THE CANADIAN RESIDENCY MATCH: HOW IT ALL WORKS
This brief article will focus on the Canadian residency match and how the overall process works.
Match day usually falls on March 8 in Canada, well before graduation. Just like medical students in the
United States, Canadian medical students will enter into the Canadian Resident Match Service (CaRMS)
in the fall of their fourth year of medical school. CaRMS is a non-for-profit organization created by
medical students in 1969. CaRMS is a computer based programmed matching system, designed to aid
medical students to arrange their residency positions with postgraduate programs using an algorithm.
Medical students will rank their hospitals and areas of interest using CaRMS, from highest to lowest.
While medical students rate their specific areas of interests, the residency programs to which eligible
students apply also rank the prospective students using CaRMS. Both sets of ranking lists are
undisclosed. As of 2005 all Canadian medical schools make use of the CaRMS matching service. CaRMS
ensures that all residency programs receive applications on a set date.
Applicant WebStation (AWS) is the CaRMS portal medical students utilize to apply to residency
programs within Canada. This is where students are required to input all their personal information as
well as documents for each particular program applied. Canadian medical graduates are automatically
registered with CaRMS and are E-mailed login information. IMG’s however must go online to the CaRMS
website and register for an application- request for registration. Once an IMG registers with CaRMS and
is approved the applicant will be E-mailed a code, also known as a token. Tokens are not to be shared
between students. The token allows IMG’s to access AWS. Students can begin filling out their online
application only after all necessary fees are paid in full.
There are 4 main steps in the application process which all students must follow. There may be
additional requirements at the program and provincial level which students are also responsible for.
1) Complete the application form
2) Prepare and provide all required documentation in English or French which must be mailed to
the CaRMS office. Mandatory documents include a dean’s letter (medical school performance
letter), personal letter, medical school transcript and reference letters from physicians. The
personal letter is typed directly into AWS.
Extra documents can be submitted which students feel would contribute to their application. However,
some programs do not accept extra documents.
3) Select programs and assign appropriate documents.
4) Rank programs in a Rank Order List. Applicants who fail to submit their Rank Order List by a
specified date are removed from the match of that year without a refund.
There are two matching sessions. The first match is accessible to all medical graduates who have
not yet undergone post-graduate training in North America. Provinces vary their intake of IMG’s. IMG’s
may compete directly with Canadian students or be compared to IMG’s in an equivalent match
depending on the province and program. Therefore, IMG’s will be in competition with other IMG’s for
The entry positions match, R-1, requires students to obtain a medical degree by July 1st of the match
year. Medical students must graduate from an accredited medical school which is defined by the
LCME/CACMS. If the school does not appear on this list, one is considered an international medical
IMG and DO’s in the United States must meet the following criteria: they must have graduated from
an accredited medical school defined by the International Medical Education Directory (IMED). Students
must pass the MCCEE (Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination) part 1. There are many
differences at the provincial and program levels which must be looked into by each potential medical
student to ensure one meets all the requirements. For example, many programs which are provincially
funded require that applicants either be Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Applicants are
required to submit a notarized copy of their birth certificate, Canadian passport and a Canadian
citizenship card or a permanent resident card. Another important factor is that since English and French
are the national languages of Canada, most programs are offered in English or French. Therefore there
may be particular language requirements which can vary between programs.
The second match takes place after the first matching session and is for positions that were not
filled during the first match. Students who are registered for the first matching session will
automatically be registered in the second matching session for that year.
The match can be very stressful and confusing for medical students. There are many online videos
and websites available to help students apply for the residency match with minimal stress. The CaRMS
website is the best way to understand this process and can be found at http://www.carms.ca/. This
website offers video tips and explanations to aid students in every single step of the application process.
Students who have additional questions can E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org with any inquires. Students can also
call 1-877-227-5742 if they would like to speak with CaRMS support staff.
Students are once again advised to look into their specific programs of choice and read the
requirements they must meet for that particular program, province and university. The applications and
prerequisites may vary at these different levels; therefore it is the student’s responsibility to make sure
they have completed their applications in full.