With its great standard of living and diversity of job opportunities, Canada has long been a favorite destination for highly-skilled expats such as doctors. Indeed, Canada is very welcoming to those already trained as doctors in their home countries. It is also a great place to train to become a medical doctor, with world-renowned universities offering medical studies and with great research and practice centers.
In order to become a medical doctor in Canada, the easiest and most straightforward process is by studying from medical school level or even before (college level ideally), in the country. This way, your English proficiency will already be great and you’ll be accustomed with the practices and ways of working in the country. You can also, if that’s your preference, immigrate and become a medical doctor in Canada. Here are the best options in either case.
1. English and French requirements to become a doctor in Canada
Being proficient in English is essential for working as a medical doctor in Canada, with the exception of the Quebec region where French is also mandatory. The best way to prove English language proficiency to Canadian hospitals and visa applications is by means of test results. Tests such as the TOEFL are very useful for this, but they only show a basic proficiency level.
In order to be fluent at the level required to work with other doctors and interact with patients, the best way is to study medicine in Canada. As a prerequisite for admission, you must prove you are fluent in English (or French optionally, in Quebec, as per McGill School of Medicine). This of course applies only to students coming from countries where English or French is not the primary language.
2. If possible, study Medicine in Canada
The easiest way to become a doctor in Canada is by obtaining your medical degree in the country. If you wish to study medicine in Canada, the pre-requisites are generally:
- That you are fluent in English or French
- That you have obtained a bachelor’s degree either in Canada or abroad – preferably with a focus on sciences
- If you are not graduating from a university where your major is in sciences, you can still qualify for admission if you have taken a required number of courses in applicable disciplines
- Admission to medical school is very competitive and requires that you have a high GPA
- You will also need to pass the MCAT – Medical College Admission Test with high scores
In Canada, the course of study to become a doctor involves a four-year MD program at a medical school within a university.
3. Testing and Residency Requirements
Whether you’ve graduated from a medical school in Canada or are immigrating after having completed medical studies in a different country, you will need to obtain a medical license in order to practice as a doctor in Canada.
This is done by passing the MCCEE – the Medical Council of Canada Evaluating Examination. It is taken at the end of medical studies and before the residency.
In order to complete a required residency program, you’ll need to have obtained your medical license. You can then apply for residency through the Canadian Residency Matching Service. However, be aware that different provinces in Canada have their own additional eligibility requirements for residents, especially for international students. You might be required to take additional steps to verify your foreign medical degree or agree to practice for a specific amount of time only. You can check specific requirements here, but the most “international friendly” residencies can be found in the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario.
Please note that it is a mandatory requirement to complete a residency once you have graduated from a Canadian medical school.
4. Getting a Canadian medical license
The process for obtaining a medical license is quite straightforward if you have attended medical school in Canada. At the end of your studies, you need to take the MCCEE, the Medical Council of Canada Evaluation Examination. Passing this means you have your medical license and can go on to complete a residency program before you can practice freely.
This is also a requirement for international medical graduates.
International medical graduates need to complete some supervised medical training or assessment to make sure they meet licensure educational requirements, too.
Finally, each Canadian province has autonomy for regulating the practice of medicine on their territory, which means that you may need to adapt depending on where you want to work. You will need to check with your relevant province to ensure you are meeting all the required criteria.
5. Getting a visa to become a doctor
Canadian immigration is possible for doctors trained outside the country as well as for international students who obtain their degree within Canada, from a Canadian university. In case you haven’t graduated in Canada, you just need to ensure that your medical degree is recognized first.
You also need to have the medical license issued by the Medical Council of Canada, and pass a one-year post-graduate program under a medical authority in the province you want to work in to become a doctor in Canada.
After this year, you need to get an official certification from one of the following bodies:
- College of Family Physicians of Canada
- The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
- The College des Médecins du Quebec.
You will then be able to apply for a work visa, during which process your fluency in English will be tested and your work experience will be checked, too.
6. Getting a Job
In order to start your own practice, you first need to have the medical license allowing you to practice as a medical doctor in Canada. Once this is done, you can form a legal entity and register for taxes with the authorities in your province, before you can set up the practice itself.
If you are looking, however, to work in a hospital, you can find jobs through a simple job search on websites like Indeed. Within your medical school, you will also get appropriate advice and guidance as to obtaining a job in Canada, especially as you will be able to see if there are any vacancies at the university hospital you’ve studied at.
7. Procedure for foreign-trained doctors to work in Canada
Foreign trained doctors can practice in Canada as long as their medical degree is recognized and they pass the licensure exam required by the province they wish to work in. This is usually done by applying to the Medical College of Canada Evaluation Examination to take the licensing exam – the MCEE.
International doctors also have to complete a year of supervised medical training and practice before they can be allowed to practice in Canada. Once this is complete, you can register with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Canada, the College of Family Physicians of Canada, or the College des Médecins du Quebec (depending on your specialty and also if you are intending to practice in Quebec). The final step is, of course, obtaining a work visa (as described above) and then you will be able to either open your own practice or work in a hospital as a medical doctor.
I hope that this article on becoming a doctor in Canada was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Medical School Category!