The University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine’s program in neonatal-perinatal medicine is a 2 to 3 year residency training program designed to train academic neonatologists.

Trainees wishing to complete 1-2 years of training for a non-academic role can be considered for admission to the program as well. The program is open for Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) subspecialty certification to trainees who have a Royal College Certification in pediatrics or have completed at least 3 years of a Royal College approved training program in pediatrics. Clinical fellows may also be accepted to the program for one or more years to gain additional training in neonatal-perinatal medicine, although they will not receive certification by the RCPSC.

Clinical training takes place in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and in the Neonatal-Perinatal Unit of The Ottawa Hospital (TOH) - General Campus (the regional perinatal centre). These two hospitals are connected by an aerial walkway which passes through the buildings housing the Faculties of Medicine  and Health Sciences, the CHEO Research Institute (CHEO RI) and the Centre for Practice Changing Research (CPCR). There are approximately 14,000 live births annually in Eastern Ontario, Western Quebec and the Baffin Island region of Nunavut.

Our training program has several unique features. Trainees work in two tertiary level three NICUs that offer very different experiences. CHEO is a pediatric hospital that has full pediatric subspecialty representation including a pediatric cardiovascular surgery program while The Ottawa Hospital - General Campus is the high-risk perinatal centre for the region.

The region’s large catchment area allows for exposure to a wide variety of neonatal pathology. At the same time, our program allows our trainees to gain hands-on experience with all aspects of caring for sick neonates and learning to run a level three academic NICU.

Our division members are a diverse and dynamic group of individuals who are at various stages in their careers. Many have trained in units around the world and have a wide variety of clinical and research interests.

The program has a strong commitment to clinical teaching and mentorship and utilizes resources at the CHEO RI to augment research training.

We offer competitive remuneration, diverse clinical experience and a multitude of research opportunities.

Program structure

The first year of training focuses on the development of knowledge and clinical skills in neonatal-perinatal medicine as well as development of research skills. It includes a total of six 28-day blocks of NICU (3 each at CHEO and TOH-GC), one block of maternal-fetal medicine, one block of neonatal follow-up and development, and one block of genetics (if not done previously). Up to four blocks are available for research. The resident may choose to do an elective in a pediatric subspecialty or level 2 NICU. Clinical fellows who are only doing one year of training are offered 6 to 7 blocks of NICU (3 to 4 each at CHEO and TOH-GC) and 2 or more research blocks. They will have the opportunity to do 1 to 3 blocks of other rotations (MFM, genetics, neonatal follow-up or surgery) depending on the availability of these rotations.

The second year objectives include consolidation of clinical knowledge and skills as well as the development of research skills. The year includes a total of six 28-day blocks of NICU (3 each at CHEO and TOH-GC), one block of neonatal transport and one block of consulting neonatology. If a resident reaches a high level of proficiency, 1 to 2 3 blocks of the NICU rotations may be organized in which the trainee functions as a “junior attending”. The remaining 5 research blocks are available to complete a scholarly project. One or more of these blocks can also be used for elective time.

Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine is a certified Royal College subspecialty, thus trainees eligible for Royal College certification may undergo the written exam at the end of the second or third year. If the resident chooses, they may take a third year of training devoted to furthering their scholarly project, consolidation of research skills, or earning a Masters degree. Clinical rotations will be set up to meet the needs of the individual.

Neonatal residents play a role in teaching and supervising more junior pediatric residents, medical students and neonatal nurse practitioners. This consists of structured and informal teaching sessions, assisting with clinical questions in the unit and on patient rounds as well as teaching neonatal procedures. The neonatal residents will often buddy a junior trainee while on call and provide support in the day-to-day tasks in the NICU.

There will not be more than 7 calls per 28-day rotation, with 2 free weekends. We have three lines on-call system; one resident/Fellow on-call at CHEO and two residents on-call at TOH each night. We also have a senior Fellow/Resident who is doing in-house call and support trainees on-call in both CHEO and TOH NICUs.


Over two years, the Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine subspecialty training program is comprised of:

Minimum 12 blocks of NICU, divided equally between the 2 sites

  • 1 block of genetics
  • 1 block of neonatal follow up/child development
  • 1 block of maternal-fetal medicine
  • 1 block of transport medicine
  • 1 block of consulting pediatrics
  • Up to 9 blocks of elective/research

Trainees may spend a total of four months in the two years doing rotations away from Ottawa. Electives done in the past have included pediatric intensive care, pediatric surgery, pediatric palliative care, pediatric cardiology and level 2 neonatology.

Most of the fellowship is focused on acquisition of knowledge and skills with the trainee following patients under the supervision of the attending staff and doing in-house call. Once deemed ready, usually toward the latter half of the second year, the trainee has the opportunity to act as a “junior attending”, doing call from home and acting in a more supervisory role.

Rounds and teaching

We have a comprehensive teaching curriculum covering all CanMEDS key competencies based on a two-year cycle that involves protected attendance for our trainees at the weekly neonatal academic half day. Presentations are made by neonatologists, pediatric subspecialists, other guest speakers and neonatal-perinatal trainees.

Topics covered include, but are not limited to:

  • Morbidity and mortality reviews 
  • Neonatal ethics series
  • Journal club
  • Systems-based neonatal “hot topics” 

Trainees are also encouraged to attend weekly staff neonatologist rounds where difficult or controversial cases from each unit are discussed. Other teaching sessions include mock codes, perinatal high risk rounds, combined prenatal diagnosis rounds and various pediatric rounds offered through the Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics at CHEO.

Clinical programs

We have access to all levels of diagnostic and therapeutic technology relevant to neonatal medicine. We have a rapidly expanding simulation program that provides neonatal-perinatal trainees, pediatric residents, nurses and respiratory therapists with hands-on opportunities to work on team communication and resuscitation skills through scheduled mock codes. 

Our Neonatal-Perinatal Training Program offers interested trainees from around the world a highly organized and comprehensive educational program over two or three years that includes experience running a busy level 3 NICU and developing and implementing research projects.

Our program is affiliated with the CHEO RI and the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) both of which provide research support and funding to our trainees and staff.


The NICU at CHEO is a newly renovated, fully equipped unit and has 20 level III beds and individual patient rooms. CHEO’s NICU admits approximately 380 babies per year, all of whom are outborn and transported by the neonatal transport team. All babies in the neonatal period who require surgical procedures, complex subspecialty investigation, or who have significant congenital heart disease, are admitted to CHEO NICU. There is a fully operational cardiac surgery program at CHEO as well as clinical representation of all pediatric subspecialties. Clinical service is provided by pediatric and neonatal-perinatal residents as well as neonatal nurse practitioners, in collaboration with a multi-disciplinary team, all of whom function under the supervision of the staff neonatologist. 

At TOH-GC there are 3,600 births annually and it is the main site for high-risk deliveries in the region. The TOH-GC NICU admits 800 babies per year, 150 of whom weigh less than 1500g, and has a capacity of 24 bassinets (14 level III, 10 level II). Clinical service is provided by a multi-disciplinary team, which includes residents from several services and neonatal nurse practitioners. There are frequent and extensive consultations and discussion, both formal and informal, with the perinatologists at the TOH-GC. These include a weekly high-risk neonatal clinic to provide counselling to all expectant parents where a diagnosis of a fetal anomaly has been made and 600 formal, antenatal consultations yearly by the neonatal team on hospital in-patients. The neonatal team performs neonatal consultations, upon request, on babies who are under the care of the community pediatrician while in hospital. There are approximately 600 combined antenatal and perinatal consults per year. Clinical service is provided by a multi-disciplinary team which includes residents from several services and neonatal nurse practitioners.

Being situated in the nation's capital gives the unique advantage of being affiliated with a university and hospitals where programs and patient care are offered in both of Canada's official languages.

We are also closely affiliated with the level 2 nurseries in the city and provide clinical guidance and educational support to their staff. Babies within our region are transported by our own neonatal transport team, consisting of a neonatal transport nurse and transport respiratory therapist. 

Research opportunities

Neonatal-perinatal medicine trainees are expected to undertake a scholarly project with the aid of a supervisor from the division and are provided ample time during the program to pursue their project. Each trainee is expected to complete at least one scholarly project during their two years of training period and present their results locally or at an appropriate national or international conference. Funds are available to assist the trainee with travel to present his/her findings at such a meeting. Examples of a scholarly project would include research in basic, clinical, or translational medicine, medical education, quality improvement, patient advocacy or bioethics.

The CHEO RI provides grants to trainees for the purpose of completing small-scale studies. Regular training sessions are offered by the CHEO RI staff in all aspects of clinical research including protocol writing, data management or budget planning. These are valuable resources to augment training in clinical, basic or educational research. As well, CHEO RI offers support services from a variety of trained personnel to facilitate the planning and execution of the research.

The Division of Neonatology is actively involved in clinical research in a broad variety of themes such as decision aids and neural networks, neonatal follow-up, neonatal pain management, medical education, ethics and disease-oriented research. The division is supported by several research assistants


Application process

 If you are a Canadian-trained pediatric resident, you must apply through the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS)

If you are a foreign applicant, or do not meet the CaRMS requirements in some way, please apply via the University of Ottawa application system.

Reference letters and personal statements

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 your 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.

Personal letters are written by applicants to introduce themselves to programs and to express their interests. Your personal letter should be well written with appropriate spelling and grammar. It should outline the reasons why you have chosen a particular fellowship-training program. The letter should highlight your accomplishments that make you a strong candidate and why you are interested in Neonatology.