Reapplying to Surgery, Retraining opportunities

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10+ Year Member
Feb 27, 2007
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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!