McMaster University - Neurosurgery - Hamilton

2023 R-1 Main Residency Match - first iteration
CMG Stream for CMG

Last approved on October 02, 2022

Approximate Quota:


Accreditation status : Accredited

Provincial Criteria

Dr. Blake Yarascavitch
Department of Surgery - Neurosurgery  
McMaster University  
1200 Main Street West
Hamilton, Ontario, L8N 3Z5
905-521-2100 x 46626
Division of Neurosurgery
Division of Neurosurgery - Education
McMaster PGME R1 Match Website

Program Contacts

Dr. Blake Yarascavitch
Program Director
905-521-2100 x 75237

Elyse Cornell
Program Coordinator
905-521-2100 Ext. 46626

Important Information

For more information on Neurosurgery at McMaster University, please visit our website at

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

Thank you for your interest in our neurosurgery residency program at McMaster University!

Please review our selection criteria for an overview of our selection processes and standards. Additionally, under the Program Curriculum section, you will find a detailed overview of the structure of our program.

We look forward to reviewing your application and meeting with you (virtually!) in the coming months. Please do reach out to us if you have any questions or require any additional information that is not provided on our website ( or within CaRMS.

Information regarding virtual events such as town halls and attending teaching activities will be posted to the PGME match website at as it becomes available.

Supporting Documentation / Information

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 Citizenship Card (both sides of card)
• Canadian Permanent Resident 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. Failure to provide proof of citizenship will result in the removal of your application. No other forms of verification are acceptable.
  3. Documents must be notarized/certified photocopies. Notarized/certified copies must be dated and not older than two years from the date of application submission deadline; otherwise, a new notarized/certified copy is required.
  4. Confirmation of permanent residence must be accompanied by a photo ID (must be a valid Canadian government-issued photo ID).

CaRMS is partnering with third-party organizations to automate the verification of citizenship/legal status required by postgraduate offices for entry into residency. Third-party verification simplifies the process for applicants and programs. All applicants who do not receive third-party citizenship verification will be required to upload and assign an acceptable proof of citizenship document. Please see additional information here.

Reference documents
Number requested: 3
Additional documents
Personal Letter 
Word count
Minimum : None
Maximum : None

Medical School Transcript 

Your medical school transcript can be submitted through one of the methods below:

  1. Obtain your medical transcript from your school and upload it directly to your CaRMS Online account. Follow your school’s policy regarding accessing or requesting your transcript;
  2. Ask your medical school to upload your medical transcript through their CaRMS Undergraduate Portal account; or
  3. International (IMGs) and United States (USMGs) medical graduates can transfer their transcript from their account.

[Note: Photograph is used as memory aid only]

Custom Résumé / CV 

Medical Student Performance Record 

For current year Canadian medical graduates (CMGs), there is no action required from you. Your medical school will automatically submit your MSPR to CaRMS on your behalf for you to assign.
If your MSPR is in a language other than the program language of English or French, you are required to have the document translated.

Conditionally required
Medical School Diploma 

Please note: Required if Medical school has been completed.

Review Process

Applications submitted after file review has opened on January 10, 2023

Supporting documents (excluding letters of reference) that arrive after file review has opened  on  January 10, 2023

Letters of reference that arrive after the unmasking date on January 10, 2023



  • February 20, 2023
The McMaster Neurosurgery program will be holding interviews on Monday, February 20, 2023 via Zoom. Applicants selected for interview will be contacted directly with details for the interview day as well as an invitation for a virtual social event to be held the day before (Feb 19, 2023).

Program will notify all applicants through CaRMS Online and will send email invitations directly to applicants selected for an interview.
Interviews will take place on one day and will consist of the applicant being interviewed by a minimum of 2 teams consisting of faculty members and/or residents.

All 2023 R-1 match interviews will be in a virtual format, as per the decision of the AFMC Resident Matching Committee (ARMC).

Selection Criteria

Candidates are graded based on their academic records, their curriculum vitae, and their completed CaRMS application, along with the strength of their references. Overall final candidate ranking is determined by a weighted average of file/application review and interview scores.

Program goals

The purpose of the McMaster University Neurosurgery Residency Training Program is to provide our trainees with a world-class education and experience in the principles and practice of Neurosurgery. The program goal is that, by the end of their training, the resident will be competent in all required neurosurgery skills and incorporate CanMeds competencies into their practice. Program length of training does not exceed the Royal College standards. The residency rotations are designed to meet the requirements of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. The Program is flexible to allow for individual resident requirements and interests within the Royal College framework.

Selection process goals

The goal of the selection process is to identify the candidates who are best placed to successfully complete the McMaster Neurosurgery Residency Training Program. We aim to identify candidates that, by the end of their training, will contribute positively to the delivery of excellent neurosurgical and health services to society, in addition to advancing the field of neurosurgery through academia. We are looking for candidates that will integrate well into our current program structure and who will contribute positively to the residency program environment.

File review process

Review team composition : Applications are reviewed by members of the resident selection committee, composed of both Neurosurgery faculty and residents.

Average number of applications received by our program in the last five years : 0 - 50
Average number of applications received by our program in the last five years is approximately 25-30/year.

Average percentage of applicants offered interviews : 76 - 100 %
Average percentage of applicants offered interviews is >90%

Evaluation criteria :
File component Criteria
CV Overall life experiences, altruism, scholarly work.
Electives Neurosurgical and other elective experience. Candidates are not penalized for their inability to complete electives at our training sites.
Examinations We do not evaluate this file component.
Extra-curricular Achievements and interests.
Leadership skills Demonstration of prior leadership experiences.
MSPRs Academic performance, clinical performance, and awards.
Personal letters Motivations for their choice of neurosurgery as a career and exposures to the discipline.
Reference documents Professionalism, work ethic, medical expert, character, and conduct.
Research/Publications Interest and ability to communicate scholarly work.
Transcripts Overall progress and academic merit.
Other file component(s) Communication skills
Interest in the discipline
Interest in the program

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 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 due to various pandemic restrictions will not negatively impact your application to our program.

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 Ability to constructively contribute to the success of a team.
Collegiality Ability to perform well in a team environment and degree of self-awareness.
Communication skills Assessed throughout the process through specific interview questions and observation.
Health advocacy We do not evaluate this interview component.
Interest in the discipline Demonstrates knowledge of the specifics of the discipline.
Interest in the program Demonstrates knowledge of the specifics of the program.
Leadership skills Experience and successes as a leader in any areas.
Professionalism Specific interview questions to assess professionalism.
Scholarly activities We do not specifically evaluate this in the interview component as it has been assessed during file review.

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 6 years.

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

Program Overview

The Program implements the curriculum and training experiences outline by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. 

CBD utilizes time as a framework rather than time as the basis for progression. It is not anticipated that the duration of training will be longer than 6 years for most trainees. The residency program consists of 4 stages and each stage has a series of milestones based on required competencies. These milestones 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 stages are:

  1. Transition to Discipline (1-2 months)
  2. Foundations of Discipline (up to 24 months)
  3. Core of Discipline (36-45 months)
  4. Transition to Practice (2-3 months)

The durations listed are only for planning learning experiences and schedules.

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.

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

The residency rotations are designed to meet the requirements of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

The program is flexible enough to allow for individual resident requirements and interests. For example, should a resident wish to specialize in functional neurosurgery (planned, but not currently available at our centre), we will facilitate additional exposure to this subspecialty at a mutually agreeable teaching institution.


Education Sessions

Friday mornings are Neurosurgery Resident Academic Half Days. Neuroradiology Rounds, Neuroscience Rounds, Resident Lectures, and Brain Cutting/Neuropathology Lectures are mandatory sessions on a weekly basis. Annual oral and written exams are provided by the staff in order to assess a Resident’s progress and Neurosurgical knowledge.


PGY 1 & 2

There are two years of core surgery training jointly administered through the Surgical Foundations program via the Competence by Design (CBD) model. These rotations include General Surgery, ICU, as well as additional surgical specialties, enabling the resident to fulfill all Surgical Foundation’s requirements. The Surgical Foundations program additionally consists of mandatory Wednesday morning half-days for PGY1 and PGY2 residents. Following completion of the Surgical Foundations requirements, all residents are required to pass the Royal College Surgical Foundations Examination to be eligible for the Neurosurgery Royal College specialty exam.

It is expected that by the end of PGY2, residents will have successfully completed all requirements necessary from the "Transition to Discipline" and "Foundations of Discipline" stages of neurosurgery training in order to be promoted to the "Core of Discipline" stage.


This year will be spent in neurosurgery and neurosurgical research tailored to the resident's needs, be it basic science or clinical. Those residents that choose to continue doing clinical work during this period will be allowed to do so. A three-month period is spent in pediatric neurosurgery.

Residents are expected to be in the "Core of Discipline" stage of the Competence by Design Framework during this year.


The PGY 4 year is spent in neurosurgery, with opportunities for community and/or international electives in neurosurgery.

Residents are expected to be in the "Core of Discipline" stage of the Competence by Design Framework during this year.


The PGY 5 year is spent primarily in adult neurosurgery, with the option to do 3 months in pediatric neurosurgery. This year is intended to bolster the resident's comfort and experience with all facets of neurosurgical practice. This will include exposure to ambulatory practice, operating room experience, and participation in satellite clinics.

To prepare for the Royal College written exam for specialty certification in Neurosurgery, the program encourages enrollment and provides financial support for established Neurosurgical exam review courses in this year of residency.

Residents are expected to be in "Core of Discipline" stage of the Competence by Design Framework during this year.

In the new CBD framework, it is anticipated that residents will sit their written Royal College exam in the spring of their PGY 5 year.

Additionally, residents may perform chief duties during the latter half of their PGY 5 year, dependent upon resident distribution at the that time.


PGY 6 (Chief Year)

The last year of the neurosurgical program will be spent in neurosurgery and geared towards producing an independent neurosurgeon capable of making balanced clinical decisions based on sound judgement and available evidence.

To prepare for the Royal College oral exam for specialty certification in Neurosurgery, the program encourages enrollment and provides financial support for established Neurosurgical exam review courses in this year of residency.

Residents are expected to be completing the "Core of Discipline" stage of the Competence by Design Framework during this year and must complete "Transition to Practice" stages during the latter part of this year to successfully complete residency.


In the first two years of the neurosurgical program, seminars related to the principles of surgery are organized by the Surgical Foundations program. These sessions are mandatory for the year 1 and 2 residents in addition to the Friday morning Neurosurgery Academic Half-day curriculum.

Didactic and interactive teaching/learning occurs during weekly seminars through all years of the residency program.



Residents are encouraged to present research projects at the annual Neuroscience Resident Research Days and regularly at National and International Conferences.

There is a neurosurgery program research committee that provides oversight of resident research projects and their performance, offering guidance and support from project inception to completion. Any research interests will be nurtured, be it clinical or basic science.

One year of residency (usually PGY4) may be set aside to complete formal research training for residents in good standing. Residents are encouraged to apply for programs leading to an advanced degree to enhance their academic qualifications, be it course- or thesis-based. Many past and current residents have been granted leave to complete advanced degrees during their residency program through the Clinician Investigator Program (CIP).

Training Sites

There are two teaching institutions involved with the neurosurgical program, Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) and St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton (SJH).

Hamilton Health Sciences incorporates the Hamilton General Hospital, where the majority of the adult neurosurgery occurs, McMaster Children's Hospital, where pediatric neurosurgical care is delivered, and the Juravinski Hospital.  The neurosurgical group consults as well at St. Joseph’s Hospital where a moderate amount of ambulatory neurosurgical procedures occur.

All of the mandatory and elective rotations (including off-service rotations) will take place at these institutions, except for a functional neurosurgery rotation that is currently being supported through agreements with Western University in London, Ontario. Pediatric neurosurgical experience will be at the McMaster site.

Additionally, we support opportunities for elective rotations at both academic and non-academic sites across Ontario and Canada.