This post is like a prologue, merely telling only how I got the chance to go to Canada for a fellowship, while the main story is yet to begin (my Fellowship begins from Aug 2019). The idea to apply to Canada for a fellowship stemmed from two things. First, and most obviously, the desire to pursue a respectable international fellowship program. And second, to do so without the ordeal of additional exams. From my research, the only place fulfilling both was Canada. The only glitch is that, they accept applications for two years hence (there is a catch here though, read on to find out). That is, applications open in May, and will be for a fellowship which begins 2 years later. As they say, patience is a virtue.
The Canadians have succinctly enlisted all the fellowship programs, by university as well as by the subspecialty on the following link: https://car.ca/membership/resident-section/fellowships/. However, this page is not up to date, some fellowship programs have been stopped and many of the links provided within the list do not work. Thus, its best to simply get a fair idea of the universities, and go to each university site and figure them out (the list isn’t too long and its really not as tedious as it sounds). Either you can approach the selection by university or by the field of interest. The obvious way would be via your choice of speciality; however the Canadians allow you to apply for two fellowships at once, and I would recommend to keep an open mind and try for two when you have varying interests. The only exception is when you are opting for interventional radiology or paediatric radiology as your first choice. For both of these, only one choice is allowed.
Note that deadlines for Toronto universities are sooner than the rest (usually 30th June for majority of the programs in Toronto, whilst the rest can vary- best to check according to your field of interest) and that deadlines for different programs within the same university can be different. Another thing while shortlisting the universities to keep in mind is, that the following universities require French as a second language: Université de Montréal, Université de Sherbrook, Université Laval (pretty obvious from the names itself).
Requirements for application (submitted entirely online) are: one statement of purpose (two, if applying for two courses), three recommendation letters (one from program director aka HOD of your postgraduate program/ equivalent), scanned medical degree, IELTS results and CV. To elaborate on each,
Statement of purpose: a letter telling why you want what you want, your inspirations, your goals, etc, Umpteen samples are available online, but I would just say that write it like a heartfelt conversation about your professional personality and career aspirations. Tell them something that will convince them why you should be given the chance. And best not to repeat what is already on your CV.
Recommendation letters: Your professors who are recommending you will have to mail the university directly.
IELTS: All universities will ask for these results (with a minimum score of 7 in each module), however, the results are only valid for 2 years. So I gave the exam only after I got the fellowship offer. It is a pretty straightforward exam, 2-3 weeks of practice are sufficient. During my application, I wrote that I will be giving the exam soon. They do mention on their website that those who have already given the exam will be given preference, so if you have given it, it’s a bonus.
Whilst applying make sure you choose fully funded positions (NOT self funded/sponsored).
Applying is pretty straightforward, just go for it, there’s nothing to lose. Follow your heart, and give it a chance. Once you have sent your applications, sit back and relax. Canadian universities do not send a letter of rejection. If you don’t hear from them, it’s an assumed no. They will only contact you if they have approved and will further take an interview (this could be over the phone/Skype/university may ask to visit). But there’s one thing you can keep a tab on, which is, they have this system of emergency openings (probably secondary to a selected candidate withdrawing last minute). Keep an eye out for these, for these will be for sooner than 2 years, mostly for the next immediate session (Fellowships start from July). These are posted on each university website fellowship page.
From my own experience: I did not apply to Toronto; I had missed the date. I applied to three other universities in September 2017. I got a call for interview from one in January 2018, and the other in April 2018. So there’s really no timeline as to when they may contact you. Also, there’s no clear formula for what they are looking for. Some say having a lot of publications, presentations etc is essential but I beg to differ. Not everybody are lucky enough to get the right opportunities or their residency program doesn’t permit the time to have a few articles to your name, and that’s ok. Your passion towards your subject should be reflected in your application, be it on your CV or your statement of purpose. Be honest and genuine; that’s it.
One thing I do know for sure though, you have to apply to get it!
For any questions, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, almost all universities are very approachable and more than happy to answer any queries via email, quite promptly. All their contact information is available online.
All the best!
– Dr Nikshita Jain
Edit on 18.10.20: Dr Vamshi Kotha (email@example.com), University of Calgary, has kindly created a list of the Universities and Programs to apply to in Canada; a big thanks to him
PS: You can check our other blogs on training abroad in our section ‘Beyond the Shores’.