• SDN Site Updates

    Hey everyone! The site will be down for approximately 2 hours on Thursday, August 5th for site updates.


New Member
10+ Year Member
Feb 27, 2007
Status (Visible)
  1. Medical Student
Dear all,

I am a 4th year medical student from Canada and I want to consult you guys about possible options of pursuing a career in surgery (main Gen Surg or Ortho). This is my situation:

I came to realized that I want to pursue a surgery career very late in my training, and as a result I could no longer apply through the Canadian Residency Matching Services for a surgical program. At the time of application, I ended up submitting for residency in Internal Medicine, Psychiatry, or Family Medicine. Now, I am uncertain if I should rank at all, because I want to see if there is any way at all for me to ever become a surgeon. I am wondering about the possible options of taking a year off to do some research and reapplying next year in both Canada and the US. Many people cautioned me against that, saying that I will look bad to the Program Directors. I want to see your thoughts.

My other option is matching into Family Medicine first and hoping to be able to switch into a surgical program. I realize the lack of funding can make this switch difficulty. The final option is to finish my family medicine residency, and look for retraining opportunities in surgery either in Canada or in the US. I'm not sure how feasible is this route in the states but I know in Canada retraining is difficult to get and often has return-to-service contracts to underserved areas.

Are there any other options for me, or is my surgery door basically closed at this stage of my early career?

Thank you all for your help!


Senior Member
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Nov 16, 2003
Status (Visible)
I'd say your first option is the most feasible/easiest (that is, taking a year off to do research). Especially if you get some papers published or get another degree, I don't see how this couldn't look good to programs.
It is very difficult to switch from family to surgery, as you know, b/c of the funding for only a 2 year program rather than a 5 year program (in Canada). A better bet would be to match into Internal and then try to switch, as at least they are both funded positions for 5 years.
Retraining after completing residency would be very hard to maneuver- isn't it something like only 12 people a year are allowed to do this thru the Royal College/Carms?? Or perhaps that is 12 people per year in Quebec..but I remember hearing the number 12 and that's not a lot when you consider you're up against doctors from other countries that want to retrain in Canada to be eligible to practice there.

If you really want to do surgery, take the year off. Don't goof off with your time...do something useful and apply again. Really, you only have about 6 months before the whole process starts all over again, anyways. Not a lot of time to kill.

This is just what I know from being a 4th year med student currently applying to the Match, with a mother who has done the Match 3 times, a father who has done it once, and all of my classmates also doing the Match in both the US and Canada.

Best of luck,


New Member
15+ Year Member
Jan 31, 2004
Status (Visible)
More people than you know switch to a different program during/after first year of residency. Rank internal and psych since they have 5 years of funding attached. As soon as you match, start emailing the program director of surgery where you match. Let him/her know of your interest in switching into surgery. Do residency elective time with them. The program you match to may not be thrilled, but they don't really want to force people to stay in the program if they don't want to be there either. From my class, which went through CaRMS last year, I have heard of one guy switching from psych to ER and another switching from internal to anesthesia. It is probably easier to switch into a competitive residency than to match into it. There is no good reason to take a year off unless money is no issue and you wouldn't mind going through CaRMS again start to finish (the thought makes me shudder). Good luck!


Full Member
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Sep 5, 2003
Status (Visible)
  1. Attending Physician
why not scramble for a prelim surgery position at a good program and then either look for an open pgy2 slot next year or reapply for a categorical surgery position next year.
About the Ads
This thread is more than 14 years old.

Your message may be considered spam for the following reasons:

  1. Your new thread title is very short, and likely is unhelpful.
  2. Your reply is very short and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  3. Your reply is very long and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  4. It is very likely that it does not need any further discussion and thus bumping it serves no purpose.
  5. Your message is mostly quotes or spoilers.
  6. Your reply has occurred very quickly after a previous reply and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  7. This thread is locked.