Altus Suite). More information is available under Supporting Documentation-CASPer Exam.

Matched applicants must be eligible for an educational register license with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan (CPSS) for a July 1st start date and must maintain eligibility for an educational register license throughout their entire training program. Any delays in providing all required documentation to CPSS may result in the following:

  • delay in issuance of an educational register license and a delay in start of postgraduate training beyond July 1st
  • release from CaRMS match contract

Applicants completing medical education at the University of Montreal, Sherbrooke, Laval, and the University of Ottawa (French stream) are required to submit proof of English language proficiency before the rank order deadline to demonstrate they meet CPSS requirements. More information is available under Supporting Documentation-Language Proficiency.

In order to commence and continue in Postgraduate Medical Education training programs, matched applicants must be eligible for and maintain privileges within the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) as determined by their credentialing process. The SHA requires successful applicants to submit a current criminal record check as part of their pre-resident application for appointment. Applicants with criminal records will be considered on a case by case basis by the College of Medicine in consultation with the SHA.

Resident Boot Camp
All matched applicants must attend a mandatory three-day Resident Boot Camp in late June. The purpose of the Boot Camp is to provide additional support to trainees as they transition to residency by introducing and consolidating baseline skills and knowledge needed to flourish during their residency years. The program will include interactive case-based and hands-on practice sessions. Stipends will be provided to trainees.

Advanced Cardiac Life Support
Matched applicants are required to provide proof of ACLS certification (current as of July 1, 2022) to the PGME office prior to starting their training program. The ACLS course must be endorsed by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and/or the American Heart Association. ACLS training that is not certified by these two organizations and/or is completed entirely through an online course will not be accepted. Applicants are responsible for all costs associated with obtaining ACLS certification.

General Instructions

Program application language: English

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
• Passport page showing Canadian Citizenship
• Canadian Permanent Resident Card (both sides of card)
• Canadian Citizenship Card (both sides of card)

All applicants must be Canadian Citizens or Permanent Residents at the time of application and must submit a notarized/certified photocopy of one of the documents listed above. Please note that a copy of both sides of the Canadian Citizenship card or Permanent Resident card is required.

No other forms of verification will be accepted. Proof of citizenship must be current when file review opens and expired documents will not be accepted.

Language proficiency
Submit one of the following documents to verify your language proficiency:
• Occupational English Test (OET) - Medicine
• Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) - General

CMG/USMG applicants who completed their medical education in an English medical school in Canada or the US are not required to submit proof of English language proficiency. 

Canadian applicants with medical education from the University of Montreal, Sherbrooke, Laval, and the University of Ottawa (French stream) are required to meet the English language proficiency requirements of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan. Applicants from French-speaking schools are required to complete one of the following language exams, or demonstrate other proof of English proficiency acceptable to CPSS. Applicants who are required to complete a language exam must submit a valid test score to CaRMS by the program rank order deadline. Please note that test scores must be valid as of July 1, 2022. Applicants who do not provide acceptable proof of language proficiency by the program rank order deadline will not be ranked. 

CPSS will accept valid test scores from one of the following language exams:

  • IELTS academic version and achieved a minimum of 7.0 in each of the components; or
  • OET-medicine version and achieved a minimum grade of B; or
  • CELPIP – General and achieved a minimum grade of 9 in all sections.

Alternative proof of language proficiency: CMG applicants attending a French speaking medical school and who completed high school in Canada with instruction entirely in English are required to submit their Canadian high school transcript as part of their CaRMS application if they would like to request an exemption from the CPSS English language requirement.

Applicants should not contact CPSS directly about their eligibility for licensure. Please direct any questions about language requirements or eligibility to

Reference documents
Number requested: 3

Three letters of reference will be accepted, preferably from physicians or scientists who have an academic position and are well acquainted with an applicant's clinical and/or research capabilities.

Additional documents
Medical School Transcript 

Order from your Registrar

Medical Student Performance Record 

Order from your Dean's office

Personal Letter 
Word count
Minimum : None
Maximum : None

A personal letter is required. The candidate should introduce him/herself, indicate career interests and goals and any relevant experiance or exposure to the field of neurosurgery.

CASPer exam 

All applicants must complete the Casper test (Altus Suite) - a standardized, two-part online assessment of non-cognitive skills, interpersonal characteristics, and personal values. To complete the Casper test (Altus Suite) visit to create an account and for more information on test dates and requirements, and the Altus Suite assessments. Test dates are also listed under Saskatchewan provincial criteria. Please note these are a limited number of test dates available and no additional tests will be scheduled.

Note: Test scores are only valid for the match cycle in which the exam was taken. If applicants have taken the test in a past match cycle, they must write a new exam for the current match. Applicants who take the test in the 1st iteration of the current match are not eligible to rewrite the test in 2nd iteration.

Custom Résumé / CV 

No specific format is required.

[Note: Photograph is used as memory aid only]

Review Process

Applications submitted after file review has opened on January 31, 2022

Supporting documents (excluding letters of reference) that arrive after file review has opened  on  January 31, 2022

Letters of reference that arrive after the unmasking date on January 31, 2022

Our review team is composed of the Program Director, the Chief Resident, program administrators and designated faculty members.



  • March 11, 2022
Our virtual interviews will be held Friday, March 11, 2022.

Program will notify all applicants through CaRMS Online and will send email invitations directly to applicants selected for an interview.
The interview committee comprises of neurosurgery faculty, residents, nursing, interprofessional personnel, administrators. The interview is comprised of a number of interview panels.  Each candidate selected for an interview will have an opportunity to meet with each of the interview panels.  

Selection Criteria

We are looking for well rounded, mature individuals who exhibit interest in neurosurgery through experience in the form of electives, rotations, or research.  An interest in neuroscience is an asset.  Applicants who are hard working, dedicated, have an enthusiasm to learn as well as adapt to the demands of neurosurgery residency training are encouraged to apply.  Applicants are encouraged to have leadership experience and have demonstrated attributes highlighted in the 2015 CanMEDS roles.  Applicants must be able to excel in team environments.  

Program goals

The University of Saskatchewan offers a well-organized comprehensive training program in Neurosurgery as per the Royal College guidelines.  The program is fully accredited. Our residents will demonstrate exceptional interpersonal skills, clinical skills, surgical skills, leadership skills, research experience and academic excellence.  

Our program strives to train exceptional, well rounded neurosurgeons who are competitive for fellowship positions and job opportunities at the completion of their training program.  

Selection process goals

- Applicants will have an interest in neurosurgery, and have demonstrated this interest by way of rotations, electives, research or other neurosurgery related experience.

- Applicants will have an acceptable academic record which demonstrates both basic proficiency in clinical medicine, and special proficiency in subjects related to neurosurgery.

- Experience in research will be an asset.

- Experience in team work, or leadership will be an asset.

- Applicants will have excellent communication and interpersonal skills.

- Applicants will have demonstrated an ability to interact appropriately with patient and other team members.


File review process

Review team composition : Our review team is composed of the program director, chief resident, program administrators and designated Neurosurgery faculty members.

Average number of applications received by our program in the last five years : 0 - 50

Average percentage of applicants offered interviews : 76 - 100 %
There may be some exceptions.

Evaluation criteria :
File component Criteria
CV We evaluate the content, including research, publications, presentations, and work experience.
Electives Clinical evaluations (in particular those from a neurosurgery rotation or elective).
Examinations All applicants must complete a CASPer exam to be eligible for consideration.
Extra-curricular Activities (example: sports teams or musical interest); Volunteering; Mentoring
Leadership skills Leadership experience (example: holding office in a student government/organization; team coach)
MSPRs Demonstrate interpersonal skills
Personal letters Interest in discipline and program location.
Reference documents Positive interaction with colleagues/patients; Interest in discipline.
Research/Publications Interest, experience and dedication to research.
Transcripts Academic Performance
Other file component(s) CaSPER exam

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.

We encourange applicants to have some exposure to neurosurgery by way of electives, rotations or other experience.  There is no minimum requirement of number of weeks of electives.

We will consider applicants who have not done electives or rotations at the University of Saskatchewan.

Due to COVID-19, it is expected and anticipated that elective experiences are greatly affected and appropriate consideration will be taken when reviewing applications. We wish to assure applicants this will not impact the eligibility of their application during the review and selection process.

Interview process

Interview format :

We routinely accommodate requests to re-schedule interviews for applicants due to weather, technology failure or unforeseen circumstances.

Interview evaluation criteria :
Interview components Criteria
Collaboration skills Promotion of high quality patient care through working in a team environment.
Collegiality Behavior, attitude, ability to work well with others, particularly inter-professional personnel.
Communication skills Ability to speak and write in English .
Health advocacy Demonstrate concern in advocating for patient care, as well as, health care resources.
Interest in the discipline Demonstrate interest in neuroscience, particularly a passion for neurosurgery.
Interest in the program Demonstrate interest in living in Saskatchewan, particularly Saskatoon.
Leadership skills Involvement in the continuous development and improvement of medical care.
Professionalism Behaviour at the interview day, correspondence with administrators or other team members.
Scholarly activities We do not evaluate this interview component.
Other interview component(s) Ability to express oneself clearly and succinctly.

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

Quick Facts

- Competency by Design educational delivery, both in surgical foundations as well as Neurosurgery

- Up to 12 months for research including up to 6 months interprovincial/international electives.

- Home call on Neurosurgery. Call coverage restricted to one hospital.

- Early hands on experience in the operating room.

- Ratio of residents to faculty is about 1:1.

- Pediatrics and spine are integrated into daily work (not a separate rotation).

- Excellent support for attendance at conferences/meetings.

- Masters Program, Ph.D Programs, Royal College Clinical Investigator Program. 

Program Curriculum

This residency program is for 6 years.

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

PGY-1 and 2

These two years include rotations in General Surgery Trauma, Vascular, Ortho Spine, ICU, Plastics, Emergency Medicine, Neurology, and twelve months of the first two years are spent in neurosurgery.

PGY-3 to 6

During the subsequent four years of training, residents complete 30 additional months of clinical neurosurgery (for a total of 42 months). Residents spend three months on neuroradiology and may choose three to six months of neuropathology. Nine to 12 months may be spent in basic or clinical research, or alternatively spent in subspecialty neurosurgical training (i.e. a clinical elective). Up to six months of this 9-12 month block may be spent outside of Saskatchewan (in Canada or internationally).


An optional neurosurgery rotation in Regina is available. Additionally, up to six months may be spent in an interprovincial or international elective (see PGY-3 to 6, above).


Clinical or basic research is strongly supported and encouraged. Research opportunities in spine injury, pediatric neurosurgery, oncology, neural regeneration, stroke, epilepsy surgery, and neurosurgical applications of the synchrotron are readily available. A Masters of Surgery or Ph.D may be obtained through the Department of Graduate Studies or through the Royal College Clinical Investigator Program (

Training Sites

Distributive Learning at the University of Saskatchewan

The College of Medicine, while physically located in Saskatoon, is a provincial resource in attitude and in practice. Postgraduate medical education at the University of Saskatchewan takes seriously its role in supporting quality health care to all people of the province. This means training physicians to meet the needs of, not only urban populations, but also those of rural and remote populations. In so doing, the College of Medicine has developed, and continues to develop, rotations in Regina and other communities. These rotations are designed to provide educational experiences to enhance the resident's knowledge and skills, and take maximum advantage of unique educational opportunities in a diversity of communities. All postgraduate programs are expected to develop and incorporate into their curriculum, rotations in communities other than Saskatoon. The manner in which each program does this is not strictly prescribed by the College of Medicine - but is determined by the Residency Training Committee, taking into consideration the needs of their residents, and the excellent opportunities available in other locations. These rotations continue to evolve as we seek to build stronger and better programs.

Extensive support is available for out of town rotations. The exact nature of this support varies with location and program. The communities involved, individual programs, the College of Medicine, and the Ministry of Health work collaboratively to ensure residents are not financially disadvantaged by the need to relocate.

For residents assigned to short term rotations in Regina, fully furnished private apartments are available (laundry facilities, wi-fi, cable TV) and are located in close proximity to the Regina General Hospital. Residents who bring their children with them for the duration of their rotation, will be housed in family-friendly multi-bedroom apartments.

While all residents are strongly encouraged to take advantage of educational experiences in other communities to ensure a well rounded education, the amount and format of such time is determined by the program committee. Royal College Specialty residents are encouraged to complete 10% - 20% of their training in Regina.