University of Calgary - Neurosurgery - Calgary

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

Last approved on September 26, 2022

Approximate Quota:


Accreditation status : Accredited

Provincial Criteria

Dr. Jay Riva-Cambrin
Clinical Neurosciences 
Foothills Hospital  
1403 - 29 St. N.W.
Calgary, Alberta, T2N 2T9
Neurosurgery Residency
Division of Neurosurgery

Program Contacts

Dr. Jay Riva-Cambrin
Residency Program Director

Melissa Robertson
Program Administrator

Important Information

Neurosurgery is now entering our fifth year of CBD training involving all incoming R1 residents.   Training objectives are currently being revised to incorporate the set milestones developed by the Royal College. 

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

IELTS, OET or CELPIP is required by CPSA for candidates from medical schools in Quebec except for candidates from McGill and for IMG candidates.  Please check CPSA for ELP updates.

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.

Personal Letter 
Word count
Minimum : None
Maximum : 1000

please limit your personal letter to one page

Custom Résumé / CV 


[Note: Photograph is used as memory aid only]

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.

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 9, 2023
  • February 10, 2023
Calgary interviews will be carried out the afternoons of February 9 and 10, 2023.  Interviews will be conducted in two groups - either February 9 or 10 via Zoom.  All applicants will be invited to attend the virtual Neurosurgery rounds on February 10.  It is anticipated that all applicants would have had the opportunity to join and participate in our resident teaching sessions at some point prior to these interviews.  

Program will notify all applicants through CaRMS Online and will send email invitations directly to applicants selected for an interview.
The program director prescreens the applications, then candidates are contacted by email to arrange interviews spanning 1-2 days. The group of interviewees will be invited to attend Neurosurgery Rounds from 0700-0800 and city-wide Neuroscience Rounds from 0800-1000 via Zoom.  The format of the virtual interviews will be provided when candidates are selected for interview.  

Selection Criteria

Selection is based on past experience in neurosurgery, a strong academic record, commitment to academic activities including teaching and research, excellent communication and interpersonal skills, and ability to cope with stress.  

Program goals

It is the purpose of this Residency Training Program to provide its residents with a world-class education and experience in the principles and practice of Neurological Surgery.  At the end of their residency, Royal College candidates in Neurosurgery should be proficient in all aspects of regular cranial, spinal and peripheral nerve Neuorsurgical practices and be faniliar with all aspects of sub-specialized Neurosurgical care. 

Selection process 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, cultural and ethnic perspectives in research methodology, data presentation and analysis.  On completion of the educational program, the graduate physician will be competent to function as a consultant in Neurosurgery. 

File review process

Review team composition : Applications are reviewed by the Program Director and 2-3 faculty members of the Residency Program Committee. Input will be obtained from the residents for those candidates that have participated in any of our virtual teaching sessions during the academic year.

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 completeness and up to date
Electives Elective experiences were severely limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will not be considering electives in file review to ensure file review is fair and equitable for all candidates.
Examinations We do not evaluate this file component.
Extra-curricular we do not evaluate this file component
Leadership skills we do not evaluate this file component
MSPRs grades and awards
Personal letters a genuine interest in neurosurgery
Reference documents performance on electives, intelligence and personality
Research/Publications strengths, numbers, and affiliation to neurosurgery
Transcripts brief review to ensure there are no "red flags"

Elective criteria

Elective experiences were severely limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will not be considering electives in the file review to ensure file review is fair and equitable for all candidates.
Elective experiences were severely limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will not be considering electives in the file review to ensure file review is fair and equitable for all candidates.

Elective experiences were severely limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will not be considering electives in the file review to ensure file review is fair and equitable for all candidates.

Interview process

Interview format :

We do not re-schedule interviews for applicants after we have completed the scheduling process.

Interview evaluation criteria :
Interview components Criteria
Collaboration skills each candidate is evaluated on an individual basis
Collegiality each candidate is evaluated on an individual basis
Communication skills each candidate is evaluated on an individual basis
Health advocacy each candidate is evaluated on an individual basis
Interest in the discipline important to ensure the candidate is committed
Interest in the program important to ensure the candidate is committed
Leadership skills each candidate is evaluated on an individual basis
Professionalism each candidate is evaluated on an individual basis
Scholarly activities not a major concern however important for research pursuits
Other interview component(s) As all interviews will be held virtually, the format is still being considered. Applicants will be advised of the process at the time of interview selections.

Information gathered outside of CaRMS application

We do not consider any information gathered outside of the CaRMS application and local interview processes.

Ranking process

The behavior(s) exhibited below during the interview process may prevent an applicant from being ranked by our program :

Program Highlights

Our neurosurgical residents enjoy a congenial association amongst themselves and attending staff.  There are 2-3 resident functions throughout the year at which residents and their spouses/significant others can attend for a bit of relaxation.  Past events have included bowling, hiking, skiing, and go karting to name a few in addition to our annual resident retreat.  

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.


In addition to introductory rotations on Neurosurgery, this year is also comprised of 5 blocks on Internal Medicine, and General Surgery to further solidify a core medical / surgical background and prepare the resident for their Surgical Foundations Examination.  In addition, an additional block is provided for an "elective" subsequent to discussions with the program director.   The new Royal College Competency by Design training for Neurosurgery came into effect July 1, 2018 and will gradually replace the previous CanMEDS training format.


Another 6 blocks of Neurosurgery along with 3 blocks of Neurology and 4 blocks of ICU experience serve to complete this final year of "core" training.  

PGY-3 to 6

This period will include 25 blocks of neurosurgery, 6 blocks of pediatric neurosurgery and 2 blocks of endovascular neurosurgery with graduated responsibility for patient care and surgical procedures, 3 blocks in neuropathology, 3 blocks in neuroradiology and 13 blocks (1 year) of research.


A 13-block research rotation is mandatory. This time interval is considered a minimum, and may be extended as necessary. Collaboration with clinician scientists and scientists of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute is encouraged. Research time may be used for clinical or basic science projects. Alternatively candidates are encouraged to pursue Master's or PhD pathways in Neuroscience and Medical Education. Funding is generally available through residency stipend, Alberta Heritage for Medical Research, and Canadian Institute of Health Research.

Academic Activity

Seminars in basic science, neuropathology, neuroradiology and neuroscience occur weekly. Educational time is protected to foster academic development of the resident.  Residents are expected to participate in research and publish in peer review journals each year of their residency.  Peer-reviewed presentation at national meetings is strongly encouraged and heavily supported by the Division.

not applicable

Training Sites


-Alberta Children's Hospital

-Foothills Hospital

- some rotations are carried out at the Peter Lougheed, South Health Campus and Rockyview Hospitals

-The ratio of residents to faculty is 17 faculty: 16 residents

-Residents are provided with access to electronic medical resources and on-line journals 24/7

-There are no mandatory rural rotations

-Opportunities for interprovincial and international electives exist within the program

Additional Information

Highlights -

  • all adult neurosurgery at one institution
  • comprehensive complex ortho/neuro spine program
  • intra-operative MRI/robotic arm program
  • close proximity and collaboration with Alberta Children's Hospital
  • designated Level 1 trauma facility
  • all subspecialty interests including epilepsy, functional, cerebrovascular and peripheral nerve