University of Calgary - Neuropathology - Calgary

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

Last approved on January 07, 2022

Summary of changes

Approximate Quota:


Accreditation status : Accredited

Provincial Criteria

Dr. Denise Ng
Pathology & Laboratory Medicine 
Foothills Hospital - McCaig Tower 
Room 7573, 7th Floor, 1403 - 29th Street NW
Calgary, Alberta, T2N2T9
(403) 944-4639
(403) 944-1460
University of Calgary - Neuropathology

Program Contacts

Denise Ng
Program Director

Kristy Campbell
Program Administrator

Important Information

Because of the structure of the health regions in Alberta and Calgary, all of the neuropathology for the greater Calgary region is directed to two sites, located at the Foothills Medical Centre and at Alberta Children's Hospital. This program has a dedicated neuropathology laboratory with expertise in processing and staining nervous system and muscle tissues located at Foothills Medical Centre. The neuropathology laboratory receives neuropathology specimens from all of Calgary and in the case of medical muscle biopsy, from all of southern Alberta.

All Alberta laboratories were amalgamated recently into Alberta Precision Laboratories. This has resulted in significant improvements in our pathology residency training program with an increased degree of staff specialization, greater participation in teaching for all 85 Calgary pathologists, and a common laboratory database serving our catchment area of over one million people.

Neuropathology has a strong relationship with the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the Foothills Medical Centre and Alberta Children's Hospital. In addition, the University of Calgary also has a world-class basic neuroscience research program, including the Hotchkiss Brain Institute. These close ties afford significant educational, academic, and research opportunities for neuropathology residents.


General Instructions

Program application language: English

Useful Electives/Experience:

 Neuropathology, Anatomical Pathology, Adult Neurology, Neurosurgery, Neuro-Radiology; Pediatric Neurology or other neuroscience or pathology related field.

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.
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)
Language proficiency
Submit one of the following documents to verify your language proficiency:

IELTS is required by CPSA for candidates from medical schools in Quebec except for candidates from McGill.  Please check CPSA for ELP updates.

Reference documents
Number requested: 3
Additional documents
[Note: Photograph is used as memory aid only]

Custom Résumé / CV 

Personal Letter 

Optional - will be reviewed
Medical School Diploma 

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



  • February 27, 2022
Interview dates for the 2022 Match will be February 28th & March 1st, 2022

Program will notify all applicants through CaRMS Online and will send email invitations directly to applicants selected for an interview.
The program administrator will contact all selected candidates to arrange for interviews. Applicants are encouraged to confirm interviews as early as possible. Telephone interviews are permitted in extenuating circumstances but are not encouraged.

All interviews for the 2021 Match will be held virtually on the Zoom Platform with residents and other members of the Neuropathology Residency Training Program Committee.

Selection Criteria

Good to strong academic record.

Demonstrated interest in neuropathology (for example by prior undergraduate work in neuroscience, graduate level study of neuroscience, rotations in neurology, neurosurgery, and pathology, or rotation(s) in neuropathology).

Program goals

The program aims to train future neuropathologists whose career goals may include any part or combination of the full spectrum of practice in Canada. In addition to clinical practice competencies achieved through broad-based training, nurturing skills for future activity in research and medical education are also emphasized. Foundations will be laid for advocacy and development of the discipline by participating in the discipline’s regional, national or international activities and working with other physicians and allied health colleagues in the setting of interdisciplinary rounds, clinical correlation rounds and quality assurance activities. The program aims to cultivate core skills in communication and teamwork with high standards of professionalism. Instilling lifelong learning skills will also benefit future graduates as they navigate the changing medical landscape and a diversity of career paths.

Date of last accreditation: 2020

Selection process goals

  • Documented interest and experience in neuropathology, neuroscience, or pathology
  • Aptitude for pathology (strong evaluations from pathology elective(s) and at least one letter of reference from a pathologist/neuropathologist)
  • Broad and well-rounded medical knowledge (strong medical school performance and/or examination scores)
  • Excellent written and spoken skills in English as well as non-verbal communication skills
  • Evidence of research and teaching ability
  • Desirable personal attributes such as collegiality, teamwork skills, leadership skills, conflict management ability, and time management skills
  • Professionalism attributes include integrity, reliability, collegiality, resilience, punctuality and responsibility


File review process

Review team composition : All staff neuropathologists and neuropathology residents participate in file review, interview selection discussion, interviews, and final applicant discussions. This team includes the Program Director, Assistant Program Director and all neuropathology residents.

Average number of applications received by our program in the last five years : 0 - 50
Less than 20

Average percentage of applicants offered interviews : 51 - 75 %

Evaluation criteria :
File component Criteria
CV Elective time; observershps; or research in Neuropathology and in related areas; written skills
Electives Elective experiences were severely limited due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, we will not be considering electives in file review to ensure file review is fair and equitable for all candidates.
Examinations We do not evaluate this file component
Extra-curricular Extra-curricular activities are important for mental health and reflects a well-rounded candidate
Leadership skills Activities reflecting candidate initiative and ability to work in a team setting to achieve goals
MSPRs Features supportive of professionalism, ethical behavior, and collegiality are required.
Personal letters Communication skills (fluency,precision), candidate's interest in the discipline/program and insight
Reference documents At least one letter of reference from a pathologist/neuropathologist
Research/Publications Should reflect interest or experience in research activity;
Transcripts A variety of undergraduate backgrounds are welcome in the program

Elective criteria

Elective experiences were severely limited due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, we will not be considering electives in file review to ensure file review is fair and equitable for all candidates.
We do not require applicants to have done onsite electives.

We look at the entire candidate to determine i) their interest in neuropathology (based on prior experience), ii) their ability to learn academic subjects such as pathology and neuroanatomy, and iii) their personal interactions with others. We encourage applicants to have some exposure to neuropathology or pathology which can be over Zoom or socially distanced so they come with an active knowledge of this specialty. We do not, however, encourage a complete set of narrow rotations in clinical neurosciences, since we believe that a well-rounded education is the best preparation for neuropathology.

Interview process

Interview format :

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

Interview evaluation criteria :
Interview components Criteria
Collaboration skills Personal attributes/experiences in teamwork
Collegiality Personal attributes/experiences that contribute to the workplace culture, self-awareness
Communication skills Proficient comprehension with expression reflecting deliberation and precision
Health advocacy We do not evaluate this interview component
Interest in the discipline Understands scope of the discipline and daily work; enthusiasm for neurosciences
Interest in the program Understands features of the program that support personal career goals
Leadership skills Initiative or creativity in problem solving and/or teamwork
Professionalism Experiences in conflict management and attributes of physician responsibility/ethics
Scholarly activities Activities/goals in research/medical education with an awareness of possible career paths

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

Almost all material from our catchment area is examined at one location, in the McCaig Tower at the Foothills Medical Centre, Important relationships with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and Alberta Childrens' Hospital for forensic and Pediatric Neuropath are accessible within a 30 minute walk from the main site. The Neuropathology lab, the neuropathologists and neuropathology residents are all located in one wing of one floor (along with anatomical pathology) facilitating interactions with Anatomical Pathology and General Pathology programs. The Foothills Medical Centre is located approximately 6 km from downtown Calgary. Calgary is located near the Canadian Rocky Mountains and is only a 1 hour drive from Banff with easy access to a variety of outdoor activities, both summer and winter.

Calgary is a vibrant and growing city of slightly greater than 1 million people. The city and our department reflect a culture of diversity and inclusion.

Strengths of program:

Five neuropathologists practice neuropathology at the University of Calgary. Three are primarily clinical neuropathologists and two participate in significant bench research in Neuro-Oncology.  All are actively engaged in undergraduate/postgraduate teaching. There are at present three neuropathology trainees and a constant flux of neurology, neurosurgery and pathology trainees rotating through neuropathology. The workload comprises adult, pediatric and perinatal neuropathology including surgical material, autopsy material and peripheral nerve and muscle biopsies, supplemented by a diverse teaching slide set.

Other Key Features:

Neurosciences are a major focus of the University of Calgary with a wide variety of bench and translational research providing exceptional opportunity for interaction amongst the various disciplines of the neurosciences including neurosurgery, adult neurology, pediatric neurology, and neuroradiology.

Common Clinical Encounters:

The Neuropathology service comprises intra-operative consultation, surgical pathology specimens, muscle biopsies, peripheral nerve biopsies, and autopsies (adult, perinatal and pediatric). The autopsy service includes neurodegenerative, medical, and forensic cases. Neuropathologists and residents participate in or present at frequent clinical rounds, including clinical correlation rounds, brain tumour boards and quality assurance activities.



Clinic (hrs/wk)

Reading (hrs/wk)



Clinical Rotations Ad libidum As per PARA; limited call-back


Anatomical Pathology; 40 hrs

Ad libidum

Home call 1 week at a time, 1 week per month


Research and/or Clinical Neuropathology; 40 hrs

At least 10 hours minimum is recommended

Home call 1 week at a time, 1 week/per block

Portion of PGY5 (optional)

Research and/or Clinical Neuropathology; 40 hrs

Ad libidum

As per PARA; limited call-back

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.

This is a Pre CBD curriculum.

Curriculum    The neuropathology training must include one year of basic clinical training.  Our pre-specialty clinical year is designed to meet the requirements of our specialty program and, in addition, prepare the resident for the Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Exam, Part II.







Orientation Laboratory Medicine

4 weeks


4 weeks

Neurooncology/Neurology Clinics

4 weeks


4 weeks

Pediatric Neurology

4 weeks

Paediatric Oncology

4 weeks

Surgical Oncology

4 weeks


4 weeks


4 weeks


4 weeks


4 weeks


4 weeks

Internal Medicine

4 weeks



A year of clinical training in an internal medicine training program or a variety of clinical rotations to be approved at discretion of program director is an acceptable option.


The PGY2 year includes experience in general surgical pathology, autopsy and forensic pathology.  Expectations for neuropathology trainees are similar to those for first year anatomic pathology residents.


Two of the three years of neuropathology training (PGY 3 & 4) are spent acquiring, with carefully graded responsibility, specialty-specific expertise and teaching and management skills.  Trainees will also gain experience in neuropathological applications of new technology including immunopathology, molecular pathology, electron microscopy and flow cytometry.  Additional blocks of more specialized pathology of relevance to Neuropathology practice including Pediatric Pathology, Hematopathology and Cytology are also included.


The remaining year (PGY5) is an elective year which may be adapted to the interest and skills of the individual resident and may include service, clinical or research rotations.


There are active research programs in neurodegenerative disorders, neuroregeneration, cerebral ischemia and neuro-oncology.  Active participation by trainees in one or another research program will be strongly encouraged. 

Clinical research such as publication/conference presentation of interesting case studies/series is expected.


Residents have the opportunity to participate in teaching medical students, occasionally nurses and other health professionals as well as their resident peers.

Training Sites

General Aspects

Neuropathology in the Calgary Zone is centralized under Alberta Precision Laboratories (APL) South Sector. The neuropathology laboratory and most of the neuropathology training occurs at the Foothills Medical Centre, McCaig Tower.  Additional sites of training include Alberta Children's Hospital (training in paediatric neuropathology) and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (forensic neuropathology).

The dedicated neuropathology laboratory processes all of the autopsies and surgical specimens, all nerve and muscle biopsies, and most of the special stains unique to neuropathology. Surgical neuropathology specimens and brain autopsies from most of Southern Alberta are handled by the Calgary neuropathology group.

Our Program Director, Dr. Denise Ng, was appointed Program Director in 2017.  In addition to being a Royal College Fellow in Neuropathology, she is also a Royal College Fellow in Anatomical Pathology.  She is also a Fellow in the College of American Pathologists with completion of her American Board of Pathology Certification in Anatomic Pathology and Neuropathology.  All staff pathologists show main academic interests in teaching with active participation in transitioning to Competency By Design.  To meet the demands of the ever-expanding field of the clinical neurosciences, the University of Calgary Neuropathology Training Program is constantly undergoing transition to ensure best practises are brought forward.

 Features of the program include:

i) encouragement for residents to be involved in research (basic and clinical),

ii) development of new teaching tools, including virtual microscopy,

iii) training in molecular diagnostics and other molecular techniques,

iv) improved longitudinal clinical exposures in paediatric and forensic neuropathology, and;

v) progressive or graded responsibility for the resident, commensurate with their training and competency.

The program aims to be dynamic; to that end, we expect the neuropathology resident to participate in quality improvement processes for the program including active engagement in the residency training program through their chief resident duties and program meeting discussions.

The goal of our program is to graduate competent surgical and autopsy neuropathologists who will advance the discipline of neuropathology by their involvement in service, academics, research, and education.

Training Sites

- Foothills Medical Centre (FMC)

- Alberta Children's Hospital (ACH)

- Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME)

- Diagnostic and Scientific Centre (DSC)

- Rockyview General Hospital (RGH)

- Peter Lougheed Centre (PLC)

- South Health Campus (SHC)

Additional Information

Quick Facts

- Interprovincial and international electives are possible.  Each request for training outside the province is reviewed individually and approved by the Neuropathology Residency Program Committee.

- The neuropathology program in Calgary currently has five neuropathologists on staff.

- The residents' room is equipped with individual computers, microscopes, ergonomic desks, library of reference material, access to electronic medical records and resources, and equipment for preparing presentations or rounds including dedicated cameras.

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada: Applying competency-based practices to 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.

CBD will use time as a framework rather than the basis for progression. It is not anticipated that the duration of training will change for the majority of 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.

The Royal College anticipates that all specialty and subspecialty programs in Canada will adopt CBD in gradual phases. All disciplines have been divided into seven cohort groups, each of which will adopt CBD at different times. It is anticipated that national implementation of CBD within certain, individual programs could begin in July 2017 - with more disciplines to following in subsequent years.

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



Summary of changes

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