To work as a medical doctor in Canada, you require a bachelor’s degree, and graduation from an approved medical school, along with two to three years of family medicine residency training. You must also complete the Medical Council of Canada qualifying exams.
Most healthcare organizations in Canada refer to physicians who have received their medical education outside of Canada and the United States, as international medical graduates (IMGs).
Because Canada is facing a labour shortage of medical doctors, continuing your career in Canada may hold great interest to you. If you’re an IMG, learn about job requirements for doctors in Canada, credentials assessment, job search techniques, and more.
Before You Move to Canada
It’s vital to research the medical profession and requirements before you come to Canada. It can be time-consuming, and expensive to become a licensed medical doctor, so it’s essential to know what to expect.
There are steps that you can take before you immigrate to improve your chances of practicing your profession in Canada.
- Attend the webinar What to Know About the Canadian Job Market.
- Confirm that your medical degree is from a recognized medical school at the FAIMER International Medical Education Directory (IMED). Your medical school and qualification must be listed on the directory to be accepted in Canada.
- Contact the medical regulatory association in the province where you’ll settle in Canada to learn about:
- Procedures you must follow, and the cost and time required to obtain a physician’s permit
- Steps you can take to become licensed before and after you immigrate to Canada
- Programs for International medical graduates.
- Start the licensure process while still in your home country by following these steps:
- Confirm that your medical degree is from a recognized medical school
- Take an online self-assessment exam
- Submit your credentials to the Medical Council of Canada’s Physician Credentials Repository
- Take the Medical Council of Canada Evaluating Exam.
- Assess your language skills by taking an online self-assessment on the Canadian Language Benchmarks website.
- Improve your language skills and enroll in language classes in your home country and continue them after you move to Canada. You’ll need to prove your English or French (depending on your destination province) language competency or be tested.
- Gather and organize your official education, work and identity documents while still in your home country.
- Check with your provincial or territorial regulatory body to find out what documents you need to bring and verify if they need to be translated. You might need to use a professional translation service in Canada.
- Understand how the medical profession is practiced in Canada and familiarize yourself with provincial laws and legislation where you’ll settle.
- Know the name of your job in Canada (for example family physician, general practice resident, general practitioner, medical doctor).
1. Understanding Medical Doctor Job Requirements
Medical doctors belong to a regulated profession in Canada, so you must also be licensed by the provincial or territorial licensing authority (see links in Section 5) in the province where you plan to settle. With a license, a medical doctor can work in private practice, including group or team practices, hospitals and clinics.
Researching Job Requirements for Medical Doctors in Canada
For those with international medical qualifications, it’s vital to understand what’s required to work in Canada as well as the labour market.
Using the NOC: 31102
A good place to start your research is by using the National Occupational Classification (NOC) 31102 (NOC 2021 Version 1.0) for medical doctors. The NOC provides a standard definition of the role of general practitioners and family physicians. Here you can get a sense of the role, example titles, main duties, and job requirements.
2. Employment for Medical Doctors in Canada
Another valuable resource to research is the Government of Canada’s Job Bank. Here you’ll discover information related to wages, job prospects, and requirements.
By researching the job prospects, you can find labour market conditions for 2019-2028 that show Canada is experiencing a labour shortage for medical doctors. This is good news for medical doctors with international qualifications. But, you will still need to meet specific requirements.
Credential Recognition in Canada
Regardless of your education or experience, you need to have a license to practice as a medical doctor in Canada.
One of the first things you need to do is to learn about the specific requirements to work as a medical doctor in Canada. To do this, you can contact the provincial or territorial regulatory body where you plan to settle. They can advise you about the documents that you require, licensing fees, and more. It’s a good idea to take this step before you arrive in Canada and accordingly decide your departure date to Canada.
Depending on the province you intend to settle in, your licensing process may include:
- Exams (eligibility, program selection, qualifying, certification)
- Language proficiency tests
- Postgraduate training/assessment
- Return-of-service agreements (commitment to practice in an underserved community for an agreed period of time).
When you know the licensure procedure and understand what the regulatory body expects, you can carefully complete your application. The licensure process has many stages and can seem complicated, you’ll also require significant financial and personal commitment to pursue the process.
Some immigrant-serving organizations offer study groups for the Medical Council of Canada (MCC) Evaluating Exam (MCC EE), Qualifying Examination Part I, and Qualifying Examination Part II. These study groups aim to facilitate focused learning and provide a learning environment to explore, discuss, and model Canadian medical content with practising Canadian physician educators and senior residents.
Credentials Assessment Services
If you plan to enrol in a college or university program to upgrade your skills, contact the school to find out the steps you should take and the credential assessment agency you should use.
To find more organizations and agencies providing credential evaluation, assessment and qualification recognition services click here.
Best Locations for Medical Doctors in Canada
Medical doctors have different job prospects depending on where they work in Canada. So, it’s helpful to research job prospects across Canada. According to the Canadian Occupation Projections Systems, labour shortage conditions will persist from 2019 – 2028. And as Canada’s population ages, there will be greater demand for health services. In fact, employment growth for medical doctors is projected to be the second highest of all occupation groups.
To research job prospects by province, click here. From here, you can also search job prospects by region within the province. Once you identify which locations offer job prospects, you can begin to research cities and determine what cities would meet your personal, professional, and practical needs. For example, cities in the province of Alberta that have a good outlook for medical doctors include Calgary, Edmonton, and Lethbridge. Cities across Canada with a good outlook include Fredericton, New Brunswick, Windsor, Ottawa, and Hamilton in Ontario.
Medical doctors usually work in private practice, including group or team practices, hospitals and clinics.
You can visit Canada’s Best Diversity Employers website to locate hospitals and healthcare centres that you might be interested in. The Best Diversity Employers receive this special designation for their commitment to workplace diversity, inclusion, and equity.
Medical doctors in Canada can earn between $83,379.37and $414,389.70/year depending on their level of experience and location. Get more information about wages.
3. Upgrading Your Skills to Meet Medical Doctor Job Requirements
In addition to becoming accredited, another activity to become a medical doctor in Canada is to upgrade your skills through a bridging program or other courses and workshops.
As a physician, you must continually update your knowledge and skills on new medical procedures and practices. You can benefit from ongoing learning and professional growth through continuing education courses and seminars.
Skills Upgrading for Medical Doctors
You may have strong technical skills, but often that is not enough to get a job or maintain it afterward. As a medical doctor, you are expected to know how to handle patients with strong listening, interpersonal, and communication skills, and empathize with them to understand their illness clearly. You must also know how to deal with the patient’s relatives with patience.
Having strong skills in one or both of Canada’s official languages – English or French – is important for your future in Canada. Whether you choose to learn or improve your English or French will depend on which of the two languages most people speak in the area where you intend to live.
You may be eligible for Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program. Otherwise, you can find other free or affordable English as a Second Language (ESL) or French as a Second Language (FSL) classes offered through school boards or settlement agencies. There are even language courses to teach you professional terminology, such as job-specific language training and Occupation Specific Language Training (OSLT) in Ontario. And, if you already speak one of Canada’s two official languages at a high level, learning the other may be helpful, as it may offer you better employment options.
If you intend to be self-employed you may require advanced business skills as well as financial resources to establish and maintain the medical practice.
The Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC) maintains a list of medical schools in Canada.
Bridging programs are a good way to transition your international experience and training to the Canadian workplace. Many colleges, universities, and immigrant-serving agencies offer bridging programs or workshops that you may be eligible for. Explore the following medical bridging programs to see if any may be suitable for you.
University of British Columbia
This program is designed to assess IMG applicants, and prepare them for application to UBC Faculty of Medicine Residency Training programs, which are available to IMGs in the first iteration of the Canadian Residency Matching Service (CaRMS).
University of Manitoba
This one-year training program helps foreign-trained physicians obtain medical licensure to practice as primary care physicians in Manitoba.
Immigrant Settlement & Integration Services
This program offers informational, learning, and other types of support, services, and resources to support entry into the Canadian healthcare system for IMGs.
The IMG Clerkship Program will prepare IMGs for residency training. Upon completion of the program, participants will be eligible to enter the first round of the CaRMS match as Dalhousie graduates.
Catholic Centre for Immigrants
This program helps internationally educated health professionals connect with employers and community partners. The program includes workshops on transferable skills and healthcare sector orientation. It also provides occupation-specific language education, workplace culture and communications training, and employment opportunities.
Catholic Centre for Immigrants (CCI Ottawa)
This program provides training in medical communication, healthcare culture, familiarity with Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) and exposure to Canadian medical practice through Observership. This focused training broadens knowledge of Canadian medical practice and improves the success rate of IMDs as they pursue medical exams and residency.
College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO)
This project is developing a website that illustrates the Considerations of Legal, Ethical and Organization (CLEO) aspects of the practice of medicine, which are a component of the Medical Council of Canada’s (MCC) evaluating exam. The project provides web-based medical literacy and educational tools to address the communication needs of IMGs who apply to one of Ontario’s programs for entry to medical practice.
4. Job Search Techniques for Medical Doctors
The Canadian job market is competitive, so you need to prepare and understand how to gain employment.
The licensure process for the medical profession is long and you have to negotiate a complicated and costly series of evaluation and licensing examinations. To support yourself during this period, you may need to work temporary jobs in alternative fields. You must look for jobs in the region where you will be registered. Therefore, take your time to research job requirements in that region and develop a plan to find work.
There are many ways to search for jobs including:
- Broadening your search and including alternative careers.
- Seeking a mentor in the medical field who would give you valuable insight and advice and probably introduce you to their professional network.
- Joining healthcare job-finding or networking clubs through immigrant-serving agencies.
- Attending medical or healthcare job fairs and regularly checking online job boards.
Immigrant Settlement Agencies
Finding a job in Canada may be different than in your home country and you may need help with your job search. Most settlement agencies and other immigrant-serving organizations offer help with:
- Finding job vacancies
- Updating your resume
- Writing cover letters
- Preparing for interviews, and
- Understanding what Canadian employers are looking for.
To find immigrant services in your area click here.
Resume Writing for Medical Doctors
A medical resume is not that different from a standard one, but like all resumes for high-level positions, small errors stand out. A sound resume acquaints your prospective employer with your expertise and achievements in the medical field, as well as your language skills.
Like many medical professionals, you may decide to use a professional resume writer to stand out from the crowd. Regardless, it pays to understand what makes a quality resume no matter who writes it.
Resume Writing Tips
Here are tips to make your resume cleaner, easier to read, and more likely to get you interviews.
- List your medical degree following your name as in – NAME SURNAME, M.D., to impress your qualification on the prospective employer right from the beginning.
- Give details about your medical licensure and certification. Specify the date (month, year) you received your license. List your certifications in your specialty; use bullet points.
- List any academic scholarships, honours bestowed by prestigious medical associations or any academic accomplishments.
- Identify the institutions where you completed your fellowships, residencies and internship.
- Highlight, don’t elaborate. For example, if you are a physician with an extensive research background in your respective field, naturally you’d like to explain each study. After all, you invested a significant amount of time researching. Fight this instinct. A resume is designed to highlight professional experience, not to explain it in detail.
- If you had private practice earlier, mention it along with the location and duration of the practice. Include details about any academic positions you held.
- List your memberships or affiliations to any medical boards or societies.
Interview Techniques for Medical Doctors
As a medical doctor, you must have a great desire to become a doctor, as it is a challenging and demanding career. You must also have a passion to help people, to learn new methodologies, to sacrifice your time and energy for the health care of the patients.
This job requires you to have great intelligence, integrity, competence and social skills, and so much more. So be prepared for a thorough and exhaustive interview.
Here are a few questions you may be asked during your job interview:
- Why did you choose this career? Why did you choose this specialty?
- Your professional experience: Tell us about your background as a doctor: education and experience. What are your specialties/ expertise?
- Why are you interested in this hospital/department?
- How do you handle workload stress and emergency situations?
- Describe your day-to-day activities, priorities and tasks.
- Describe your most successful accomplishments.
- What are the key challenges of this (field of medicine)? What are your personal challenges?
When responding to these and other questions you may be asked, review your career, starting with your education. Consult with colleagues and friends, and prepare answers for the questions above. Rehearse them, and incorporate all applicable feedback. Do not memorize your responses, but be very familiar with them. Be succinct in your replies, and emphasize your good qualities, without arrogance. “Wrap” any negative comments with positive remarks.
While there’s a shortage of physicians in Canada, landing that next opportunity – especially for newcomers like you – requires extra effort and outreach.
Informational interviews are a great way to demonstrate your empathetic and professional communication abilities, research skills and time management talents.
An informational interview is a brief (20–30-minute) meeting that you schedule with a person who is currently working in an industry to learn more about that particular industry.
You should not try to get a job during an informational interview but rather find out whether or not a particular position or industry might be a good fit for your interests and your personality. An informational interview with a contact from your network can be an excellent source of career information because, in addition to basic information about a particular type of industry (such as you might find on a company website), it also offers you the benefit of a professional’s first-hand experiences and impressions.
- Make a list of the hospitals, clinics, public health agencies, and others, as desired, that operate in your area.
- Use your resources including professional organizations, LinkedIn, and other networking tools to identify organization insiders, such as pharmaceutical recruiters, health unit coordinators, etc.
- Create 5-10 open-ended questions that will yield useful information to help your job search.
For more information on informational interviews, click here.
Networking is Important for Medical Doctors
Networking is a vital activity to help you find job leads, gain professional advice and guidance, and meet others to expand your network. In Canada, many job vacancies are not advertised. Also known as the “hidden” job market, you can discover these jobs through networking with other medical professionals. So, it’s helpful to make connections and build relationships with others in your field who can help you discover these jobs. Good places to network include conferences, associations, and other settings.
LinkedIn is another vital tool for networking. Using LinkedIn, you can connect with former colleagues and employers, search for jobs, and get introductions to others in the medical community. You can also join some relevant groups to learn more about the medical profession in Canada.
But remember, that you have to allow time to cultivate and grow the ties you establish through networking. Nothing will happen overnight and you need to be patient.
5. Medical Doctor Associations in Canada
The following medical associations provide information about licensure and certification. They also provide ongoing professional development, education, and networking opportunities.
Provincial/Territorial regulatory bodies
Newfoundland and Labrador
Prince Edward Island
Immigrant Networks for Medical Doctors in Canada
Professional immigrant networks are organized volunteer-run member-based associations or networks. They are created by and for immigrant professionals that seek to:
- Create a forum to contribute to and enrich their respective communities
- Provide opportunities for members to find employment and achieve their professional goals.
Activities of these networks include networking events, mentoring, information sessions, professional development opportunities such as workshops, speaker events, and training and connections to employment opportunities.
This non-profit organization consists of doctors trained or educated in countries other than Canada. It also includes individuals and organizations interested in the challenges facing International Medical Graduates (IMGs) in Canada.
isans helps newcomer professionals with their full economic and social integration in the province of Nova Scotia.
This association is an independent professional non-profit that represents physicians and surgeons trained and licensed in jurisdictions outside Canada.
This network allows IMGs to project a high level of professional support and connect colleagues to the various aspects of Canadian society.
This network is a support group for immigrant Filipino doctors. It provides support to prepare for medical licensure and job search assistance.
For more information about working and living in Canada, visit our Finding a Job in Canada page. We’ll help you to achieve your goals in Canada!