Who are Canadians studying abroad?
Canadians studying abroad (CSAs) are people born in Canada who studied medicine outside of North America at schools not accredited by the Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools (CACMS) and the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). Although CSAs are Canadian citizens, they are still considered international medical graduates (IMGs).
Challenges finding residencies
Training abroad may seem like a good way get a medical degree. However, graduating from medical school only fulfills part of the requirements to practise medicine in Canada. Every Canadian medical doctor must complete a residency in their future area of specialization. This lets future doctors spend hands-on time with patients under the supervision of experienced physicians. Depending on specialty, a residency can last from two to eight years.
Getting residency positions is a complex process that has many obstacles for IMGs, including CSAs. In Canada, the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS) awards all residency positions. Through CaRMS, Canadian medical graduates (CMGs), CSAs and immigrant IMGs all compete for limited residency spots.
The experience is very different for each group. Canadian medical graduates have more opportunities to match to residency positions because they are eligible for all rounds of the CaRMS match.
International medical graduates, including CSAs, are only eligible for the second round of the CaRMS match, which has fewer residency positions available. These positions are often tied to return-of-service agreements in underserviced areas. Unfortunately, the majority of IMGs do not find Canadian residency positions to complete their training.
Make your decision
Check out these resources before deciding to pursue your medical education outside of North America at a school not accredited by the CACMS and LCME:
- Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS) outlines how to get a residency in Canada.
- Association of Facilities of Medicine of Canada has information for Canadians, including CSAs, considering a career in medicine.
- The Doctors Nova Scotia (DNS) CSA motion outlines the association’s position on CSAs.