The Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS) opens to applicants in less than six months, which means one thing: it’s time to start preparing!
The CaRMS application process is a long one and there’s a lot you need to do in order to get your documentation ready in time. For International Medical Graduates (IMG), the process can be even longer. This blog post covers everything that’s involved in the CaRMS IMG residency application process, such as eligibility requirements, CaRMS’ timeline, CaRMS IMG match statistics, and more!
IMG Eligibility & Documents
IMGs have to fulfill the following criteria in order to participate in the CaRMS match process:
- Graduate from a medical school listed in the world directory of medical schools
- Pass the National Assessment Collaboration (NAC) exam
- Pass the Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Exam (MCCQE) Part 1
- Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
CaRMS opens to applicants on October 3rd, 2022, which is when you can start uploading the following documents to your CaRMS account:
- Proof of Canadian citizenship or permanent residency
- Medical school transcript
- Medical student performance record (MSPR) AKA dean’s letter
- Personal statements
- NAC exam results
- MCCQE Part 1 results
- Language assessment results
The number of references differs based on the specific programs to which you’re applying. While some only ask for 3, others may require you to submit as many as 5. Some programs also require that you upload a headshot and some give you the option to upload additional documents that you believe can strengthen your application.
MSPRs describe your overall medical school performance. While the specifics may differ, they usually contain details regarding your performance in clinical rotations and the amount of time you spent in each specialty. They can even give a recommendation for further medical training.
Although MSPRs are commonly issued by Canadian medical schools, Canadian residency programs recognize that medical schools in other countries don’t always provide MSPRs. If your medical school doesn’t issue them, you can write a letter outlining why you’re unable to provide an MSPR and upload the letter to your CaRMS account instead.
If you attended a university that instructs in languages other than English or French, you’ll also have to take a language assessment – such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) – and upload your test results to your CaRMS account. The language assessments and minimum scores accepted by residency programs may differ from province to province, so be sure to check the provincial eligibility criteria.
You can find out the specific documents that each program requires by looking through the CaRMS’s program descriptions. You can also identify the deadlines by which each document has to be submitted via CaRMS’ timeline.
If any of your documents aren’t in English or French, you’ll need to get them translated. Although CaRMS offers a translation service, they only translate between English and French. If your documents aren’t in either of these languages, you’ll have to seek out another translation service such as the following:
CaRMS conducts two rounds of the match every year, referred to as the first and second iterations. You can participate in the second iteration so long as you are unmatched, whether or not you participated in the first iteration. However, since the majority of residency positions are filled in the first iteration, it can be more difficult to match in the second.
This year, program selection for the first iteration opens on December 7th, 2022. At this point, you can select the specific programs to which you want to apply and begin giving them access to the documents that they require. These documents should have been uploaded to your CaRMS account prior to this date.
On June 10th, 2023, residency programs gain access to applications and begin the review process. Since there is no designated IMG interview period, IMGs can have interviews at any point between file reviews and the deadline for the rank order list. Along with an updated interview offer status on CaRMS, you’ll receive an email from the program with the details regarding the interview’s date, time, and location, so make sure you’re keeping an eye on your email!
By March 9th, 2023, you must submit your rank order list – a list of the programs you’d like to work with, in order of preference. Each program also assembles a list of the applicants that they’re interested in taking on. CaRMS uses an algorithm to match applicants and programs based on the preferences expressed in these lists. Matches are announced on March 22nd, 2023.
If you don’t get matched at this point, don’t panic! It’s still possible to match in the second iteration. Program selection for the second iteration opens on March 23rd, 2023, after which you go through the same process as the first iteration: programs start reviewing files on April 3rd and rank order lists are due by April 19th. Match results for the second iteration are released on April 27th.
Want to learn more about how the match’s algorithm works? Check our blog post about the algorithm and best practices to optimize your chances of matching.
CaRMS IMG Match Statistics
It’s generally more difficult for IMGs to match with programs than it is for Canadian medical graduates (CMGs). According to the CaRMS 2022 Forum, here are how the match statistics of IMGs and CMGs compare:
These statistics are somewhat disheartening at first glance. However, there are some avenues you can pursue to improve your application and increase your odds of matching!
Strategies to Improve Your Application
One way to prepare for this process is to participate in the IMG Bridging Program, offered by the Immigration Services Association of Nova Scotia. They work with IMGs based all over the country (not only those based in their province) to prepare for the NAC and MCCQE Part 1 through regular study sessions and review programs. The Bridging Program also offers clinical skills reviews and CaRMS information sessions so that you can be fully prepared to tackle the application process awaiting you.
An additional strategy is to take extra care in selecting your references. The best references are individuals who fulfill the following criteria:
- They know you well and appreciate your work
- They supervised you and can provide a detailed account of your skills
- They’ll speak highly of you
Make sure to reach out to your references several months before your submission deadlines. Then, check in with them regularly to gently remind them of the date by which you plan to submit all of your documents. You can learn more on how to select your references here.
You’ll also need to give yourself lots of time to put together your personal statements. These statements offer you the opportunity to elaborate on elements of your background and experiences that make you an exceptional candidate. Writing an effective personal statement is about how well you construct a narrative out of these elements. You can learn more on how to write a personal statement here.
Make sure to allocate some time to get feedback on your personal statements! In asking someone else to look over your work, you gain a fresh perspective on what you’ve written. A trusted friend, coworker, or supervisor might be able to suggest additional or alternative information or experiences that could bolster your personal statement. Your editors might also pick up on minor grammatical or spelling errors that could have major consequences if assessed by admissions committees.
You can also seek out professional editors. Our team provides feedback on your personal statements as part of our residency application support service. We can help you brainstorm, and tell your story authentically, compellingly, and in a way that reflects what the programs of your choice are seeking.
Reaching out for support doesn’t end once you submit your application. It’s vital that you also prepare for the interview process! Familiarize yourself with common residency interview formats and questions so that you’re ready for any situation you might face during interviews. Then, it’s time to practice! You can practice on your own by recording yourself as you respond to practice questions. When reviewing the footage, take note of your body language and how you express yourself. You can also ask a friend or family member to interview you and provide feedback.
I Got In also offers support with residency interview preparation! With industry professionals on our team, we’re ready to provide you with the inside scoop to help you ace your interviews. We’ll sharpen your communication skills, teaching you the most effective way of structuring and delivering your responses so that you can confidently face your interviewers.
That’s all the advice we have for you today!
Want to learn more about our residency application and interview support? Book a free consultation with one of our specialists to get your residency preparation journey started!