University of Saskatchewan - Neurosurgery - Saskatoon

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

Last approved on December 01, 2022

Summary of changes

Approximate Quota:


Accreditation status : Accredited

Provincial Criteria

Dr. Lissa Peeling
Royal University Hospital  
103 Hospital Drive
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, S7N 0W8
(306) 844-1357
(306) 655-1333
Division of Neurosurgery

Program Contacts

Dr. Lissa Peeling
Program Director

Carissa Miskolczi
Program Administrative Assistant
(306) 844-1357

Important Information

Applicants  are responsible for reviewing the University of Saskatchewan Policies for the R1 Match to determine if they meet all requirements and eligibility criteria. Failure to meet or provide proof of any of the stated requirements or documents may result in an applicant’s file not being reviewed or ranked.

CASPer Test
All applicants must complete the Casper test. More information is available under Supporting Documentation-CASPer Exam.

Matched applicants must be eligible for an educational register license with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan (CPSS) for a July 1st start date and must maintain eligibility for an educational register license throughout their entire training program. Matched applicants who are graduating in the spring will need to provide a copy of their medical degree/diploma to the PGME office and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan (CPSS) prior to the start of residency training. Any delays in providing all required documentation to CPSS may result in the following:

  • delay in issuance of an educational register license and a delay in start of postgraduate training beyond July 1st
  • release from CaRMS match contract

Applicants completing medical education at the University of Montreal, Sherbrooke, Laval, and the University of Ottawa (French stream) are required to submit proof of English language proficiency before the rank order deadline to demonstrate they meet CPSS requirements. More information is available under Supporting Documentation-Language Proficiency.

NOTE: Applicants who are considering a delay to their convocation date must be aware that a medical degree cannot be issued to a student until they have convocated. CPSS bylaws require that new residents must have received their medical degree prior to the commencement of residency training. Choosing to delay convocation will affect a matched applicant’s ability to commence their residency training program in Saskatchewan on July 1. Please refer to the U of S CaRMS Deferral Policy for additional information.

In order to commence and continue in Postgraduate Medical Education training programs, matched applicants must be eligible for and maintain privileges within the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) as determined by their credentialing process. The SHA requires successful applicants to submit a current criminal record check as part of their pre-resident application for appointment. Applicants with criminal records will be considered on a case by case basis by the College of Medicine in consultation with the SHA.

Resident Boot Camp
All matched applicants must attend a mandatory three-day Resident Boot Camp scheduled for late June. The purpose of the Boot Camp is to provide additional support to trainees as they transition to residency by introducing and consolidating baseline skills and knowledge needed to flourish during their residency years. The program will include interactive case-based and hands-on practice sessions. There will also be a social event to provide trainees with the opportunity to interact and network among themselves. Stipends will be provided to trainees.

Attendance is required and absences are only permitted in exceptional circumstances, with prior approval of PGME.

Advanced Cardiac Life Support
Matched applicants are required to provide proof of ACLS certification (current as of July 1, 2023) to the PGME office prior to starting their training program. The ACLS course must be endorsed by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and/or the American Heart Association. ACLS training that is not certified by these two organizations and/or is completed entirely through an online course will not be accepted. Applicants are responsible for all costs associated with obtaining ACLS certification.

General Instructions

Program application language: English

Supporting Documentation / Information

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.
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
• Passport page showing Canadian Citizenship
• Canadian Permanent Resident Card (both sides of card)
• Canadian Citizenship Card (both sides of card)

All applicants must be Canadian Citizens or Permanent Residents at the time of application and must submit a notarized/certified photocopy of one of the accepted citizenship documents.

Proof of citizenship must be current at the time of application and expired documents will not be accepted.

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.

Language proficiency
Conditionally required
Submit one of the following documents to verify your language proficiency:
• Occupational English Test (OET) - Medicine
• Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) - General

Language assessment document accepted: IELTS Academic

  • Document validity (not expired) by: Must be valid up to July 1, 2023
  • Minimum score: Minimum of 7.0 in each of the components
  • Results available and submitted to programs by: March 2, 2023 at 14:00 ET 

Language assessment document accepted:

  1. Occupational English Test (OET) – Medicine on paper at a test venue
  2. Occupational English Test (OET) – Medicine on a computer at a test venue
  • Document validity (not expired) by: Must be valid up to July 1, 2023
  • Minimum score: Minimum grade of B
  • Results available and submitted to programs by: March 2, 2023 at 14:00 ET

Language assessment document accepted: Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) – General

  • Document validity (not expired) by: Must be valid up to July 1, 2023
  • Minimum score: Minimum grade of 9 in all sections
  • Results available and submitted to programs by: March 2, 2023 at 14:00 ET

Applicants will be required to provide proof of proficiency in the English language to meet licensing requirements of the College of Physicians and Surgeons (CPSS) of Saskatchewan.

CMGs/USMGs who completed their medical education at an English medical school in Canada or the US are not required to submit proof of English language proficiency.

Canadian applicants with medical education from the University of Montreal, Sherbrooke, Laval, and the University of Ottawa (French stream) are required to meet the English language proficiency requirements of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan and must complete one of the language exams listed above.

Applicants who are required to complete a language exam must submit a valid test score to CaRMS by the program rank order deadline. Applicants who do not provide acceptable proof of language proficiency by the program rank order deadline will not be ranked.

Please direct any questions about language requirements or eligibility to Applicants should not contact CPSS directly about their eligibility for licensure.

Reference documents
Number requested: 3

Three letters of reference will be accepted, preferably from physicians or scientists who have an academic position and are well acquainted with an applicant's clinical and/or research capabilities.

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.

Personal Letter 
Word count
Minimum : None
Maximum : None

A personal letter is required. The candidate should introduce him/herself, indicate career interests and goals and any relevant experiance or exposure to the field of neurosurgery.

CASPer exam 

Your CASPer assessment result is sent directly to CaRMS from Altus approximately one week prior to the application deadline. Please ensure that you give Altus permission to share your results with CaRMS.
The CASPer assessment is only valid for one admissions cycle. If you have taken the assessment in a previous year, you are expected to re-take it. To register for the CASPer assessment visit

Custom Résumé / CV 

No specific format is required.

[Note: Photograph is used as memory aid only]

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

Our review team is composed of the Program Director, the Chief Resident, program administrators and designated faculty members.



  • February 13, 2023
Our virtual interviews will be held Monday, February 13, 2023.

Program will notify all applicants through CaRMS Online and will send email invitations directly to applicants selected for an interview.
The interview committee comprises of neurosurgery faculty, residents, nursing, interprofessional personnel, and administrators. The interview is comprised of a number of interview panels.  Each candidate selected for an interview will have an opportunity to meet with each of the interview panels.  

Selection Criteria

We are looking for well rounded, mature individuals who exhibit interest in neurosurgery through experience in the form of electives, rotations, or research.  An interest in neuroscience is an asset.  Applicants who are hard working, dedicated, have an enthusiasm to learn as well as adapt to the demands of neurosurgery residency training are encouraged to apply.  Applicants are encouraged to have leadership experience and have demonstrated attributes highlighted in the 2015 CanMEDS roles.  Applicants must be able to excel in team environments.  

Program goals

The University of Saskatchewan offers a well-organized comprehensive training program in Neurosurgery as per the Royal College guidelines.  The program is fully accredited. Our residents will demonstrate exceptional interpersonal skills, clinical skills, surgical skills, leadership skills, research experience and academic excellence.  

Our program strives to train exceptional, well rounded neurosurgeons who are competitive for fellowship positions and job opportunities at the completion of their training program.  

Selection process goals

- Applicants will have an interest in neurosurgery, and have demonstrated this interest by way of rotations, electives, research or other neurosurgery related experience.

- Applicants will have an acceptable academic record which demonstrates both basic proficiency in clinical medicine, and special proficiency in subjects related to neurosurgery.

- Experience in research will be an asset.

- Experience in team work, or leadership will be an asset.

- Applicants will have excellent communication and interpersonal skills.

- Applicants will have demonstrated an ability to interact appropriately with patient and other team members.


File review process

Review team composition : Our review team is composed of the program director, chief resident, program administrators and designated Neurosurgery faculty members.

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

Average percentage of applicants offered interviews : 76 - 100 %
There may be some exceptions.

Evaluation criteria :
File component Criteria
CV We evaluate the content, including research, publications, presentations, and work experience.
Electives Clinical evaluations (in particular those from a neurosurgery rotation or elective).
Examinations All applicants must complete a CASPer exam to be eligible for consideration.
Extra-curricular Activities (example: sports teams or musical interest); Volunteering; Mentoring
Leadership skills Leadership experience (example: holding office in a student government/organization; team coach)
MSPRs Demonstrate interpersonal skills
Personal letters Interest in discipline and program location.
Reference documents Positive interaction with colleagues/patients; Interest in discipline.
Research/Publications Interest, experience and dedication to research.
Transcripts Academic Performance
Other file component(s) CaSPER exam

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 encourange applicants to have some exposure to neurosurgery by way of electives, rotations or other experience.  There is no minimum requirement of number of weeks of electives.

We will consider applicants who have not done electives or rotations at the University of Saskatchewan.

Due to COVID-19, it is expected and anticipated that elective experiences are greatly affected and appropriate consideration will be taken when reviewing applications. We wish to assure applicants this will not impact the eligibility of their application during the review and selection process.

Interview process

Interview format :

We routinely accommodate requests to re-schedule interviews for applicants due to weather, technology failure or unforeseen circumstances.

Interview evaluation criteria :
Interview components Criteria
Collaboration skills Promotion of high quality patient care through working in a team environment.
Collegiality Behavior, attitude, ability to work well with others, particularly inter-professional personnel.
Communication skills Ability to speak and write in English .
Health advocacy Demonstrate concern in advocating for patient care, as well as, health care resources.
Interest in the discipline Demonstrate interest in neuroscience, particularly a passion for neurosurgery.
Interest in the program Demonstrate interest in living in Saskatchewan, particularly Saskatoon.
Leadership skills Involvement in the continuous development and improvement of medical care.
Professionalism Behaviour at the interview day, correspondence with administrators or other team members.
Scholarly activities Demonstrate excellence in the clinical, educational and research opportunities.
Other interview component(s) Ability to express oneself clearly and succinctly.

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

Quick Facts

- Competency by Design educational delivery, both in surgical foundations as well as Neurosurgery

- Up to 12 months for research including up to 6 months interprovincial/international electives.

- Home call on Neurosurgery. Call coverage restricted to one hospital.

- Early hands on experience in the operating room.

- Ratio of residents to faculty is about 1:1.

- Pediatrics and spine are integrated into daily work (not a separate rotation).

- Excellent support for attendance at conferences/meetings.

- Masters Program, Ph.D Programs, Royal College Clinical Investigator 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.

PGY-1 and 2

These two years include rotations in General Surgery Trauma, Vascular, Ortho Spine, ICU, Emergency Medicine, Neurology, and twelve months of the first two years are spent in neurosurgery.

PGY-3 to 6

During the subsequent four years of training, residents complete 30 additional months of clinical neurosurgery (for a total of 42 months). Residents spend three months on neuroradiology and may choose three to six months of neuropathology. Nine to 12 months may be spent in basic or clinical research, or alternatively spent in subspecialty neurosurgical training (i.e. a clinical elective). Up to six months of this 9-12 month block may be spent outside of Saskatchewan (in Canada or internationally).


An optional neurosurgery rotation in Regina is available. Additionally, up to six months may be spent in an interprovincial or international elective (see PGY-3 to 6, above).


Clinical or basic research is strongly supported and encouraged. Research opportunities in spine injury, pediatric neurosurgery, oncology, neural regeneration, stroke, epilepsy surgery, and neurosurgical applications of the synchrotron are readily available. A Masters of Surgery or Ph.D may be obtained through the Department of Graduate Studies or through the Royal College Clinical Investigator Program (

Training Sites

Distributive Learning at the University of Saskatchewan

The College of Medicine, while physically located in Saskatoon, is a provincial resource in attitude and in practice. Postgraduate medical education at the University of Saskatchewan takes seriously its role in supporting quality health care to all people of the province. This means training physicians to meet the needs of, not only urban populations, but also those of rural and remote populations. In so doing, the College of Medicine has developed, and continues to develop, rotations in Regina and other communities. These rotations are designed to provide educational experiences to enhance the resident's knowledge and skills, and take maximum advantage of unique educational opportunities in a diversity of communities. All postgraduate programs are expected to develop and incorporate into their curriculum, rotations in communities other than Saskatoon. The manner in which each program does this is not strictly prescribed by the College of Medicine - but is determined by the Residency Training Committee, taking into consideration the needs of their residents, and the excellent opportunities available in other locations. These rotations continue to evolve as we seek to build stronger and better programs.

Extensive support is available for out of town rotations. The exact nature of this support varies with location and program. The communities involved, individual programs, the College of Medicine, and the Ministry of Health work collaboratively to ensure residents are not financially disadvantaged by the need to relocate.

For residents assigned to short term rotations in Regina, fully furnished private apartments are available (laundry facilities, wi-fi, cable TV) and are located in close proximity to the Regina General Hospital. Residents who bring their children with them for the duration of their rotation, will be housed in family-friendly multi-bedroom apartments.

While all residents are strongly encouraged to take advantage of educational experiences in other communities to ensure a well rounded education, the amount and format of such time is determined by the program committee. Royal College Specialty residents are encouraged to complete 10% - 20% of their training in Regina.

Summary of changes

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