Dalhousie University - General Surgery - Halifax

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

Last approved on October 05, 2021

Approximate Quota:


Accreditation status : Notice of intent to withdraw accreditation

Provincial Criteria

Dr. Lucy Helyer
General Surgery 
QEII Health Sciences Centre, Victoria General Site 
Rm 828, 1276 South Park St.
Halifax , Nova Scotia, B3H 2Y9
(902) 473-2810
Division of General Surgery

Program Contacts

Dr. Lucy Helyer
Program Director
(902) 473-2810

Chantelle Brown
Program Administrator
(902) 473-2810

General Instructions

Program application language: English

The main strength of the program is the wealth of clinical and operative experience. The first two years comprise the "core program" years and are divided into four week and eight week rotations. The final three years focus on mastery of general surgical knowledge and skills.

a. International and interprovincial electives are available.

b. The ratio of residents to faculty is 1:1

c. Average patient load is 10 patients per resident.

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)


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

Reference documents
Number requested: 3

Three reference letters are required. References are preferably written by staff.

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

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. State reasons for applying to this program, career goals, and any further supporting personal information such as extra curricular areas of achievement. Maximum word count of 750.

Custom Résumé / CV 

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 1, 2022
Interviews will be held virtually on Tuesday, March 1, 2022.

Program will notify all applicants through CaRMS Online and will send email invitations directly to applicants selected for an interview.
Upon invitation, the candidate will be interviewed via Zoom (MMI format), and to meet residents and other house staff informally. 

Selection Criteria

The ideal candidate is mature, with good clinical and interpersonal skills. Motivation, problem solving, and self assessment skills are also assessed.

Program goals

  • To train general surgeons skilled in clinical care of surgical patients.
  • To equip them with a strong foundation of basic and complex surgical skills.
  • To introduce them to the plethora of surgical sub-specialties such as ICU, transplant, surgical oncology, colorectal, HPB, laparoscopic and endoscopic surgeries.
  • To support our trainees on their career choices whether community or urban sub specialty.
  • To encourage the development of an enquiring mind and critical appraisal of the literature.

Selection process goals

  • To select mature, well-grounded medical students who would like to train in the Maritimes to become a general surgeon.
  • We look for self-motivated, responsible applicants who have rudimentary technical skills.
  • We identify applicants who have demonstrated the ability to interact with collegues and patients appropriately.
  • We identify applicants who have demonstrated the ability and enthusiasm to learn and are able to adapt to the varius demands of general surgery residency training.
  • 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.

File review process

Review team composition : Each file is reviewed for completeness by the program administrator. Complete files are then reviewed an score by 2 members of the division, they are then ranked using these criteria:
Letters of reference

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

Average percentage of applicants offered interviews : 51 - 75 %
Final interviews are given out to the Top 50+ applicants, with tie breakers being reviewed by both the program director and the associate program director.

Evaluation criteria :
File component Criteria
CV Content, publications
Electives Clinical evaluations
Examinations We do not evaluate this file component.
Extra-curricular Volunteer, interests, talents
Leadership skills Organizations
MSPRs Grades
Personal letters Different programs
Reference documents Interactions with colleagues and patients
Research/Publications Interest in research
Transcripts Academic performance

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.

For the 2022 Match we do recognize that due to COVID-19 many elective opportunities were not possible or cancelled, this will be taken into account when making decisions. If you had an elective opportunity cancelled or made unavailable please address in your personal letter.

Interview process

Interview format :

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

Interview evaluation criteria :
Interview components Criteria
Collaboration skills Providing patient care in team environment
Collegiality Ability to work well with others
Communication skills Ability to speak and write in English
Health advocacy Ability to identify and respond to a range of issues that influence the health and well-being of individual patients, communities, and populations.
Interest in the discipline Ability to be a compassionate physician
Interest in the program Interest in rural/community setting
Leadership skills Type of leadership experience
Professionalism Correspondence with staff and other residents
Scholarly activities Do not evaluate
Other interview component(s) A series of MMI are held with most members of the division participating as well as a short exit interview with the PD. All applicants are ranked based on their interviews.

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

General surgery at Dalhousie 

Maritime based residency training General Surgeons for community or subspecialty practice.  

Over the course of 5 years of training, the resident has a great exposure to multi-organ transplant, minimally invasive/endoscopic surgery, surgical oncology, colorectal surgery but also becomes proficient at acute care/community surgery.  

Some residents join the Clinical Investigator Program (CIP) which is fully funded and over a 2 year period to obtain a Masters Degree. 

All staff involved with colonoscopy training have the CSI certification and all resident proficiency at endoscopy is tracked. 

Surgical Skills Center is open 24 hrs a day for resident practice. 6-8 wet labs are held per year with cadaver/simulation involving the entire residency program. 

Community rotations are based in New Brunswick for PGY1-3. Electives and extra opportunities are available in Cape Breton and the rest of the Province. New Brunswick rotations are based in Saint John, Fredericton and Moncton in furnished apartments.  

Nova Scotia is best known for its rich cultural heritage and its beautiful beaches and coves. There is an endless supply of hiking, camping and kayaking adventures for you to enjoy. Halifax is defined by its rich history, boasting many heritage buildings and National Historic sites. There are plenty of festivals, art galleries, fine dining and, pubs to be enjoyed.  


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.

The majority of rotations are in Halifax.  In the PGY1 year 2 months are spent in Saint John, NB for general surgery.

In the PGY2 year 2 months are spent in Fredericton, NB for GI/Endoscopy.

In the PGY3 year 3 to 6 months are spent in Moncton, NB for general surgery.


a. General Surgery - 28 weeks (approximately 20 weeks will be spent in Halifax, and 8 weeks in Saint John)

b. Medical Specialties - 8 weeks (Halifax)

c. Emergency Medicine - 4 weeks (Halifax)

d. Surgical Specialties - 8 weeks (Halifax)



a. GI Endoscopy - 8 weeks (Fredericton)

b. Vascular - 8 weeks (Halifax)

c. Trauma and Acute Care Surgery - 8 weeks (Halifax)

d. Transplant - 8 weeks (Halifax)

e. Thoracic - 8 weeks (Halifax)

f. Critical Care - 8 weeks (Halifax)


PGY 3-4

PGY3 and 4 offer 12 months of General Surgery rotations in Halifax, 3 to 6 months of General Surgery rotations in Moncton, and up to 6 months of "electives" including Research, Community Surgery, Gynecology, Thoracic, etc. See Royal College training guidelines for General Surgery:



This is a Senior Residency Chief year in General Surgery in Halifax.


Residents are expected to present at least two abstracts for Research Day during their five year program. The resident may take up to 6 months for laboratory or clinical research (as part of the PGY 3-4 training).

Training Sites


Community surgery experiences are available in Fredericton NB, Moncton NB, Sydney NS, Charlottetown PEI, Dartmouth NS, and other sites.

Electronic resources:, electronic bookshelf through the Provincial Medical Society membership (


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.

Additional Information

All incoming PGY1's will participate in a one month Surgical Foundations Boot Camp in July.  Also, the ATLS Course will be offered during Boot Camp.

The ATLS Course is two full days and the subsidized fee is approximately $300.00.    Incoming PGY1's will receive ATLS registration information in late May or early June.


Notice of Intent to Withdraw

Please note that General Surgery currently has an accreditation status of "Notice of Intent to Withdraw" received from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. This accreditation status is given when there is major and /or continuing non-compliance with one or more accreditation standards which calls into question the educational environment and/or integrity of the program.

The training program remains fully accredited at the current time and will undergo an external review in 2021. Accreditation status for the program will be withdrawn at the time of the external review if concerns remain. In that instance, the Associate Postgraduate Dean will be responsible in ensuring that enrolled and accepted residents receive training in another accredited program in Canada.

Our program wants to ensure that applicants are aware of the accreditation status of the program so that they can make a fully informed decision.

Our department, program and the postgraduate medical education office are fully committed to addressing the concerns raised at the last Royal College Survey, and work is already underway to address these concerns.


  • Community or academic destination of the grads? This is hard to predict but ½ to ¾ of the graduates go on to Fellowships such as Transplant, MIS, Surgical Oncology, Thoracic, ICU-Trauma or Vascular Surgery.