Letters of reference

Letters of reference are letters or evaluation forms provided by physicians, professors or non-clinical individuals (also known as referees) recommending applicants for further medical training.

All letters of reference received at CaRMS are treated as confidential and are not shared with or returned to applicants or referees. Applicants are not entitled to review letters of reference or evaluations provided by a referee, nor can they request information regarding the content or tone of a reference letter or evaluation.

In order to ensure program directors receive the information they need to evaluate applicants, we recommend letters of reference include:   

  • A confidentiality statement indicating whether or not the applicant has seen or will receive a copy of the letter;
  • The date the letter was written
  • The time and duration of the referee’s contact with the applicant
  • Assessment of the applicant’s:
    • Cognitive skills and knowledge
    • Problem solving and patient management skills
    • Behaviour and attitudinal skills
    • Communication skills and working relationships
    • Motivation and punctuality
    • Sense of responsibility
    • Procedural skills specific to the discipline
    • Special qualities and unique contributions

If referees are unable to comment on a specific component of an applicant’s performance in any of the above categories, they should indicate that they have not observed or do not have knowledge of that specific component in their letter.