McMaster University - Cardiac Surgery - Hamilton

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

Last approved on September 30, 2022

Approximate Quota:


Accreditation status : Accredited

Provincial Criteria

Dr. Iqbal Jaffer
Department of Surgery-Cardiac Surgery  
McMaster University 
1280 Main Street West
Hamilton ON L8S 4L8, Ontario
905-521-2100 x44453
Department of Surgery - Division of Cardiac Surgery
Resident driven website

Program Contacts

Dr. Iqbal Jaffer
Program Director
905-521-2100 Ext. 44453

Andrea Howe
Senior Education Associate
905-521-2100 Ext. 44453

Important Information

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 / 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
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.

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.

Custom Résumé / CV 

Personal Letter 
Word count
Minimum : None
Maximum : None

[Note: Photograph is used as memory aid only]

Conditionally required
Medical School Diploma 

Please note: Required if Medical school has been completed.

Optional - will be reviewed
MCCQE Part I - Statement of Results 

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 17, 2023
Interviews will be held on Friday, February 17th via Zoom. Applicants will be contacted directly with schedule and link details.

Program will notify all applicants through CaRMS Online and will send email invitations directly to applicants selected for an interview.
Candidates will be interviewed individually by at least five members of the Residency Program Committee. Interview duration will not exceed 30 minutes.

Selection Criteria

An exceptional academic record, with proven interest in cardiac surgery demonstrated by elective choices and research activities.

A strong applicant will have a demonstrated interest in basic sciences or clinical research. While we do not require applicants to do electives at McMaster University, we strongly encourage multiple electives within the field.

Letters of references reflecting a candidate's strong interpersonal skills, interests, motivation, professionalism, and learning ability.

Demonstrated interests in research: basic or clinical or epidemiological (e.g. surgical outcomes)

Program goals

Our program is a single site residency program with one of the largest volumes in Canada. As such, there is a large degree of direct interaction between staff and trainees, and the program is built on a foundation of mentor-mentee system.

It is our objective and our mission, that throughout your training, you will learn and apply the CanMEDS competencies, so that by end, you will become a skilled consultant, capable of diagnosing and managing patients with an array of cardiovascular diseases. You will be an expert in both surgical management and perioperative management of your patients. Additionally, all residents are will partake in academics and extra-curriculars beyond the surgical requirements, and explore interests in medical education, research, and/or administrative studies, with the eventual goal of having a career in cardiac surgery that extends beyond the operating room.

Selection process goals

Our program is best suited for applicants who have demonstrated a strong interest in Cardiac Surgery. You must show a continual desire to learn and improve, along with a thirst for knowledge. Hard-work and a strong work ethic are highly sought after.

A keen interest in research and/or other academic endeavours are strongly recommended. Successful applicants will also highlight extra-curricular activities that show them to be well-rounded individuals, with interests and hobbies beyond the cardiac sciences.  

File review process

Review team composition : Residency selection committee -
Three cardiac surgeons; program director/academic chair, research director, and one attendings.
Three residents; the chief resident, one senior resident (resident lead for CBME and curriculum committee), and one junior resident.

Average number of applications received by our program in the last five years : 0 - 50
We receive 14 to 18 applications.

Average percentage of applicants offered interviews : 51 - 75 %
We aim to interview 50% of the applicants, but will invite more if applications are deemed strong.

Evaluation criteria :
File component Criteria
CV Awards, accomplishments, and highlighted extra-curriculars.
Electives Candidates must demonstrate that they have clinical experience to ensure they are making an informed decision about entering a surgical specialty.
Examinations We do not evaluate this component
Extra-curricular Highlight activities that demonstrate hobbies and interests outside of medicine and surgery.
Leadership skills Experience in leading teams in a variety of settings.
MSPRs Must not have any remarks of concerns or issues with professionalism.
Personal letters Highlight how and why you chose cardiac surgery. Demonstrate a strong interest.
Reference documents Will be reviewed for professionalism and attestment to character.
Research/Publications Not mandatory, but strongly suggested. A keen interest in learning research methodology.
Transcripts Must not have any failed rotations or remarks of concerns.
Other file component(s) Notes on CV: We consider the awards, accomplishments and highlighted extra-curriculars to be the most important after personal letters and reference documents.

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
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 Understands the importance of working in a team, and how to interact with potentially difficult persons.
Collegiality Kind, respectful, and professional. Good listening skills.
Communication skills Clear and concise. Rationale and reasoning for answers verbalized.
Health advocacy We do not evaluate this interview component.
Interest in the discipline We do not evaluate this interview component.
Interest in the program We do not evaluate this interview component.
Leadership skills Demonstrate understanding of nuances of leading a group of diverse individuals. Especially in a crisis.
Professionalism Dress in professional and appropriate attire. Evidence of good moral reasoning in face of difficult situations.
Scholarly activities We may ask questions around difficult, but common, cardiac surgery cases.
Other interview component(s) Our interview process aims to judge your ability to think on the spot, and react in a calm and collected manner in a stressful environment.

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

For a glimpse of the McMaster Cardiac Surgery residency experience (the accounts are run by our residents), refer to:
IG/Twitter - @MacCVSx

Our training program prides itself in direct interactions between residents and attending staff. We are the busiest center in Ontario with an annual pump case volume of over 1700. The large volume provides significant clinical exposure for residents with no competition for OR time.
Our surgeons have expertise – and residents have great exposure to – aortic cases (including Bentalls, ascending aorta, hemi-arch, arch replacements +/- frozen elephant trunk), Ross procedure (our center is leading the Revival trial), minimally invasive surgeries (any valve or coronary bypass), off-pump CABG, structural heart disease (TAVI and Mitra-clip), etc.

Our residents follow an academic-surgical pathway. Residents are encouraged to consider their interests and all available options. In the past, residents have taken time to do PhD or Master’s in basic sciences, clinical epidemiology, knowledge translation, health research methodology, etc. While the enrichment year (taken in either 3rd or 4th year) provides dedicated time for research, additional academic productivity is a must throughout residency. We provide support to our residents with an established team of mentors and mentees via the in-house MiNION-CIA research group.

Junior Years

The junior cardiac surgery rotation will expect the resident to learn to perform sternotomy, cannulate the patient for cardiopulmonary bypass, harvest conduits for coronary artery bypass such as the long saphenous vein and the left internal mammary artery. The resident will assume a gradually increasing role in performing parts of coronary artery bypass procedures. 

The vascular surgery rotation will provide additional opportunity for the resident to perform arterial anastomoses. In addition, the resident will be exposed to management of conditions involving venous disorders and acute ischemia. 

During thoracic surgery, the resident will learn to perform thoracotomy incisions and have the opportunity to perform bronchoscopy, mediastinoscopy, thoracoscopy, lung biopsy, apical bullectomy and tracheostomy. He/she will assist in pulmonary and esophageal resections.


Senior Years

The senior year in cardiac surgery will provide the resident with a large volume of cardiac surgery. Upon its completion, the resident will be capable of independently performing coronary artery bypass surgery and valve repair/replacement. He/she will have gained experience in "redo" surgery. There will be maximal resident exposure to procedures that are performed less frequently, such as those involving aortic root enlargement, aortic arch surgery, pericardial resection, emergency cases such as aortic dissections and ruptured VSD repair, and specialized cases such as mitral valve repair and pulmonary thromboendarterectomy.

The pediatric cardiac surgical rotation will occur at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. He/she will take part in a large number of different procedures, some palliative, some staged and some definitive. 

Rotations during PGY-1 year include: Transition to Practice and Foundations of Discipline; adult cardiac surgery, vascular surgery, general surgery (trauma), cardiology rotations (Consults, Imaging, Echo, EP).


Rotations during PGY-2 year include: Foundations of Discipline; adult cardiac surgery, cardiac anaesthesia, ICU, cardiac catheterization, CCU.


The PGY-3 year is an academic enrichment year.


Rotations during PGY-4 year include: adult cardiac surgery, cardiac catheterization, thoracic surgery and vascular surgery.


Rotations during the PGY-5 year include: pediatric cardiac surgery, adult cardiac surgery and electives based on career goals (VAD, Cath, Peds).


The final training year is spent as senior resident in adult cardiac surgery.


The academic enrichment year (PGY-3) provides an opportunity for research. Additional involvement in research projects is required during residency training.


The cardiac surgery service has weekly teaching rounds – didactic or hands-on – on Friday mornings. Additionally, every Wednesday morning we host cardiac surgery grand rounds where residents are expected to present on a rotating basis. These rounds include – but are not limited to – mortality morbidity, ongoing research, newly published works, etc.

Training Sites

Training Sites

Hamilton General Hospital – Main Site

McMaster University Medical Centre (Surgical Foundations)

St. Joseph's Hospital (Thoracic Surgery)

The Hospital for Sick Children – Sick Kids (Pediatric Cardiac Surgery)

University of Alberta - Edmonton - (Pediatric Cardiac Surgery & VAD/Heart Failure)

University of Ottawa (VAD/Heart Failure)

The Cardiac Surgery program at McMaster Univ. is focused on residency training rather than fellows which allows the learners to have more one on time with the Cardiac Surgeons on staff and the other residents in the program. There is a large degree of direct interaction between the staff and learner. There is flexibility given when choosing rotations, electives and research/scholarly choices which suits the learners career goals.