McMaster University - General Surgery - Hamilton

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

Last approved on January 19, 2022

Summary of changes

Approximate Quota:


Accreditation status : Accredited

Provincial Criteria

Dr. Ilun Yang
Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre 
711 Concession St. - B3/Rm. 143
Hamilton, ON L8V 1C3, Ontario
(289) 440-6904
Department of Surgery

Program Contacts

Katie Niblock
Program Coordinator

Dr. Ilun Yang
Associate Program Director
9055212100 x43850

Dr. Michael Marcaccio
Program Director
(905) 521-2100, ext. 76241

Important Information

Students who wish to speak with the Program Director about the program can contact Katie Niblock at  The Program Director will be happy to discuss the program over the phone or virtually.

Please refer to the CaRMS website for provincial eligibility information CaRMS Ontario Provincial Criteria.  It is important to review the requirements carefully.

 To learn more about the program, upcoming informational events and the McMaster PGME community please visit:

General Instructions

Program application language: English

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.
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)
• Canadian Citizenship Card (both sides of card)

Proof of valid current citizenship or permanent resident status must be provided by submitting one of the following verifications to CaRMS by the File Review Opening 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/Act of Birth issued by an authority in Canada accompanied by photo ID (must be valid Canadian government-issued photo ID).
  2. Documents must be notarized/certified photocopies. Notarized/certified copies must not be older than two years from the application submission deadline; otherwise, a new notarized/certified copy is required.
  3. Confirmation of permanent residence must be accompanied by a photo ID (must be a valid Canadian government-issued photo ID).
Reference documents
Number requested: 3
Additional documents
Personal Letter 
Word count
Minimum : None
Maximum : None

Custom Résumé / CV 

Medical School Transcript 

Order from your Registrar. 

Medical Student Performance Record 

Order from your Dean's Office

Conditionally required
Medical School Diploma 

Please note: Required if Medical school has been completed.

Optional - will be reviewed

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



  • March 10, 2022
  • March 11, 2022
Interviews will be held virtually on March 10-11, 2022. 

  • Niagara Stream Interviews - March 10, 2022
  • Hamilton Stream Interviews - March 11, 2022
Program will notify all applicants through CaRMS Online and will send email invitations directly to applicants selected for an interview.
Formal interviews will be granted to candidates shortlisted after review of complete applications by the Residency Education Committee. The Program will notify all applicants through CaRMS Online and will send email invitations directly to applicants selected for an interview. The interview consists of two 15 minute interviews with 2-3 surgeons and a resident. The content of the interview includes a review of the application file and an invitation to the applicant to demonstrate coherent interest in surgery as a subject and McMaster University in particular. 

Selection Criteria

Candidates will be graded on the content of their letter of application; the strength of their references; the academic record; and the demonstration of their interest in our surgical training program when interviewed.

Applicants are encouraged to provide a head shot picture of themselves to be used as a memory aid during the selection process.

Program goals

The program aspires to help residents determine which of the many types of career that are possible within General Surgery best fits their interests and goals, and provide them with the knowledge and skills required to be successful in their chosen career. The program will have the flexibility to allow for rotations tailored to meet the individual learning needs of our residents and the requirements of the Royal College for certification in General Surgery. Residents successfully completing the program will be well prepared for the next phase of their career, whether that be transition directly to practice in a range of practice settings or advanced clinical or academic training. Thus, our graduates successfully practice across the entire spectrum of General Surgery from isolated, small rural hospitals to complex tertiary care hospitals and Academic Health Science Centers.  We function in an atmosphere of collaboration where all participants contribute to the success of the program.

Selection process goals

Our process seeks to identify candidates who are well suited to a career in General Surgery and a good fit for the collaborative culture of our program. Successful applicants will have an excellent understanding of what General Surgery offers to them that other specialties do not, and how their personal strengths align with the attributes required to succeed in General Surgery. They will demonstrate willingness to engage in the process of continuous improvement, both in their own development and within the broader health care system including our learning environment. They will demonstrate the ability to take full advantage of the learning opportunities that are offered. They will demonstrate their commitment to collaboration, patient care and a healthy balance between their professional and personal lives. Their stated career goals will be supported by the material contained in their application.

File review process

Review team composition : Each file is completely reviewed and scored (using a standardized list) by 1 or 2 faculty, 1 or 2 residents and the Program Director. 60 applicants are then selected for interview.

Average number of applications received by our program in the last five years : 51 - 200
100 - 150 applications are reviewed to identify the 60 candidates who will be invited to interview.

Average percentage of applicants offered interviews : 26 - 50 %

Evaluation criteria :
File component Criteria
CV Capacity to learn, support for described interests and skills
Electives Appropriate exploration of career choice
Examinations We do not evaluate this file component.
Extra-curricular Collaboration, leadership, work/life balance, judgement
Leadership skills Demonstration of collaborative skills
MSPRs reviewed
Personal letters Reasons for choice of General Surgery, a good sense of who the applicant is, knowledge of our program
Reference documents Referees that truly know the applicant
Research/Publications Concordance with career goals
Transcripts Any concerns with regards to professionalism; adequate academic achievement

Elective criteria

We recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted candidates' opportunities to arrange and complete electives and would like to reassure you that a lack of elective activity this year will not negatively impact your application to our program

Interview process

Interview format :

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

Interview evaluation criteria :
Interview components Criteria
Collaboration skills Will be supportive of fellow learners, work effectively with other health professionals, work with educational and hospital leaders to optimize learning and patient care.
Collegiality Appreciation of the needs of others
Communication skills Organized thinking, clarity
Health advocacy Health promotion, health protection, quality improvement, etc.
Interest in the discipline A true understanding of the specialty and your suitability for this career
Interest in the program An real understanding of what our program offers and how it aligns with your values and needs
Leadership skills Decisiveness within a collaborative process; how you empower those that you lead
Professionalism Ethics, understanding of professional standards
Scholarly activities Commitment to the work required to succeed

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 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.

General Surgery is a five-year program. Years one and two comprise the Surgical Foundations Program.

All candidates at the completion of the surgical foundations program will be regarded as eligible to take the Principles of Surgery Examination which for general surgery must be successfully completed prior to applying for the final examination.


  • General Surgery 8 blocks (2 of these are on Trauma/ACS at Lead Trauma site)
  • 1 Block 'Rookie Camp/Transition to Residency'
  • 2 blocks Pediatric Surgery
  • 1 Block of CTU or Peri-op Medicine 
  • 1 block of ER (or 2nd block of Medicine)

Advice: All rotation choices should be discussed ahead of time with the program director, as part of the overall plan for future surgical training.


  • 7 blocks General Surgery, including 2 blocks Acute Care Surgery
  • 3 blocks of GI Endoscopy
  • 3 blocks ICU


23 blocks structured to support resident's career goals. Includes 2 blocks of community surgery for all, additional blocks of community surgery or exploration of fellowship/subspecialty interest, rotations in other surgical subspecialties (i.e. Thoracic Surgery, Vascular, Head & Neck, Urology, Plastics, etc.), Research and Global Surgery. Includes 4 blocks of ACS.




14 blocks of 'Chief Residency' starting in block 11 of PGY4. Rotations are 3-4 blocks each and are chosen based on learning needs/career goals. Includes 1 block of study time for written component of RCPSC Certification Exam.  2 blocks of 'Transition to Practice'. Clinical activities assigned that support needs for entering practice or preparing for fellowship. Includes time to prepare for RCPSC Applied (oral) exam.


We have a comprehensive formal academic curriculum which includes weekly General Surgery seminars ( Surgical Foundations for PGY1, separate level specific seminars for PGY2/3 and PGY4/5), robust simulation activities and courses in all years ( ie. ATLS, Critical Resource Management, CMAS basic and advanced, ATOM, GI Endoscopy),  PGME required events and regional and site based rounds. This is updated annually, with input from residentsguiding the annual schedules for the various components.



The program requires completion of 2 research projects during residency. This is guided by the Program Research Director, who meets with residents early in PGY1 to begin the process. Infrastructue support such as statistical analysis is available, as well as several funding mechanisms. Residents may schedule a research block when required for completion of their projects.

 We also offer opportunities for formal academic training such as a Masters or PhD degree. The Surgeon Scientist Program assists residents who wish to apply for a position in the McMaster Clinician Investigator Program. While highly competitive, our residents have had good success in securing a position. An alternative is to do a 1 year program such as an MPH (while our residents have completed a number of quite diverse programs, the MPH at Harvard has been a particular favorite). The program has an endowment (The Charles and Margaret Juravinski Fellowship) that provides funding support for such endeavour through a competitive internal selection process.

Training Sites


McMaster University Postgraduate Programs are integrated in cooperation with the affiliated teaching hospitals and therefore there is no primary base hospital. We provide access to electronic medical resources for residents at all hospitals. The following hospitals are used for mandatory or elective rotations: Hamilton Health Sciences (McMaster University Medical Centre, Hamilton General Hospital, Juravinski Hospital); St. Joseph's Hospital; community hospitals.

  • The McMaster site, Hamilton Health Sciences is a center for the Childrens' Hospital and pediatric surgery as well as pediatric trauma.
  • The General site, Hamilton Health Sciences is the location of the Adult Trauma Centre, along with Cardiac Surgery, Vascular Surgery and Neurosurgery.
  • The Juravinski site of the Hamilton Health Sciences is the location at which oncology and general surgery occur and is affiliated with the Regional Cancer Centre.  This site has the Regional HPB program, Colorectal and Breast Surgery, and is the location of the Cancer Care Ontario regional facility, along with the Malignant Hematology program.
  • St. Joseph's Hospital is the site of the regional Bariatric Program, has a strong focus in Minimally Invasive Surgery including the Center for Minimal Access Surgery (General Surgery residents have access to this resource throughout their residency). Regional programs in Thoracic Surgery, Head and Neck Surgery and the Nephrology program are located here.

All 3 adult hospitals have active emergency rooms and robust general Medicine and Surgery activity. Each site has a general Surgery Acute Service (combined with Trauma at HGH), and Medicine CTU's along with all the usual supporting services such as ICU. All sites have access to a laparoscopic simulator for resident use at any time.

There are many hospitals that support our community rotations. There are several locally and within the broader region, including our satellite campuses in Niagara (site of our Niagara residency program) and Kitchener-Waterloo. However, we are able to facilitate these rotations in virtually any location, and our residents have completed rotations in every province in Canada. 

Additional Information

Assessment - The resident receives frequent workplace-based assessments (WBA) using the entrustable professional activities (EPAs) and milestones set out in the Royal College Competence by Design (CBD) framework. In addition, the resident receives formal feedback and assessment from each clinical supervisor at the end of each general surgery rotation using a narrative assessment form. Other assessments of operative skills competency in addition to EPAs are completed during PGY3-5. The resident’s complete file and overall progress is formally reviewed at least twice a year at the Competence Committee.

Examinations - The program conducts a formal oral examination for all residents twice yearly. All residents take the written exam provided by The Canadian Association of General Surgeons annually. Feedback is provided for both of these experiences.

Career Review - Formal Career Review is scheduled twice per year with the Program Director or Associate Program Director. A comprehensive range of topics is discussed, including performance, rotation planning and career development. Additional meetings are easily scheduled, at the request of the resident or Program Director.

CAGS - The program will provide all residents with a CAGS, Canadian Association of General Surgery, membership.

Mentorship - Strong informal mentorship is a feature of our program and readily available. We have added a formal mentorship program for those who wish this opportunity as well.

Summary of changes

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