Canadian medicine is well-off. Indeed, in the 2017 economist Business Unit’s 2017 report on global access to health care, Canada ranks among the top 6 countries for quality of care, ahead of Italy, Japan and the United States. The country is the first to treat noncommunicable diseases.
To continue with some statistics, Canada had in 2019:
- From 91,375 physicians according to figures from the Canadian Institute for Health Information
- 241 doctors per 100,000 inhabitants, making it the third country in the world in terms of general practitioners per capita according to the OECD
- Doctors earned an average of $244,000, or more than $13,000 per month. Annual compensation is even higher for specialists with an average of $429,000.
Despite a high number of physicists and more and more medical graduate students, Canada is facing a shortage of general practitioners that is likely to worsen in the years to come.
If you’ve always dreamed of being a doctor and Canada is a destination that attracts you, here’s our guide to studying medicine in Canada!
What are the institutions for a medical course in Canada?
There are 17 medical schools in Canada. However, they do not accept all international students.
The medical schools are attached to the various universities in the country that are under the yoke of the provinces. In particular, the provincial government determines the number of places available for new students based on its educational and financial resources as well as future needs for health professionals.
Namely, governments are giving more places to students from their provinces.
List of the various institutions to study medicine in Canada and registration fees in 2019:
|University||Language||Fresh (Canadians)||Fees (International)|
|Newfoundland||English||$ 10,250||$ 30,000 (€ 20,350)|
|Dalhousie||English||$ 21,400||$ 75,000 (€ 50,800)|
|Laval||French||$ 12,550||$ 33,800 (€ 22,900)|
|Sherbrooke||French||$ 12,200||$ 28,600 (€ 19,400)|
|Montreal||French||$ 11,100||$ 27,500 (€ 18,600)|
|Mcgill||French and English||$ 16,600||$ 42,400 (€ 28,600)|
|Ottawa||French and English||$ 29,400|
|Queen’s||English||$ 22,600||$ 84,100 (€ 57,000)|
|Toronto||English||$ 23,000||$ 84,900 (€ 57,600)|
|McMaster||English||$ 28,800||$ 95,000 (€ 64,400)|
|Lakehead and Laurentian||English||$ 23,200|
|Calgary||English||$ 15,000||$ 137,800 (€ 93,500)|
|British Columbia||English||$ 18,400|
Don’t hesitate to check the portals of Canadian universities to see how university fees change each year.
How does a medical program go in Canada?
2 years of previous graduate education required
To join a Canadian medical school, you must have completed at least 2 years of graduate studies in a scientific field. This requirement may vary from university to university and it is essential to consult each portal. Some institutions even apply for a Bachelor’s degree (4 years) in order to apply.
This part of the studies can be done abroad. There is a system of equivalence that determines whether your degree can allow you to enter a medical school.
A numerus clausus in place that limits access to training
However, the number of places for international medical students is very limited and some agreements are quite disadvantageous: in some institutions the student can take the % courses but must leave the country as soon as he passes by residence.
It can therefore be strategic to complete the first part of your studies in Canada with a study permit and then work for a year through the extension of that permit, while applying for permanent resident status. This status gives you the same rights as Canadians and gives you access to the places reserved for them.
A course lasting 4 to 6 years
Once admitted to a medical school, the training lasts 3 to 5 years with a possible first year of refresher since the students come from different backgrounds. It ends with one year of internship: residency.
To obtain a resident position, you must apply to the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS).
Unfortunately, every year, many students do not have a position and have to go to another country in order to finish their studies or wait until the following year. In 2019, there were more than 1,000 in this case.
What are the requirements to join medical training in Canada?
What is the selectivity rate of Canadian medical training?
The chances of passing the second year of medicine in France are between 11% and 26% depending on the universities. When is it from Canada? It turns out that the results are more or less similar, but a little more complex.
There is a differentiation between three categories: students from the province of the university, students outside the province, and international students.
In 2019, according to a study by the consulting agency Shemassian, the admission rate ranges between 6% and 29% for Canadian students, while international students range from 0% (no admission) to 16.7% (thanks to Dalhousie University which stands out).
The average admission rate for internationals is around 5%, far enough away from your chances if you stay in French higher education. But with selection methods and curriculum taking place in a different way, you may have more chances in Canada than in France if your profile is suitable.
What are the criteria for joining a medical training course?
Before joining a medical school, you must have validated 2 years or more of higher education.
Then you will have to pass some tests depending on the institution you are targeting:
- Lexical College Admission Test (MCAT): a common examination in Canada and the United States to integrate medical training.
- Excellent academic performance: institutions will analyze your file and expect excellent academic results demonstrating your abilities.
- CASPer: assesses the personal attributes of candidates through situations.
- Language test if the training is in English and your initial training in 2 years was not taught in English. Be careful only the results of the current year are taken into account, so you will have to retake a test if your results are older. The accepted language tests are: TOEFL and TWE, MELAB, COPE or IELTS Academic.
- A letter of recommendation to one of your professors or former employers to highlight your profile and complete your application file.
Motivational interview in front of a jury
Once your file has been pre-selected by an institution, you will be invited to undergo a motivational interview using one of two methods:
- Either face a committee evaluating your profile through their own criteria
- Either face a multiple exam process or you will face one person at a time several times, each asking you a specific question and noting your answer according to its criteria.
Please refer to the summary provided by the Association of Canadian Medical Schools (AFMC) for more information on each institution’s requirements and eligibility threshold notes.
The best universities to study medicine in Canada
Each year, several national organizations rank Canadian institutions to highlight the best training. For an overview of the best medical schools in Canada, it is advisable to consult the annual Macleans ranking.
University Rankings Maclean’s: The 2021 annual ranking of medical courses provides an excellent overview of the best institutions in terms of student satisfaction, but also of the institution’s budget for research and scholarships.
The ranking is relatively stable from year to year, and the following top 7 is found:
- McGill University
- Toronto University
- University of British Columbia
- McMaster’s University
- Queen’s University
- Alberta Univesity
- Dalhousie University
In order to ensure admission to an institution, it is advisable to apply to institutions of all levels, not just the highest ranked ones!
Medical registration formalities in Canada
Enrolling in medical training in Canada is a complex process. Based on this observation, the Association of Medical Schools of Canada (OR AFMC) has produced an extremely detailed guide in French and updated annually in their “Admission Conditions” section.
We offer a summary of the steps.
When to start the process of enrolling in medicine?
It is advisable to start and find out in detail about the steps at least 15 months before the scheduled start date.
This may sound like a lot, but the first key dates for enrollment in Canada come as early as September of the previous year in medicine. Add to that the passage of the MCAT and a language exam before filing your file, and about fifteen months will not be too much.
The medical registration process in Canada:
According to universities and provinces, the registration process is different.
1. For Ontario’s 6 medical universities, you must go through the WHOAS portal by September 15 of the year N-1! This is a registration on the platform, not a complete handover of the file. Key dates are then clearly communicated on the platform.
2. For the remaining 12 universities, it is advisable to turn to their page dedicated to the application process. You will find all the necessary information in the space dedicated to registering for medical training at McGill, University of Toronto, or University of British Columbia.
How to file a complete file as soon as September N-1?
The majority of universities close their registrations by November 1. Of course, you have every chance of having an “incomplete” file if you have not completed your previous training.
This is fully taken into account by the universities who will provide you with several additional dates to update and file the most complete file possible before the final evaluation. It is possible, however, that pre-selections may take place in the meantime.
In the end, we advise you to file as complete a file as possible as soon as you have the opportunity.
The cost of medical schooling in Canada
What are the medical registration fees?
The fees for registering for medical training are specific to each institution and vary according to the student’s origin.
As a foreign student, you can expect at least 16,000 euros for the first year of medicine. Fees can soar up to more than 90,000 euros per year, depending on the establishment.
Are there financing solutions?
If the cost of medical school in Canada is very high, there are government scholarships for international students based on the specialty chosen.
Finally, keep in mind that permanent residents pay the same tuition fees as Canadian or Quebec students, which can significantly lower the bill if you manage to obtain the famous status.
Added to this are the costs associated with daily living on site: rent, food, transport and outings. While these figures may seem astronomical, remember that Canada’s education system is one of the most recognized in the world for the quality of its teaching.
So your medical degree will open up great career opportunities in Canada and around the world, as well as salaries of hundreds of thousands of Canadian dollars. Even if you take out a loan for your studies, it will quickly be profitable.