McGill University - Neurosurgery - Montreal

2023 R-1 Main Residency Match - first iteration
Regular Stream for All

Last approved on November 16, 2022

Summary of changes

Approximate Quota:


Accreditation status : Accredited

Provincial Criteria

Dr. Jeffery Atkinson
Montreal Neurological Hospital & Institute  
3801 University Street, Room 109
Montreal , Quebec, H3A 2B4
(514) 398-1935
McGill Post Graduate Medical Education.

Program Contacts

Dr. Jeffrey Atkinson
(514) 398-1935

Sherisse Seale
Coordinator, Neurosurgery Training Program
(514) 398-1935

General Instructions

Program application language: Either English or French

We are pleased to accept applications in French or English, including supporting documentation such as letters of reference.

Candidates selected for interview will also have the opportunity to participate in either language, at their discretion.

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
• Canadian Permanent Resident Card (both sides of card)

PROOF OF CITIZENSHIP must be submitted with each application.

  • A copy of Canadian Birth Certificate or a copy of Certificate of Canadian Citizenship


  • A copy of Permanent Resident Card (copy of both sides of the card) OR a copy of an IMM 5292, IMM 1000, IMM 5688;
    NB: the Permanent Resident card can be expired.


  • A copy of Citizenship Card (copy of both sides of the card)

P.S: the passport is not an acceptable proof of citizenship.

Each year, all candidates applying in a CaRMS match must provide proof of valid current citizenship or permanent resident status. As of the 2021 R-1 match cycle, CaRMS is partnering with third-party organizations to automate the citizenship/legal status verification, which is usually completed by Postgraduate Medical Education (PGME) offices.

if an applicant has had their citizenship/legal status documentation verified by any of the following organizations for the current R-1 match, the applicant will not be required to assign a proof of citizenship/PR document (as pictured in the screenshot below).

  • Medical Council of Canada (MCC)
  • British Columbia's Clinical Assessment Program (BC-CAP)
  • Bureau de coopération interuniversitaire (BCI)
  • Alberta International Medical Graduate Program (AIMG)

For further information, please check the following link on CaRMS:

Reference documents
Number requested: 3

At least three letters of reference are required. Some must be from staff, some may be from senior residents. Late references will be accepted until the end of December.

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.

For International (IMGs) and United States (USMGs) medical graduates, you can submit your MSPR through either of the methods below:

  1. Upload your MSPR directly into your CaRMS Online account; or
  2. Ask your medical school to upload your MSPR through their CaRMS Undergraduate Portal account.
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 should include the explanation of academic background and how it may be particularly suited for neurosurgery and future career goals. A statement regarding the motivation for applying to McGill neurosurgery program is strongly recommended.

Conditionally required
MCCEE - Statement of Results 

For IMGs: In addition to a copy of your Medical Degree, it is necessary to provide the equivalence letter from the CMQ (Collège des médecins du Québec). Please provide the results of the exams that permitted you to have your medical degree recognized and approved by the CMQ.

MCCQE I (Medical Council of Canada Qualifiying Examination Part 1 and one of the following:

  • MCCQE Part II (Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination Part 2)
  • NAC-OSCE - National Assessment Collaboration (NAC) Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE).

USMLE part I and part II (if available).

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

File reviews will be performed by the program director and members of the residency selection / interview committee. These members will be representatives of the teaching faculty and our current residents in training.



  • February 22, 2023
Interview date is  February 22, 2022 as marked on calendar above.

It may be possible to arrange a meeting with our residents for program information on the 21st of February, 2022.

Program will notify all applicants through CaRMS Online and will send email invitations directly to applicants selected for an interview.
The office of the program director will contact the residents to plan for individual interviews. Students are interviewed by members of the Neurosurgery Residency Selection Committee, a subcommittee of the Residency training program.


Interviewers will be both members of the faculty and residents currently training in our program, and include the program director.  Usually we will have candidates meet 4 groups of 2 interviewers each (one resident and one faculty) for a period of 15-30 minutes per session.  All interviews will be via videoconference.

Selection Criteria

The residency training program in Neurosurgery at McGill University aims to train highly qualified Canadian and international medical graduates to become highly skilled independent practitioners of academic neurosurgery, and basis for our graduates to become leaders in the clinical and research domains associated with the specialty.

Specifically we aim to ensure our residents

            Receive a complete training in all of the fundamentals or neurosurgery

            Have an early and wide exposure to areas of subspecialty and advanced practice in neurosurgery

            Successfully obtain qualifications in neurosurgery from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada

            Practice medicine based on the concepts set out in the Royal College CANMEDS 2015 framework

            Are responsible to the standards of practice set out by the College des Medecins du Quebec

            Understand the principles and practice of academic research and are given opportunities to further their research skills and training

            Are given training to allow them to move forward as leaders and educators in neurosurgery around the Globe

Program goals

Residents must demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and attitudes relating to gender, culture and ethnicity pertinent to Neurosurgery.  In addition, all residents must demonstrate an ability to incorporate gender, culture and ethnic perspectives in research methodology, data presentation and analysis.

On completion of the education program, the graduate physician will be competent to function as a consultant in Neurosurgery

The resident must be well grounded in the general principles of both Neurosurgery and surgery in general.  Thus, the fully-trained resident must demonstrate proficiency and expertise in the care of neurosurgical emergencies, the principles of pre- and post- operative general surgical care, the treatment of  deep vein thrombosis, the management of fluid and electrolyte disturbances, the treatment of sepsis, the use of antibiotic therapy and an understanding of the implications of antibiotic prophylaxis, the understanding of vascular shock and its treatment, an understanding of the diagnostic importance of disordered blood gas analyses and their treatment, and the longitudinal (acute, sub acute and chronic) management of parenteral nutritional support.

In addition to satisfactory knowledge, clinical ability, and surgical skill as these apply to surgical diseases of the nervous system, the resident will be expected to have shown familiarity with, and knowledge of, the related disciplines of basic neuroscience, neurology, neuropathology, neuroimaging, and neuropsychology.

Residents must demonstrate a detailed knowledge of the normal structure and function of the nervous system and of the pathological processes that derange it.  They must demonstrate the diagnostic skills to identify congenital and acquired abnormalities, trauma, and ethical and effective patient care.  They must develop learning strategies to enhance their knowledge and expertise so as to maintain excellent and current standards of care.  They must become effective neurosurgical consultants with respect to patient care, education of colleagues and the provision of medical legal opinions.  Our program also highly encourages our graduates to pursue formal research training during their residency.

Finally, and most important, the resident is expected to demonstrate unequivocal high moral and ethical behavior.

Selection process goals

Successful applcants to our program will show a strong interest in clinical neurosurgery, will work well with their colleagues, and will show a strong interest in academic medicine and research.

The selection process aims to identify candidates that would be successful in the obtainment of the goals of our program as elucidated above.

Ability to speak French is a significant asset but not essential for acceptance.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

File review process

Review team composition : The selection committee is composed of the Program Director, Program Administrator, and a roughly equal number of teaching faculty and residents.

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

Average percentage of applicants offered interviews : 76 - 100 %

Evaluation criteria :
File component Criteria
CV We are interested in candidates academic and personal accomplishments. A wide variety of experiences are valued.
Electives Some electives in neurosurgery are encouraged to demonstrate that candidates have a functional knowledge of the specialty and residency training to which they are applying though it is not necessary that they occurred at our centre.
Examinations Standardized exam results such as MCCQE are considered to some extent.
Extra-curricular We are interested in a wide variety of extra-curricular experiences, and are always pleased to have candidates with diverse interests.
Leadership skills Leadership skills are valued particularly as it relates to the potential to improve our residency program.
MSPRs The Dean's letters are considered.
Personal letters Personal letters are considered as an attempt to understand motivation towards our specialty
Reference documents Reference letters are important as a guide to how candidates work with others, as an objective assessment of clinical skills, and as a substitute for electives in our centre.
Research/Publications A strong interest in academic medicine is encouraged and it is important to have an understanding of what research entails and how it will be integrated into a candidates future training and practice.
Transcripts A successful candidate will have demonstrated a facility with formal evaluations of performance and academic knowledge.

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.

Given the current restricions in travel and elective availabiiity there is no preference for candidates who have done electives at our institution.  However, it is preferred that candidates have an elective experience that demonstrates that they understand what the 6 year training program in neurosurgery will entail.

Interview process

Interview format :

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

Interview evaluation criteria :
Interview components Criteria
Collaboration skills An attempt is always made to determine how well candidates work with their colleagues.
Collegiality It is important to have a candidate with good interpersonal skills, who will interact well with patients and staff.
Communication skills Ability to communicate clearly is definitely considered in the interview. Communication skills in french are a bonus but not a requirement.
Health advocacy We are always interested in candidates experience in this area though we recognize that variable experience will exist in applicants.
Interest in the discipline Clear interest and understanding of neurosurgery as a specialty is required.
Interest in the program Interest in the specifics of our program is desired but not required.
Leadership skills Leadership skills are definitely a benefit as we would prefer candidates who will bring positive changes to our program during their time with us.
Professionalism Interviewers do attempt to gauge the abilities of the candidates to demonstrate or understand issues of professionalism.
Scholarly activities Scholarly activities commensurate will the stage of education of the applicant will be considered. It is understood that different applicants will have had differing exposure to research and publication opportunities.

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

Residents in our program should have an exposure to a wide breadth of neurosurgical clinical activities representing the practice of neurosurgery in Canada.  Our teaching faculty is large and diverse across the neurosurgery subspecialties.   Operative exposure should begin early and be consistent throughout training.

Formal teaching is a priority, and will take precedence over clinical duties.


Residents are encouraged to pursue academic interests, including 1 full year of research training.  They offered the opportunity to take a leave of absence and enter the Graduate Program for a master or doctorate degree or enrol in the CIP program to support their research goals.    There is a large variety of world class, neuroscience related research laboratories and graduate programs available at our institution.


The program helps also aims to faciliate access to fellowships abroad or faculty  positions for graduating residents. 



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.

This residency program is 6 years, consistent with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada guidelines.



The residency program is under the direction of the Division of Neurosurgery of McGill University. It is an integrated program with the main location being at the MNH-MNI. Residents rotate through the neurosurgical services at the MGH, MCH and JGH for sessions of three to six months.  Training is now entirely based on the CBD model of the RCPSC.

The length of the program may depend on the individual resident's goals with respect to research training of further graduate degrees.  Participation in research programs for qualified and interested residents is encouraged during their training. Selected candidates may register for graduate degrees with the approval of the head of the laboratory and the program director.


The academic program includes protected academic half days which include weekly Grand Rounds and a didactic lecture series, morbidity and mortality rounds as well as weekly indication rounds, a neuropathology and a neuroradiology session monthly and journal club as well as chapter reviews monthly. In-training written examinations occur 2 times a year and formal Royal College type mock oral exams twice a year.


PGY 1: 2 blocks of general surgery; 3 blocks of critical care, 2 blocks of vascular surgery, 1 block of emergency medicine (at a trauma centre) and 5 blocks of neurosurgery.

PGY 2: 2 blocks of Neurology, 2 blocks of Radiology, 9 blocks of neurosurgery (including spine trauma and cranial neurotrauma), Surgical Foundations examination in Fall of PGY-2

PGY-3 13 blocks of neurosurgery, including rotations at the Jewish General Hospital for skull base and minimally invasive spine surgery, at the Montreal Children's Hospital for pediatrics, and at the Montreal Neurologic Hospital with rotation for vascular, skull base, neuro-oncology, functional neurosurgery and epilepsy, peripheral nerve, and spine surgery

PGY-4  Participation in Research Program for qualified and interested residents is encouraged during the course of training. Selected residents may register for graduate degrees with the approval of the head of the laboratory and the Program Director.  they can also register to the clinical investigator program (CIP) of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons.  The first year of research is part of the residency training and this can be extended to two further years to obain a degree, or other clinical rotation in a neuroscience related discipline


PGY-5 up to 13 blocks of neurosurgery, including rotations at the Jewish General Hospital for skull base and minimally invasive spine surgery, at the Montreal Children's Hospital for pediatrics, and at the Montreal Neurologic Hospital with rotation for vascular, skull base, neuro-oncology, functional neurosurgery and epilepsy, peripheral nerve, and spine surgery, and possibly elective blocks depending on the resident's goals of training.  Written Royal College examination in neurosurgery in Fall of PGY-5


PGY-6  up to 10 blocks of neurosurgery, including rotations at the Jewish General Hospital for skull base and minimally invasive spine surgery, at the Montreal Children's Hospital for pediatrics, and at the Montreal Neurologic Hospital with rotation for vascular, skull base, neuro-oncology, functional neurosurgery and epilepsy, peripheral nerve, and spine surgery, and possibly elective blocks depending on the resident's goals of training,  3 blocks of neuropathology.  Oral component of the Royal College examination in neurosurgery in Spring of PGY-6.


Chief residency has usually been scheduled for the year from mid PGY5 to mid PGY6.




Training Sites


-Montreal Neurological Hospital & Institute (MNH-MNI)

3801 University Avenue

Montreal Quebec

H3A 2B1


-Montreal General Hospital (MGH)

1650 Cedar Ave,
Montreal, Quebec
H3G 1A4

-Montreal Childrens' Hospital (MCH)

-Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH)

1001 Decarie

Montreal, Quebec,

H4A 3J1


-Jewish General Hospital (JGH)

3755 Chemin de la Côte-Sainte-Catherine,

Montréal, QC

H3T 1E2

Additional Information

An integrated university program providing the possibility of joining the Graduate Studies Program for a graduate degree, including via the CIP pathway. Full training in neurosurgery qualifies the trainee for certification with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons.


While instruction in primarily in English, a majority of our patients speak French, and thus communication skills in both official languages are valued but not essential in a successful candidate.   Our faculty are comfortable providing instruction in English or French as desired by the trainee.

Summary of changes

SUMMARY ID Section Summary of changes Updated on NOTIFY APPLICANTS SECTION NAME Actions