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Canadians studying abroad

Each year, hopeful Nova Scotians pursue their dreams of becoming doctors by undertaking medical education outside of North America. But before you choose to study abroad, it’s important that you know the facts.

Who are considered Canadians Studying Abroad?

Canadians Studying Abroad (CSAs) are individuals who were born in Canada but pursue their medical education outside of North America, at schools that are not accredited by the Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools (CACMS) and the US Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). Although CSAs are Canadian citizens, they are considered International Medical Graduates (IMGs).

How do you become a Canadian doctor?

On the surface, training abroad may seem like a viable option for those trying to obtain a medical degree. However, graduating from medical school only fulfills part of the requirements needed to practise medicine in Canada. Every Canadian medical doctor is required to complete a residency in their future area of specialization. This allows future doctors to spend more hands-on time with patients while under the supervision of an experienced physician. Depending on speciality, a residency can last from two to eight years.

Challenges facing CSAs

The process for determining residency positions is complex and presents many obstacles for IMGs, including CSAs.

Within Canada, residency positions are awarded through the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS).

Through the CaRMS process, Canadian medical graduates (CMGs), CSAs and immigrant IMGs compete for limited residency spots. The experience is very different for each group.

CMGs have greater opportunities to match to a residency position because they are eligible for all rounds of the CaRMs match. IMGs, including CSAs, are only eligible for the second round of the CaRMS match, which has fewer available residency positions.

Although there are a limited number of residency positions that are reserved for IMGs (including CSAs), there are very few reserved positions, and these positions are usually tied to return-of-service agreements in underserviced areas.

Unfortunately, the majority of IMGs do not find Canadian residency positions to complete their training.

Making your decision

Before deciding to pursue your medical education outside of North America at a school that is not accredited by the Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools (CACMS) and the US Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), there are several resources with which you should familiarize yourself.