Blog 18 – How to Become a Doctor in Canada?
How to become a doctor in Canada? The journey to becoming a doctor is probably one of the longest of any profession. Nevertheless, being a doctor is also highly rewarding with an average annual salary of over 200K and sacred social respect. This blog highlights the key steps for Canadian students to become a doctor. The journey could be different and more demanding for international students or those who are internationally trained.
Step 1: Study for Your Bachelor’s Degree and Prepare for the MCAT Exam
Your journey to becoming a doctor starts in undergrad. Since medical schools in Canada require you to pass the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test), students typically choose many science courses including math, physics, chemistry, and biology to give them a solid foundation for MCAT. These science courses can also help you meet the prerequisites of medical schools.
It doesn’t matter what specific major you select for your Bachelor’s degree. However, keep in mind that your GPA is crucial for the medical school application. Therefore, regardless of what major you choose, do it well!
Step 2: Go to a Medical School
Upon completing your Bachelor’s degree, you need to apply and enter a medical school. There are 17 medical schools in Canada, from the well-known institutions including UBC, the University of Toronto, to regional universities such as Dalhousie University, and the Memorial University of Newfoundland. Most of these schools require you to be a resident of the same province in order to attend.
For the 2019 round, only 2, 640 students obtained offers from Canadian medical schools. They stood out from 14,644 applicants. This means that over 80% of the applicants were rejected, creating a situation that leaves many excellent students to rethink their career paths (How to become a doctor in Canada, 2021).
Medical school lasts four years. Specific curricula vary between medical schools, but you will typically spend the first two years in classrooms and labs, and the last two in clinics. The senior years give your hands-on experience to work directly with patients under the supervision of a licensed physician (How Do I Become a Doctor in Canada?, 2018).
Step 3: Pass the 1st Part of the Licensing Exam
Upon completing your medical school, you must pass a licensing examination to prove your knowledge and competency before you are officially a physician in Canada. The Medical Council of Canada grants the Licentiate of the Medical Council of Canada (LMCC) to graduate physicians who can pass the Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination (MCCQE) Parts I and II.
You are eligible for the MCCQE Part I up to 12 months before your expected date of graduation. Since this exam is the only national standard exam for medical schools across Canada, it is administered at the end of medical school (StackPath, n.d.). The MCCQE part I exam is a one-day, computer-based test that assesses the critical medical knowledge and clinical decision-making ability of a candidate.
Step 4: Meet Residency Requirement
You can apply for residency training from the fall of your last year of medical school through the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS). You choose the area you want to specialize in during your residency training and your preferred healthcare facility (5 steps to become a doctor, n.d.).
The residency requirement may take between 2 and 7 years to complete.
The residency for a family physician, consisting of nearly 40% of the new practitioner population, lasts two years on average. Various specializations can take more than 4 years, depending on the chosen subject.
Step 5: Get Your License
Prior to May 2021, a doctor needs to pass the MCCQE Part II, another exam offered by the Medical Council of Canada (MCC), to be a licentiate. This exam is not required anymore. As long as you have followed the above steps, have at least 12 months of acceptable clinical postgraduate medical training (meaning you don’t need to fully complete your residency to become licensed), and have all required medical credentials verified through the MCC, you will be granted. So, congratulations!
5 steps to become a doctor. (n.d.). Indeed Career Guide. Retrieved April 30, 2022, from https://ca.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/how-to-become-a-doctor
How Do I Become a Doctor in Canada? (2018). Canadaqbank.Com. https://www.canadaqbank.com/blog/2018/06/25/how-do-i-become-a-doctor-in-canada/
How to become a doctor in Canada. (2021, July 14). American University of Antigua. https://www.auamed.org/blog/how-to-become-a-doctor-in-canada/
StackPath. (n.d.). Mcc.Ca. Retrieved April 30, 2022, from https://mcc.ca/examinations/mccqe-part-i/application-information/)