Are Postgraduate Medical Residency Training Positions in Atlantic Canada Evenly Distributed?

Paul Atkinson , Mike Howlett, Jacqueline MacKay, Jacqueline Fraser, Peter Ross



The distribution of postgraduate medical training (residency) positions in Canada is administered by medical schools and universities in conjunction with individual provinces. In Atlantic Canada, the Maritime provinces are considered a single unit under Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia (NS), although distributed medical undergraduate education through Dalhousie and Sherbrooke has enabled medical students to complete their entire course of study in New Brunswick (NB). It is unclear if postgraduate medical education has been distributed in a similar fashion in Atlantic Canada, particularly in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island (PE).


Data on the number of R1 residency positions was obtained from the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS) database. The distribution of R1 positions was described and compared nationally and through the Atlantic provinces. The analysis was completed using MS Excel and Prism.


Rates of R1 positions per million persons varied widely; the national median rate was 97 positions per million persons, with a range of 34 to 138. The combined Maritime provinces rate of R1 positions was 71 per million persons and the rate in Newfoundland (NL) was 138 positions per million. The NS rate was 106 positions per million while the NB rate was 54 per million and the PE rate 34 per million. Sixty-four percent of all residency training positions in Atlantic Canada were based in the two most urban areas of Halifax, NS or St John’s, NL. Royal College (specialty) positions were more likely to be based at the main university campus city than family medicine training positions (97 vs. 3%; 33 vs. 67%, respectively).

fig 1 per millions


There is a high level of variation in available residency positions among the individual provinces, especially in Atlantic Canada. The lower prevalence of opportunities in NB and PE may influence the ability of these provinces to recruit and retain new physicians.

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