Becoming a Doctor in Canada

Canadian Schools offering Medical Degrees

There are plenty of opportunities in Canada and around the world for highly-trained doctors. This trend is likely to continue as the Canadian population steadily ages. At the same time, people are also living longer due to the advancement of medical science.

Being a doctor requires the following things in order to succeed.

  • A desire to learn
  • Patience
  • Skill
  • Long lasting commitment to help patients improve their health and well-being

Individuals must also have the desire and drive to constantly communicate with their patients. They should also be willing to expand their expertise if given the opportunity. Doctors play a very important role in the health care system. Because of this, a lot of people have come to rely on their skill and experience to help them with their ailments. Even though it is a very stressful job, it is also very rewarding. This feeling comes from a deep satisfaction in helping people from different backgrounds.


Medical schools require students to have an undergraduate degree. These degrees must encompass subjects such as chemistry, biology, organic chemistry and physics.

Many universities also require the following courses.

  • English or French
  • Math
  • Statistics
  • Humanities
  • Social Science
  • Biochemistry

This means students do not have to be a biology or chemistry major in order to be admitted to medical school. They just need to have taken the required prerequisite courses. Some Canadian universities do not specify any particular prerequisite courses. However, it is a good idea to take the majority of the subjects listed above.

The Medical College Admission Test  : The MCAT

A majority of Canadian universities also use Medical College Admission Test scores to evaluate applicants. These exams are conducted at different times of the year. Passing scores also vary from school to school. Usually, a B+ is the minimum passing grade in order to have a chance of getting into medical school. Schools calculate applicants’ GPA based on the following.

  • Overall program of studies
  • Last two years of schooling
  • Grades in some prerequisite subjects

Once again, criteria varies from university to university. Additionally, not all universities require the Medical College Admission Test. This is the reason why applicants must verify their school’s admission requirements. As part of the application process, some schools also conduct entrance interviews. These interviews are usually held in the early part of the school year.


There are 17 medical schools across Canada. The majority of them also have residency requirements. This means they will prioritize applicants from their province. Some schools also accept out-of-province applicants. However, the number of these applicants accepted is limited, and entrance prerequisites may be higher. It is always a good move to plan ahead and decide what schools to apply to. At the same time, it is also good to know what the requirements are.

Medical School Accreditation

In order to be accredited, schools must meet the standards required by these organizations

These organizations are responsible for the accreditation of medical schools across Canada. This is done by enforcing accreditation rules and surveys on the status of every Canadian medical school. At the same time, they monitor school-based continuing medical education. Aside from these two organizations, the Committee on Medical Education (http://www.lcme.org/) also accredits Canadian medical schools. This committee is jointly administered by the American Medical Association and the Association of American Medical Colleges.


A four-year program is implemented at most medical schools in Canada. Notable exceptions include the University of Calgary and McMaster University. These universities offer programs that run for three years without interruption. The first two years are pre-clinical. This means students take subjects related to medicine that include the following.

  • Pharmacology
  • Ethics
  • Physiology
  • Microbiology
  • Physiology
  • Anatomy

These subjects could be taught by organ system or by discipline. There are several methods used to teach these subjects.

  • Traditional lectures
  • Laboratory sessions
  • Limited clinical experiences
  • Simulated patient sessions
  • Problem-based learning

The third and fourth year of medical school is spent in clerkship. Students have the chance to learn about different medical fields and core medical specialties. Students also participate in the management of patients on a day-to-day basis. They are supervised and taught by fully licensed staff physicians and residents during this clinical experience. There are several rotations offered by medical schools across Canada.

  • Surgery
  • Psychiatry
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Family Medicine
  • Paediatrics
  • Internal Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Post Graduate Medical Education

Students graduate with an M.D. They should also take the licensure examinations conducted by the Medical Council of Canada to become fully licensed. Students also join the Canadian Resident Matching Service in their final year. Students rank their specialty and hospital preferences. These programs also rank applicants confidentially. A post graduate training program period varies depending on the specialty chosen. Family medicine is a two year program. This program is also accredited and approved by the College of Family Physicians of Canada. There are several specialties that have a three year residency training period.

  • Maternal and Child Medicine
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Care of the Elderly
  • Sports Medicine or Palliative Care

Paediatrics and internal medicine are four year programs. The final year can be utilized to obtain a fellowship in general paediatrics and general medicine. It can also be used to obtain a longer fellowship such as cardiology. Surgical residencies could last six years. These include the following.

  • General Surgery
  • Neurosurgery
  • Cardiac Surgery
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