Society of Rural Physicians of Canada - Société de la médecine rurale du Canada
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Licensing International Medical Graduates
Like most western countries, Canada has a formal process required prior to letting someone who is not a citizen practice medicine. The process develops additional confusion when one factors in the fact that licensing of physicians occurs at the provincial level. The process is a necessary tedium and not an Olympian hurdle. This webpage provides an overview of the process. Please note that the SRPC is a volunteer run organization and does not have the resources to help you with placements beyond the information given here.

Many provinces, such as Newfoundland and Manitoba, rely on foreign trained physicians to provide care, and have over a quarter of practicing physicians trained in the UK or South Africa. Such credentials are well known in Canada and will allow you to gain entry under restricted licenses for many regions. This is the case for rural areas in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia.

For other provinces getting a license may be more difficult. Ontario is among those provinces that, practically speaking, will not license international medical graduates, even if they are Canadian citizens, unless they have Canadian post graduate credentials in family practice or specialty (CCFP, FRCS or FRCP). In order to determine your eligibility to practice in a given province contact that provinces licensing authority. Some of the colleges have web addresses:
Using the hypothetical small town Alberta as an example, you should contact the community. If they are interested in you, they can determine if you are eligible to practice medicine in small town by contacting the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) by phone at +1 780 423 4764, by fax at +1 780 420 0651, or by mail at #900, 10180 - 101 Street Edmonton, Alberta T5J 4P8 Canada and sending along a copy of your CV.

A locum there is possible because Small town will likely have "Part 5" status under the Alberta Medical Professions Act, which means the Alberta minister of health has designated Small town as a critically underserviced area, so that IMGs who appear to be well qualified (like those with papers from the United States, South Africa, Britain, Ireland, New Zealand or Australia) can get a restricted license without writing licensing exams.

Once deemed eligible for licensure, the next step is immigration approval. There are 2 steps in this. First the job has to be approved as being an eligible position for a foreigner by Human Resources Canada. The employer (i.e. the clinic, doctor, hospital board or regional health authority that needs the locum) fills out a form. It's a form designed for industry, which asks about what efforts the company has made to find Canadians to fill the job, and why a foreigner is needed, etc. In Alberta, there has been a government sponsored influx of about 70 South African physicians to rural areas, so the Human Resources office in Calgary is very familiar and helpful with the process. They need to know some particulars on the applicant and where they will be applying for a visa. Approval takes about 2 weeks. Human Resources then issues an approval number which allows the foreign doctor to apply for a visa with Immigration.

The visa application process can take a while -- apply a MINIMUM of 2 months ahead of when the visa is needed.

Once you have your visa, you need to make a formal application for license. With those in hand you can register with your provincial Ministry of Health so that you can submit accounts. Allow a couple of weeks for this and you will be shaking hands with the incumbent physician who will be happy to give you his keys!

dditional Examples
A similar situation exists for the other provinces mentioned. For British Columbia check out the previous page and hotlink to the excellent British Columbia Rural Physician Recruitment pages that document (among other things) how this works for IMG's in British Columbia.

Permanent License
Physicians interested in a permanent position in Canada will require full licensure. This will involve, as a minimum, writing The Medical Council of Canada (MCC) licensing exams, and, unless your postgraduate training is "approved and accredited", post graduate training. It is nearly impossible for a foreign trained physician to obtain the additional training required once in Canada, as most post graduate training programs admit only graduates from Canadian medical schools. There are many Canadians who have been trained overseas who have been unable to obtain Canadian post graduate training or a licence.

The paper chase described on this page is subject to constant change by multiple parties involved. The prudent doctor should check with individual sources (provincial licensing body, department of immigration, etc as applicable) to determine the issues that pertain to his or her own application. The SRPC is not a placement agency and we will not answer email on this topic from non-members.
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