NOSM University - General Surgery - Northern Ontario

2024 R-1 Main Residency Match - first iteration
CMG Stream for CMG

Last approved on November 17, 2023

Summary of changes

Approximate Quota:


Accreditation status : Accredited

Provincial Criteria

Dr. Andrew Smith
c/o Program Coordinator 
Postgraduate Education 
955 Oliver Road
Thunder Bay, Ontario, P7B 5E1
(705) 662-7017
(807) 766-7337
Northern Ontario School of Medicine - General Surgery

Program Contacts

Nina Judge-Levett
Program Coordinator

Important Information

NOSM University General Surgery Information Session

Nov 1

8pm - 9pm

Want to know what it is like to train in General Surgery at NOSM University? Want to know what it is like to work and live in Northern Ontario?

Come meet our Faculty and Residents for an hour-long session to hear what the General Surgery Program and Northern Ontario have to offer!

Join Now


COVID-19 vaccination policy

Please be aware the Ministry of Health has mandated all hospital and health care employers establish, implement and ensure compliance with a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy.  The Ministry directive can be reviewed here. Residents matched to any Ontario residency program must ensure they are able to comply with the Ministry directive in order to start training July 1, 2024.   

It is important to understand this is an evolving issue. You are required to review Provincial, Hospital, University and Program information to ensure you are in continued compliance with directives.  

General Instructions

Program application language: English

Applications will be accepted through the CaRMS R-1 Main Residency Match application process.

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
• Confirmation of Permanent Residence in Canada
• Passport page showing Canadian Citizenship
• Canadian Permanent Resident Card (both sides of card)

IMPORTANT NOTICE: As per the Ontario Provincial Eligibility Criteria, if you are submitting a Canadian Birth Certificate or Act of Birth, or Confirmation of Permanent Residence in Canada document, you MUST submit a government issued photo I.D. to accompany your citizenship documentation.

Reference documents
Number requested: 3

Reference letters must be written by clinical teachers and/or faculty who have reasonable knowledge of you, either through close association in clinical training situations or as your faculty advisor. References should provide an assessment of your: medical knowledge; clinical skills; interpersonal skills; ability to communicate effectively; and your attitudes toward learning.

Additional documents
[Note: Photograph is used as memory aid only]

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 : 1000

A personal letter (maximum 1000 words) focusing on the following:

  • experiences that led to your interest in General Surgery;
  • aspects of the NOSM General Surgery program that interest you;
  • personal qualities that make you an ideal candidate for surgical practice;
  • how you anticipate this program will assist you in becoming an excellent General Surgeon;
  • your greatest challenge if you are accepted into this program;
  • additional information about yourself that should be considered by the Selection Panel.

If your transcript/CV indicates academic difficulty, failure(s), repeat of a year or any gaps in your education or work history please attach a supplementary statement to the END of your Personal Letter entitled "Transcript/CV Addendum" explaining the above.

Custom Résumé / CV 

Optional - will be reviewed

Review Process

Applications submitted after file review has opened on December 2, 2023

Supporting documents (excluding letters of reference) that arrive after file review has opened  on  December 2, 2023

Letters of reference that arrive after the unmasking date on December 2, 2023

  • Applications will be reviewed and scored independently by a combination of 2-4 program faculty members and residents.  Scores will be generated for each applicant and the program will offer interviews to approximately the top 25-30 candidates.
  • All eligible applicants from medical schools in Canada will be considered.



  • January 21, 2024
Interviews will be held virtually on Sunday, January 21, 2024.

Program will notify all applicants through CaRMS Online and will send email invitations directly to applicants selected for an interview.
It is anticipated candidates will participate in one or two individual interviews. Interview teams will be comprised of faculty members including the Program Director, Site Directors and current NOSM General Surgery Residents ranging from PGY2 - PGY5.  Current PGY1 General Surgery Residents (non-interviewers) will be available as program ambassadors and are happy to share their experiences in the program and answer questions that our candidates may have.  The program coordinator will also be available as a resource.  

A program overview will be provided electronically prior to interviews, by either the Program Director or a senior resident or both.  Additional information will be included in the emailed interview offer and confirmation package.

Selection Criteria

Candidates for the General Surgery Residency Program at NOSM are selected based on the following factors:

  • demonstrated interest in and knowledge of General Surgery and the NOSM General Surgery Program
  • strength of academic record (performance, medical knowledge and clinical abilities)
  • strength of references
  • strong interpersonal, communication and collaborative skills
  • evidence of self-directed learning, reflective practice, a high standard of professionalism and resiliency
  • strong desire to train in northern clinical settings as well as tertiary hospitals

 These factors are assessed through the following:

  • a personal interview
  • the review of the personal letter
  • the review of performance assessments from clinical rotations in medical school, particularly during General surgery rotations and/or electives
  • the review of letters of reference

Program goals

Our mission is to educate residents who have a strong surgical and procedural aptitude to become competent specialists in General Surgery, prepared to practise in any setting, including rural and northern communities.

Our goal is to deliver a comprehensive hands-on curriculum that's designed to ensure that all of the General Surgery CanMEDS training objectives outlined by the Royal College are met, thus allowing our residents to acquire and hone all the necessary skills/competencies to develop into highly knowledgeable, professional, skilled surgeons.


Selection process goals

Through our selection process, our program aims to identify candidates who have a strong academic history with demonstrated competence and interest in general surgery (e.g. surgical rotations, electives, scholarly activities, conference involvement and other related work or life experiences). We are seeking candidates who possess superior clinical communication skills and have the ability to relate to patients, their families, and caregivers with compassion, empathy, sensitivity and humility.

We are looking for candidates who possess the ability and willingness to work collaboratively (within and across professional domains) in a team dynamic to secure optimal patient outcomes, while exemplifying the highest standards of professional behavior -- inclusive of responsibility, respect, and self-awareness.

We are also looking to identify candidates who would be a good fit for our program. Candidates who are well suited to our program are those with a strong surgical and procedural aptitude, who can adapt and thrive in a hands-on, distributed rural residency program that requires flexibility and some travel away from their primary location of residence. 

We also believe that candidates who are resilient, can prioritize their personal well-being and work-life balance, and are also committed to self-directed learning and reflective practice, continuing professional development, and quality improvement, are well-suited to our program. Through our selection process we aim to identify and successfully match candidates who possess these attributes as well.


File review process

Review team composition : The file review team consists of program faculty and residents. Each application will be reviewed and scored independently by a combination of 2-4 program faculty members and residents.

Average number of applications received by our program in the last five years : 51 - 200
The program receives an average of around 70-80 applications each year.

Average percentage of applicants offered interviews : 51 - 75 %
The program offers interviews to approximately the top 25-30 candidates.

Evaluation criteria :
File component Criteria
CV Academic & work background/experiences, personal/professional achievements/awards, volunteerism
Electives Surgical elective(s), diverse range relevant to the discipline, rural and/or northern an asset
Examinations We do not evaluate this file component.
Extra-curricular An asset to demonstrate work-life balance and wellness, personal interests. Include in CV
Leadership skills Any leadership roles held throughout training should be outlined in the CV
MSPRs Patient interactions, surgical rotation competencies, academic/personal/professionalism concerns
Personal letters Practise goals, interest/knowledge in surg. and our program, personal and northern/rural suitability
Reference documents Commitment to surgery, performance, knowledge/clinical skills, character/attitude towards learning
Research/Publications Past achievements/successes and interest in participating in future scholarly activity
Transcripts Strength of academic record, any red flags/concerns
Other file component(s) Transcript/CV Addendum:

If any part of your application indicates academic difficulty, failure(s), repeat of a year or any gaps in your education or work history, a supplementary statement at the END of your Personal Letter is required. Please entitle your statement as "Transcript/CV Addendum", explaining the above.

Elective criteria

We are looking for and rewarding applicants who have completed a broad range of electives including in our discipline.
We do not require applicants to have done onsite electives.

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 Demonstrated ability to work well in a team setting/multidisciplinary environment
Collegiality Personable, respectful towards others, values the importance of a supportive/collegial atmosphere
Communication skills Able to reflect and communicate responses clearly and concisely, can communicate well with others
Health advocacy We do not formally evaluate this component during the interview
Interest in the discipline Genuine passion and clear understanding of Gen Surg., past experiences, future practice goals
Interest in the program Knowledgeable about our program, training sites, northern Ontario patient populations and challenges
Leadership skills Qualities such as: proactive/takes initiative, accountable, innovative, motivated and goal-oriented
Professionalism Conducts themselves in a professional manner, self-aware, unbiased, morally/ethically responsible
Scholarly activities We do not formally evaluate this component during the interview
Other interview component(s) Problem-Solving Skills: Overcoming challenges, conflict resolution, ability to rationalize and take appropriate action.

Personal Attributes: Personal characteristics and interests, learning style/attitude towards learning.

Knowledge: Ability to apply clinical knowledge, assess, plan, and respond accordingly.

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

  • Early surgical skill training
  • Individualized educational goals focused on anatomy and surgical procedures; 24 hour in-hospital access to full body cadavers
  • Unparalleled preceptor support from knowledgeable surgeons committed to practicing in Northern Ontario
  • Early integration as a key member of a health care team dedicated to professionalism, high quality patient care and excellent medical education
  • Exposure to the culture and social fabric of Francophone and Indigenous communities
  • Opportunity to participate in research under expert guidance
  • Opportunity for learning experience in a range of Northern urban, rural and remote clinical settings
  • Funding available for research, professional development and conferences
  • Provision of financial support for resident travel to and from core clinical placements away from the home base and all mandatory educational activities at non home base locations


Program Curriculum

This residency program is for 5 years.

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

The NOSM General Surgery program includes core rotations and subspecialty rotations selected to incorporate a diversity of experience and proficiency in subspecialty areas integral to a future practice as a General Surgeon.

Based on the resident’s personal learning plan, the content, sequence of training and schedule of movement between teaching sites may vary. Years one and two comprise the core program (Surgical Foundations). In the fall of PGY2, the core program residents will be eligible to take the Surgical Foundations Examination, which must be successfully completed prior to the fellowship exams.

Residents spend the majority of their first year in either Sudbury or Thunder Bay, providing them with an opportunity to become acquainted with colleagues and to gain a foundation of skills before traveling outside of this home base. After this, there are multiple options available for ongoing training for a variety of rotations in the following communities: Thunder Bay, Sudbury, North Bay, Sault Ste Marie, Huntsville and Ottawa. The majority of training will be completed in Northern Ontario. Residents are required to provide their own vehicle.

 Content of Training - sample structure (PGY1&2 can be redistributed with approval of Program Director)


  • 7 blocks General Surgery – (split between Sudbury & Thunder Bay)
  • 2 Blocks Endoscopy
  • 2 Blocks Community General Surgery
  • 2 blocks of selectives – (residents will rank the following selectives 1-4)
    • 1 Block Urology
    • 1 block Plastics
    • 1 Block MCTU
    • 1 Block Emergency Medicine



  • 2 Blocks ICU
  • 1 Block Trauma (Ottawa) 
  • 1 Block Research
  • 1 block Thoracic/Vascular surgery
  • 4 blocks General Surgery - in PGY2 home site
  • 2 blocks Community General Surgery
  • 2 blocks Pediatrics (Ottawa)



  • 1 block Vascular/Thoracic Surgery
  • 2-4 blocks Community General Surgery (residents will rank their preference)
  • 2-4 blocks Electives
  • 6 blocks General Surgery in Sudbury/Thunder Bay


**Resident must pass the Surgical Foundations exam prior to progressing to PGY-4


  • Remaining electives - can include community (up to 4 total)
  • Up to 13 blocks in General Surgery in Sudbury/Thunder Bay

 **Alternate sites between chiefs


13 blocks in General Surgery alternating between Thunder bay and Sudbury (7 and 6 blocks)


Academics are delivered to the full resident group during two to three full day sessions which occur usually every two months throughout the year.  The residents will gather together for these academic days during protected time from clinical duties. Residents will also have the opportunity to participate in PGY1 Core Curriculum events, local community educational rounds, presentations, journal clubs and rounds through a WebEx online classroom as well as the Ontario Telemedicine Network. 


Surgical Foundations: Residents in the first two years of training will attend the Surgical Foundations Program.  Around the 15th month of training, residents in the program will write a final exam set by the Royal College.  Faculty led teaching sessions will normally occur weekly on Tuesday afternoons from 1400 - 1700h.



All residents are expected to complete and present a minimum of two research projects over the five-year program.  

In discussion with the Program Director and Research Coordinator, up to one half-day per week can be set aside as protected time for research. 

Research electives can also be arranged.   


Training Sites

Residents will be based out of Thunder Bay and Sudbury, with some general surgery rotations occurring throughout NOSM's distributed geographical area,  with approval from the Program Director.

Additional Information

To learn more about northern Ontario, please visit the "Wider Campus of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine" webpage. 

Summary of changes

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