The Medical Council of Canada (MCC) plays an important role in the assessment of physicians in Canada. The MCC does not, however, confer licences to physicians (this responsibility belongs to the provincial and territorial medical regulatory authorities).
The Route to Licensure
The Licentiate of the Medical Council of Canada and the Canadian Medical Register
The MCC grants a qualification in medicine known as the Licentiate of the Medical Council of Canada (LMCC) to medical graduates who meet the following criteria:
- They have passed the Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination (MCCQE) Part I and Part II (or an acceptable clinical assessment deemed comparable to the MCCQE Part II such as the new Certification Examination in Family Medicine)
- They have satisfactorily completed at least 12 months of acceptable postgraduate training or an acceptable equivalent
The LMCC is not a licence to practise medicine, the authority to issue such is reserved to the medical regulatory authorities. The LMCC is a part of the Canadian Standard, the set of requirements for awarding a full licence. Upon receiving their LMCC, candidates are also enrolled in the Canadian Medical Register.
The set of academic qualifications that automatically makes an applicant eligible for full licensure in every Canadian province and territory.
Physicians applying for the first time to become licensed to practise medicine in a Canadian jurisdiction may achieve full licensure only if they:
- Have a medical degree [from a medical school that, at the time the candidate completed the program, was listed in the FAIMER’s International Medical Education Directory (IMED) or the WHO’s World Directory of Medical Schools (WDMS) Seventh Edition (2000)], or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from a school in the United States accredited by the American Osteopathic Association Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation; and
- Are a Licentiate of the Medical Council of Canada; and
- Have satisfactorily completed a discipline-appropriate postgraduate training program in allopathic medicine and an evaluation by a recognized authority; and
- Have achieved certification from the College of Family Physicians of Canada or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada or the Collège des médecins du Québec.
Source: Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada
International medical graduates and the Canadian medical system
The Medical Council of Canada defines an international medical graduate (IMG) as:
- an individual who has graduated from a medical school not accredited in Canada or in the US (by the Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools or by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education in the US)
- a graduates of a US school of osteopathic medicine accredited by the American Osteopathic Association
IMGs looking to begin the process of obtaining a licence to practise medicine in Canada are always encouraged to contact the medical regulatory authority in the province or territory in which they would like to practise. They should also contact the international medical graduate program in the province they would like to practise, if such a program exists.
Most health-care organizations refer to physicians who have received their medical education abroad as IMGs.
These physicians can come from a wide range of backgrounds and can: have several years of independent practice experience in his/her country; have just recently completed medical school; have completed a residency training program; have gone directly into practice with no requirement for a residency; be from a country with a medical education system similar to Canada’s; be from a country whose medical education system is very different from Canada’s.
Important considerations before starting the licensure process
Overview of the process of obtaining a licence to practise medicine for IMGs
International medical graduates (IMGs) looking to begin the process of obtaining a licence to practise medicine in Canada are always encouraged to contact the medical regulatory authority in the province or territory in which they would like to practise. They should also contact the international medical graduate program in that province, if such a program exists.
There are general steps that IMGs should take before arriving in Canada, and steps they should take after their arrival
Steps IMGs can take before arriving in Canada
You can start the licensure process from outside Canada by:
Visit the International Medical Education Directory (IMED), part of the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research‘s (FAIMER) website. Your medical school, the name of the medical degree and the year of your graduation must be listed on the FAIMER International Medical Education Directory to be accepted in Canada.
IMGs can test their readiness for the Medical Council of Canada Evaluating Examination (MCCEE) through the Medical Council of Canada Self Administered Evaluating Examination (SAE – EE). IMGs who take the SAE – EE will receive the number of questions correctly answered as well as a percentile table that compares their performance to the results achieved by other MCCEE candidates.
IMGs can use the MCC Physician Credentials Repository to establish a confidential professional electronic portfolio of their credentials prior to arriving in Canada. IMGs can share their portfolio with provincial/territorial medical regulatory authorities, certifying and qualifying bodies. The MCC requires that IMGs who are applying for the first time to the MCCEE send a copy of their final medical diploma to the MCC Physician Credentials Repository. The diploma must be successfully source verified through the Repository for the candidate to be eligible to the Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination (MCCQE) Part II.
Fees: To access Repository services, IMGs must open a physiciansapply.ca account. A one-time account fee is involved with the creation of an account. Additional document fees are also charged for each medical document submitted for source verification.
If IMGs have obtained Canadian or American board specialty certification, they may apply to the MCC for an exemption from the MCCEE.
Note: The MCC requires all first-time MCCEE candidates to open a physiciansapply.ca account and send a student attestation or a copy of their medical diploma to the MCC Physician Credentials Repository for source verification.
Steps IMGs should take after their arrival
All provinces have the right to request additional assessments to qualify for residency positions in their province. These assessments may include the National Assessment Collaboration (NAC) examination, which is only administered in Canada. Candidates must take the MCCEE before being eligible to take the NAC examination, and certain jurisdictions may add region-specific eligibility criteria for certain provincially funded training positions.
IMGs may be required to pass the Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination (MCCQE) Part I and Part II (additional fees apply). Candidates may also take a self-assessment exam to help prepare for the multiple-choice component of the MCCQE Part I. This self-assessment is offered over the Internet and can be completed before arriving in Canada. The MCCQE Part I and the MCCQE Part II
are administered in Canada and are also required for graduates from Canadian faculties of medicine. All jurisdictions also require a minimum of two years of postgraduate training for licensure. When IMGs pass the MCCQE Part II, they are awarded the Licentiate of the Medical Council of Canada. The Licentiate is required for candidates to meet the Canadian Standard for full licensure, as defined through the Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada.
IMGs who are seeking a provisional licence to enter independent practice can also consider going through a practice-ready assessment (PRA) program. PRA is a one of several routes available in several provinces to internationally-trained physicians interested in joining Canada’s medical profession. For further information regarding this route to licensure, contact the provincial international medical graduate programs.
IMGs who are considering practising or completing their medical training in Canada should be aware of the requirements for medical liability protection in Canada. For more information, please contact the Canadian Medical Protective Association.