Dalhousie University - Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery - Halifax

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

Last approved on October 04, 2021

Approximate Quota:


Accreditation status : Accredited

Provincial Criteria

Dr. Gerard Corsten
Surgery - Division of Otolaryngology 
VG Site, 3rd Floor, Dickson Bldg. 
5820 University Avenue
Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3H 1V7
(902) 470-7391
(902) 425-3857
Dalhousie University - Division of Otolaryngology

Program Contacts

Ms. Brenda Oake
Program Assistant
(902) 473-2737

Dr. Gerard Corsten
Program Director

General Instructions

Program application language: English

Applicants are assessed in a two-step process:

1. File Review

All applicants will be independently scored by the selection committee and a composite score based on the individual scores will be produced. The top 16 - 20 applicants will be invited for an interview. The file review will comprise 50% of the final candidate mark. Scoring will be based on academic achievement, scholarly activity (research and education), extracurricular activities and reference letters.


2. Interview

Interviews will take place via video conferencing software for all candidates due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, our regular interview format outlined below will continue to apply. A separate virtual meeting room will be set up on interview day for presentations and question/answer session with residents and the program director.

A multi mini interview format will be used with all candidates cycled through stations of 2 interviewers. Each interview station will follow a general theme. Each interviewer will score each candidate and a composite score will be developed based on these scores. The total interview score will comprise 50% of the candidate mark.



Supporting Documentation

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)


You must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident at the time of application.

Reference documents
Number requested: 3

Three letters of reference are required, and must be written by faculty members/physicians who directly supervised the candidates. Letters must be in accordance with CaRMS criteria.

Additional documents
Medical School Transcript 

Medical Student Performance Record 

Order from your Dean's office

Personal Letter 
Word count
Minimum : None
Maximum : None

This introductory letter and personal statement should not exceed 500 words. Your autobiographical letter should answer the following questions: - Why you have chosen Otolaryngology as your professional career? - What experiences in your past have led you to choose this specialty? - What personal attributes you possess that fit you for this career? - What aspects of our program are important to you? - Where and in what type of community you would prefer to practice upon completions of your training?

[Note: Photograph is used as memory aid only]

Optional - will be reviewed
Custom Résumé / CV 


Extra documents such as a publication abstract, or thesis summary not exceeding 2 pages will be reviewed. Full papers will not be reviewed.

Ophthalmological Report 

This document is not mandatory for an application to our program, but we will accept it if you submit it for our review.

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

The Program Selection Committee is comprised of divisional staff members and residents.  Members of the Program Selection Committee will review all applications electronically.  Each member will score the applications according to preset criteria.  A short list will be developed by pooling the scoring of all committee members.  Applicants who made it for the short list will be invited by email for interview as clarified in the appropriate section.  The interview process will involve multiple mini interviews with members of the selection committee.



  • March 2, 2022
Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Program will notify all applicants through CaRMS Online and will send email invitations directly to applicants selected for an interview.
The Program Assistant will contact short listed candidates by February 22, 2022. Interviews will be held Wednesday, March 2, 2022.

Telephone interviews are not an option.

Interviews are conducted by the Program Selection Committee, which is comprised of staff and residents, by a video conferencing platform. No in person interviews will happen in 2022. There will be multiple interview stations, with candidates rotating through all stations virtually.  There will be an informal time to virtually meet with residents and administrative staff throughout the day of the interview. A virtual presentation about the facility and program will be made available to interested candidates. This will help the candidate in his/her ranking of programs.

Selection Criteria

Program goals

To provide adequate facilites for teaching in the basic sciences, clinical and surgical aspects of Otolaryngology. To provide background in the sciences basic to the understanding of otolaryngologic diseases through an organized academic program of seminars, rounds and journal clubs. To provide proper training in medical Otolaryngology disorders through patient exposure on the wards, outpatient clinics, Emergency Department and Intensive Care Unit. To create a scientific atmospher by inviting discussions through visiting professor programs, guest lectures, grand rounds, teaching, seminars and journal clubs. To provide the means to develop technical proficiency and surgical skills in Otolaryngologic surgery thorugh supervised exposure in the operating room, minor surgery in the clinics, cadaver surgery in the amantomy laboratory and the temporal bone lab. To provide adequate clinical and basic research opportunities. To encourage a multidisciplinary approach to patient managment in various areas such as neurotology, Head & Neck oncology and communication disorders and dysphagia.

Selection process goals

Ability to interact appropriately with patients and colleagues in a collegial environment

Interest in Otolaryngology and develop into skilled surgeons and clinicans

Demonstrates abilites in all areas of the CanMEDS roles

Demonstrates ability and enthusiasm to learn and able to adapt to the various demands on an Otolaryngologist

Our program and university value the importance of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in residency education, and achieving a diverse and inclusive group of residents is a goal in our selection process.

Demonstrates the interest and ability for various research opportunities

File review process

Review team composition : Comprised of divisional ENT staff members and senior residents at Dalhousie University

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

Average percentage of applicants offered interviews : 51 - 75 %

Evaluation criteria :
File component Criteria
CV Optional: Evaluate content, including research, publications, electives and awards
Electives Experience in ENT or related fields, clinical performance
Examinations We do not evaluate this file component.
Extra-curricular Demonstration of interest outside of medicine
Leadership skills Experience in medical and non-medical leadership
MSPRs Academic performance
Personal letters Interest in discipline and program location, or other issues candidates want to highlight
Reference documents Qualities as expressed in the CanMEDS competencies
Research/Publications Interest in participating in future research projects
Transcripts Academic performance

Elective criteria

We encourage applicants to have completed electives in our discipline at any location.
We do not require applicants to have done onsite electives.

Interview process

Interview format :

We routinely accommodate requests to re-schedule interviews for applicants.

Interview evaluation criteria :
Interview components Criteria
Collaboration skills Promotion of high-quality patient care through working in a team environment
Collegiality Behaviour, attitude, ability to work well with others
Communication skills Articulate and effective professional communication
Health advocacy Interest in health advocacy
Interest in the discipline Demonstrated experience in Otolaryngology care
Interest in the program Training goals aligned with our medium sized training program in a medium sized city
Leadership skills Demonstrates success in leadership opportunities
Professionalism Respectful and ethical professional conduct
Scholarly activities We do not evaluate this interview component (evaluated via file review)

Information gathered outside of CaRMS application

We do not consider any information gathered outside of the CaRMS application and local interview processes.

Ranking process

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

Program Highlights

Academic Half Day

Lectures and seminars covering a comprehensive academic curriculum, which is updated yearly, take place during the protected academic half-day every Wednesday afternoon. The academic curriculum covers all areas of the specialty as well as various CanMEDS roles and runs over a two-year cycle.


Other Academic Activities

Apart from the academic half-day, the program includes an array of activities outlined in the yearly academic calendar, including multidisciplinary H & N oncology rounds, grand rounds, journal club, visiting professor program, communication disorders program, radiology rounds, pathology rounds, anatomical dissections, research seminar program, auditory neuroscience program.

We have 4 days annually of cadaveric surgery sessions in our surgical skills lab.

Residents are afforded the opportunity to attend multiple courses throughout their residency funded by the program. This includes temporal bone dissection, endoscopic sinus surgery, ENT bootcamp, Exam review course & other courses/meetings as appropriate.

For more details of our current academic activities, please check our website:


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.

Program Overview

As similar to all Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery programs across Canada, our program has transitioned to a Competency By Design Education Format.

Entry to Otolaryngology at Dalhousie starts at the PGY-1 level in Core Surgery for two years divided into four-week or eight-week rotations. The core program is a Dalhousie based co-operative joint program among various surgical subspecialties. The PGY-1 year is coordinated by the Office of Postgraduate Medical Education of the Faculty of Medicine while the PGY-2 year is coordinated by the Office of Education of the Department of Surgery.  Residents in Otolaryngology are under the joint supervision of the Core Program and the Division of Otolaryngology. In-Training Evaluation Reports are regularly reviewed by the Otolaryngology Program Director.

Rotations for Otolaryngology residents are structured  to provide maximum benefit and preparation to the practice of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery. A wide array of didactic teaching is offered throughout the program including, but not limited to, the academic half-day day program featuring a comprehensive well structured multidisciplinary curriculum covering all aspects of the discipline over a two year cycle.  The following is a detailed description of the program:

Typical rotations include: General Surgery, Otolaryngology, Emergency, Thoracic Surgery, Anesthesia, Neurosurgery, Infectious Diseases, Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery

Typical rotations include: Plastic Surgery, Intensive Care, Otolaryngology

The entire PGY-3 year will be spent rotating on various subspecialites of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck surgery at the Victoria General Hospital, IWK, and Dartmouth General Hospital.

Courses in Endoscopic Sinus Surgery and Temporal Bone Dissection are required during the residency, and are typically taken during the PGY3 year. Funding for these courses and travel amounts are provided by the department.

The entire PGY4 year will be spent rotation on various subspecialties of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery at the Victoria General Hospital, IWK and Dartmouth General Hospital. Elective rotations are typically taken during the PGY4 year for 2-4 months; these may be chosen at the resident's area of interest with approval of the Program Director in sites throughout the Dalhousie system or at other university centres.

The objective here is to further develop and fine-tune the resident's skills in Head and Neck, Plastic/Reconstructive Surgery and Otology fields and to offer exposure in the senior level for community based practice with ample hands on experience.

The entire PGY5 year will be spent rotation on various subspecialties of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck surgery at the Victoria General Hospital, IWK, and Dartmouth General Hospital.

Residents at this level are expected to function more independently and participate more actively in teaching and supervising more junior colleagues whenever possible. This final year is an opportunity for perfecting previously acquired surgical skills with ample hands-on experience, as well as final preparation for the RCPSC examination.

All residents must complete a basic or clinical research project during each year of their Otolaryngology training. These projects are presented at the Divisional Resident Research Day Competition in the spring. The best projects of the year will compete at the Departmental, Faculty and National levels. Protected time for research and/or research rotations are provided as needed.

Fellowship Programs

Our program currently offers fellowship programs for an additional year of training in Otology/Neuro-otology and Head and Neck Surgery. The fellows work collaboratively with the residents and staff to enhance the care and teaching environment.

Training Sites

Residents rotate through the various institutions affiliated with Dalhousie University: QEII Health Sciences Centre (Halifax Infirmary, Victoria General Hospital, NS Cancer Centre), IWK Health Centre, Dartmouth General Hospital, Hants Community Hospital. Community-based elective rotations are available in St. John, NB, Fredericton, NB, Moncton, NB, Sydney, NS or Kentville, NS.

Our Temporal Bone Lab offers two dissection stations with digital video recording, microscope mounted digital video cameras connected to large flat TV monitors to facilitate supervision by mentors and detailed feedback.  A year-specific temporal bone surgical dissection curriculum has been developed by our faculty otologists who oversee the lab and directly supervise the residents.

The Department of Surgery Skills lab is a State-of-the-Art multidisciplinary facility is available to all programs all year round for teaching and practicing surgical skills including Head & Neck Surgery, microvascular surgery, Endoscopic surgery to name a few.

Apart from the funded temporal bone dissection course and endoscopic sinus surgery course, funding is provided to residents annually to attend other approved meetings and courses for educational purposes or to present research.


NOTE: All residency programs are required to have 10% of their residency training outside of Halifax Regional Municipality as stipulated in the most recent Academic Funding Plan set out by the Department of Health and Wellness. Please be aware that if matched to Halifax, as part of your training you may be expected to complete rotations outside central zone but within the maritime provinces.


Do I need to do an elective to be considered as an applicant?

No. We will consider all applicants regardless of completing an elective in our institution.


I did not do an elective, should I book a meeting with the program director?

This is not necessary. See also general instructions. There is an opportunity for all candidates during the interview process, to learn everything about the program.


Do I need an eye exam to demonstrate stereoscopic vision?

Our program does not require this but will consider a document if you have it.