Medicine Licensing

Overview

Are you thinking about studying medicine? What about getting a medical residency? What are your chances of matching in Canada after your studies?

There is so much information to review! We’ll help you break it down, step by step, so that you are fully aware of what’s required if you choose to study at an Australian medical school. Our goal is to ensure you’re comfortable making such an incredible life-changing decision—even if it means choosing another direction.

As always, please let us know if you have any questions! Contact OzTREKK’s Medicine Admissions Officer at medicine@oztrekk.com or call us toll-free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355.

Canadian Pathway

Just like domestic medicine students, international medical graduates (IMGs) are required to apply for Canadian Residency via the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS). This website provides information about matching, procedures, and statistics and reports on the past matches. According to CARMS, international medical graduates returning to Canada had an overall 29% match rate in 2020. Out of that 29%, Australian medical students had the highest match rate globally of any region at 63% last year.

Why do Australian med school graduates have the best match rates in Canada? Quite simply, Australian medical schools are world-class institutions providing exceptional medical training. Australia and Canada also share similar educational and healthcare systems (including rural and aboriginal health care), which makes the transition easier for Canadian students.

Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Exam 1 (MCCQE1)

This exam is written in May or October.

Before students apply to match via CaRMS (there’s a great video on their homepage that explains the process!), you’ll want to begin looking into the process via the Medical Council of Canada (MCC).

Both CMGs and IMGs need to take the MCCQE1 exam before commencing residency—and IMGs must take this exam before applying for residency.  You’ll begin this process in your final year. There are varying locations where this exam can be completed, including Australia.

National Assessment Collaboration Objective Structured Clinical Examination (NAC OSCE)

The NAC OSCE is a standardized examination that tests the knowledge, skills, and aptitudes essential for entrance into postgraduate training in Canada. It includes problems in medicine, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry, and preventative medicine and public health. This exam will test your clinical skills as you proceed through 12 stations with actors presenting symptoms of various conditions. It is also an examination that only IMGs have to complete.

The NAC OSCE must be completed in Canada and is only run twice per year—in March and September.

Australian Pathway

Studying medicine in Australia gives you the option to stay after graduation to do post-graduate training (residency) without requiring citizenship. Many of our students are choosing this pathway, although it differs slightly from the Canadian pathway.

Once you complete your medical degree, your next step is to apply for a paid internship in Australia (in any state). Your 12-month internship will incorporate the following:

  • at least 8 weeks in Emergency Medicine
  • at least 10 weeks that provides experience in Medicine
  • at least 10 weeks that provides experience in Surgery
  • A range of other approved terms to make up 12 months (47 weeks equivalent)

Unlike applying for residency in Canada, the internship allows students to experience a wide range of medicines before choosing the stream they would like to pursue.

After a year in an internship, and a year as a resident medical officer, you apply for what we know as residency. You can find out more about the Australian pathway on the Australian Medical Association website. The drop-down menu titled “Doctor Life Cycle” is detailed and has an excellent flowchart explaining the process.

Based on statistics from previous years, all international students who have wanted an internship have been successful in receiving one. In fact, there has been spots left vacant in recent years. It is important to keep in mind that as an international student you might need to be flexible on the locations of the internships and residencies. Each state has their own set of guidelines for prioritizing medical graduates for internships. Although your chances of gaining internship are very good, there are no guarantees.

It is important to note that post-graduate medical training in Australia is recognized by both the Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons of Canada (for most specialties) and the Canadian College of Family Physicians (full reciprocity).

US Pathway

This year, the United States has an IMG matching rate of 58% (the highest it has been since 1990). Within this statistic, it does not include US citizens who studied overseas and returned to the States for residency; therefore, students should keep the US pathway open as an option.

United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE)

The American pathway mirrors the Canadian pathway in many ways. To be eligible to apply for residency in the United States, students will need to complete the first two steps of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). This is a three-step examination for medical licensure in the U.S.

Step 1 – In year 2 of medical school, students will write Step 1, which is a science-heavy, computer-based multiple-choice test taken over a full day—essentially what you have learned in the first half of your university degree.

Step 2 – In year 4, students will write Step 2, which consists of two parts: Clinical Knowledge and Clinical Skills. These tests are more focused on what you have learned in the second half of your medical degree.

Clinical Knowledge (CK)

  • Multiple-choice exam taken over a full day. Assesses medical knowledge, skills, clinical sciences
  • Usually completed in fourth year

Clinical Skills (CS)

  • Tests your ability to apply medical knowledge for provision of patient care under supervision
  • Emphasis on disease prevention and health promotion
  • Gather information, provide physical exams, present findings
  • Usually completed in fourth year

Students will apply for Educational Commission For Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) certification, which will allow students to take the final Step 3 of the USMLE (similar to the NAC OSCE), register with the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS), and send their USMLE scores to the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP). The NRMP will then match students and programs to each other, similar to CaRMS. To better understand the process, you can refer to the NRMP video.

Medical Licensing Webinars

Of course, we couldn’t put all the information here, but we hope this helps you get started. In addition to this, OzTREKK hosts several medical pathway webinars for students who have submitted their med school application via OzTREKK. These info sessions provide the latest information regarding the accreditation and medical licensing processes in Canada and the United States, as well as outline options for internships in Australia—an option that a growing number of students choose.

OzTREKK Medical Pathways webinars cover

• how to improve your chances to match;
• how to get an overview of support services;
• recent stats and trends in all the pathways;
• how to complete training in Australia and return to Canada.

As always, you’ll have the opportunity to ask us questions about these topics as we go through them. If you have any specific questions about the medical licensing pathways, please feel free to email our medicine admissions officer at medicine@oztrekk.com.