How to Become a Doctor in Canada: Steps & Requirements (2024)
A doctor provides patients with medical care, diagnostics, and counselling. Salaries are considerable, especially when you take into account what a neurosurgeon or another expert makes. To become a doctor, you must fulfil the conditions set forth by your medical school, your province’s or territory’s regulating body, and the Medical Council of Canada. In this article, we outline the steps of become a doctor, the knowledge and abilities required, and the positions that are available.
Becoming a doctor in Canada is a rigorous process that entails meeting the requirements of various governing bodies and undergoing extensive education and training. To embark on this noble profession, you must fulfill the prerequisites of medical school, your province or territory’s regulatory body, and the Medical Council of Canada.
The journey to becoming a doctor encompasses earning a bachelor’s degree, gaining admission to medical school and successfully completing the program, passing the challenging Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination (MCCQE) Part I, undergoing residency training, and ultimately passing the MCCQE Part II to secure a medical license. In addition to the educational and regulatory requirements, essential skills for doctors include emotional intelligence, impeccable time management, exceptional problem-solving abilities, effective communication, organizational aptitude, and proficiency in computer skills. This article will provide valuable insights into the steps necessary to become a doctor and offer tips to enhance your chances of getting into medical school while highlighting various roles within the medical field that aspiring doctors can pursue.
REQUIREMENTS TO BECOME A DOCTOR IN CANADA
Becoming a doctor in Canada requires meeting the requirements set forth by medical school, the regulatory body in your province or territory, and the Medical Council of Canada. These requirements ensure that aspiring doctors have the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to provide quality healthcare to patients.
MEETING THE REQUIREMENTS OF MEDICAL SCHOOL
The first step towards becoming a doctor in Canada is meeting the requirements of medical school. These requirements typically include earning a bachelor’s degree, completing prerequisite courses in subjects like biology and chemistry, and maintaining a strong GPA. Many medical schools also require applicants to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), which assesses their knowledge of basic scientific concepts, critical thinking, and problem-solving abilities.
MEETING THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE REGULATORY BODY IN YOUR PROVINCE OR TERRITORY
In addition to obtaining a medical degree, aspiring doctors in Canada must meet the requirements set by the regulatory body in their province or territory. This usually involves completing a period of supervised practice, known as residency training, after graduating from medical school. Each province or territory has its own specific requirements for residency training, which usually last for a minimum of two years. During this time, doctors-in-training gain practical experience under the supervision of experienced physicians to develop their clinical skills.
MEETING THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE MEDICAL COUNCIL OF CANADA
Finally, aspiring doctors must meet the requirements of the Medical Council of Canada (MCC), the national organization responsible for assessing the qualifications of medical graduates. The MCC administers the Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination (MCCQE), a two-part examination that evaluates the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for medical practice in Canada. The MCCQE Part I is typically taken after completing medical school, while the MCCQE Part II is taken after completing residency training.
STEPS TO BECOMING A DOCTOR IN CANADA
Becoming a doctor in Canada is a multi-step process that requires dedication, hard work, and a commitment to lifelong learning. The following steps outline the journey towards becoming a doctor:
STEP 1: EARNING A BACHELOR’S DEGREE
The first step towards becoming a doctor is earning a bachelor’s degree. While there is no specific undergraduate major required for medical school, it is important to take courses in subjects like biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics to build a strong foundation in the sciences. Maintaining a high GPA and participating in extracurricular activities that demonstrate leadership and community involvement can also strengthen your medical school application.
STEP 2: GETTING INTO MEDICAL SCHOOL
Once you have completed your bachelor’s degree, the next step is getting accepted into medical school. Admission to medical school in Canada is highly competitive, with a limited number of spots available each year. In addition to a strong academic record, medical schools also consider factors like extracurricular involvement, research experience, and letters of recommendation. Some medical schools may also require applicants to attend an interview to assess their interpersonal skills and communication abilities.
Before finishing your undergraduate degree, you can submit an application to one of the 17 approved medical schools in Canada. These institutions often conduct interviews with applicants after reviewing their personal statements, undergraduate transcripts, and MCAT scores. Except for Quebec, all medical schools in the nation require the MCAT exam. It is the only province that emphasizes a candidate’s experience and other application components more than their test score. Candidates can apply even if they don’t take or do well on the test.
A typical medical school program lasts four years from the time you enroll. You study topics associated with medicine in the first two years, such as:
In your final two years, you may pursue the following courses:
- pregnancy care and gynecology
- Family medicine
- Internal medicine
You receive a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) from your medical school once you have successfully completed the program.
STEP 3: GRADUATING FROM MEDICAL SCHOOL
After successfully completing the rigorous curriculum of medical school, you will graduate with a medical degree. This marks a major milestone in your journey towards becoming a doctor. During medical school, you will have gained knowledge and skills in areas such as anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and clinical medicine through a combination of classroom lectures, laboratory work, and clinical rotations.
STEP 4: PASSING THE MEDICAL COUNCIL OF CANADA QUALIFYING EXAMINATION (MCCQE) PART I
After graduating from medical school, you will need to pass the MCCQE Part I to qualify for residency training. This examination assesses your foundational knowledge and understanding of medical concepts, as well as your ability to apply that knowledge to clinical scenarios. It is important to dedicate sufficient time and effort to prepare for this examination, as a passing score is required to progress further in your medical career.
STEP 5: COMPLETING RESIDENCY TRAINING
Residency training is a period of supervised practice where you will gain practical experience in your chosen specialty under the guidance of experienced physicians. The length of residency training varies depending on the specialty, ranging from two to seven years. During this time, you will work in clinical settings, such as hospitals or clinics, and rotate through different departments to expand your clinical knowledge and skills.
STEP 6: PASSING THE MCCQE PART II
Upon completion of residency training, you will need to pass the MCCQE Part II to demonstrate your readiness for independent medical practice. This examination assesses your clinical decision-making abilities, communication skills, and professionalism. It includes both a written and an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) component to evaluate your ability to apply medical knowledge in real-life scenarios.
STEP 7: EARNING A MEDICAL LICENSE
Once you have successfully passed the MCCQE Part II, you will be eligible to apply for a medical license in the province or territory where you wish to practice. Each province or territory has its own licensing requirements, which may include additional examinations, documentation of training, and character references. Obtaining a medical license grants you the legal authority to practice medicine independently and take responsibility for patient care.
HOW MANY YEARS DOES IT TAKE TO BECOME A DOCTOR IN CANADA?
The minimum time required to become a doctor in Canada is around 10 to 12 years after completing high school. However, the actual duration can vary based on factors such as the length of residency training and the time it takes to obtain licenses and certifications. Additionally, some individuals may pursue additional training or fellowships to specialize further in their field, which can extend the timeline.
ESSENTIAL SKILLS FOR DOCTORS
In addition to meeting the educational and regulatory requirements, doctors must also possess a range of essential skills to succeed in their profession. These skills include:
Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and understand emotions in oneself and others, and to effectively manage and use this information to guide behavior and decision-making. It is crucial for doctors to have strong emotional intelligence to build rapport with patients, empathize with their concerns, and provide compassionate care.
Doctors often have demanding schedules and need to juggle multiple responsibilities, such as patient appointments, paperwork, and continuing education. Effective time management skills enable doctors to prioritize tasks, meet deadlines, and maintain a work-life balance.
Doctors are confronted with complex medical cases and diagnostic challenges on a regular basis. Strong problem-solving skills allow doctors to analyze information, identify patterns, and develop appropriate treatment plans for their patients.
Effective communication is essential for doctors to establish rapport with patients, explain medical concepts in a clear and understandable manner, and collaborate with other healthcare professionals. Good communication skills also help doctors to address patient concerns and manage expectations.
Doctors need to keep track of patient records, medical histories, and treatment plans in an organized and systematic manner. Being organized helps doctors to provide continuity of care, prevent medical errors, and maintain accurate documentation.
With the advancement of technology in healthcare, doctors must be proficient in using electronic health record systems, medical software, and other digital tools. Computer skills enable doctors to efficiently access medical information, communicate with colleagues, and stay up-to-date with medical research.
TIPS TO IMPROVE CHANCES OF GETTING INTO MEDICAL SCHOOL
Getting accepted into medical school in Canada is highly competitive, and there are several steps you can take to improve your chances of success. Consider the following tips:
EXCEL IN COURSE OF STUDY
Maintain a strong academic record throughout your undergraduate studies, particularly in science-related courses. Strive for excellence and demonstrate your dedication to learning and intellectual curiosity in your academic pursuits.
CARRY OUT RESEARCH PROJECTS RELATED TO MEDICINE
Engage in research projects that align with your interests in medicine. This will demonstrate your ability to critically analyze scientific literature, contribute to the advancement of medical knowledge, and work effectively in a research team.
GAIN MEDICAL EXPERIENCE
Seek opportunities to gain hands-on medical experience, such as volunteering in hospitals or clinics, shadowing physicians, or participating in medical outreach programs. This will allow you to gain insight into the medical profession, develop an understanding of patient care, and demonstrate your commitment to serving others.
PREPARE EARLY FOR ENTRY EXAMS
Start preparing for the MCAT early to give yourself ample time to review the required material and practice exam questions. Consider enrolling in preparatory courses or using study resources to enhance your chances of success.
CONNECT WITH PEOPLE AND OBTAIN REFERENCE LETTERS
Develop meaningful connections with professors, healthcare professionals, and mentors who can provide strong reference letters that speak to your character, dedication, and potential as a future doctor. Cultivate these relationships throughout your academic journey.
HIGHLIGHT WHAT MAKES YOU UNIQUE IN YOUR APPLICATION
Make your application stand out by highlighting your unique qualities, experiences, and perspectives. Showcase your leadership skills, community involvement, and any adversity you have overcome to demonstrate your resilience and capacity for personal growth.
DIFFERENT ROLES FOR CANADIAN DOCTORS
Once you have obtained your medical license, you can choose to specialize in a specific area of medicine. Here are some of the different roles that doctors can apply for:
FAMILY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN
Family medicine physicians provide comprehensive medical care to individuals of all ages and genders, emphasizing preventive care and the management of chronic conditions. They often serve as the primary point of contact for patients and coordinate their overall healthcare needs.
A family doctor offers medical attention to family members. In the healthcare system, they serve as the initial point of contact. Patients can receive care from family medicine doctors in a hospital, office, home, or other healthcare setting. They are specialists in treating both children and adults as well as identifying a wide range of health conditions. According to Indeed Salaries, a family medicine doctor in Canada makes an average yearly pay of $236,617.
INTERNAL MEDICINE PHYSICIAN
Internal medicine physicians, also known as internists, specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of complex medical conditions affecting adults. They manage diseases like diabetes, hypertension, and autoimmune disorders and often collaborate with other specialists to provide comprehensive care.
Adult patients are diagnosed, treated, and cared for by an internist, a doctor who specializes in internal medicine. Patients with long-term conditions including diabetes, heart disease, or hypertension can receive their care. Internal medicine practitioners could focus on infectious disorders or cardiology, for example. They primarily operate in outpatient and inpatient settings. Internal medicine doctors in Canada get an average yearly pay of $63,310, per Indeed Salaries.
Pediatricians specialize in the care of infants, children, and adolescents. They monitor growth and development, diagnose and treat childhood illnesses, and provide immunizations and preventive care. Pediatricians play a crucial role in supporting the health and well-being of the next generation.
Pediatricians look after kids. They can choose to specialize in neonatology, pediatric cardiology, pediatric surgery, or pediatric hematology. Pediatricians in Canada get an average yearly pay of $199,695 according to Indeed Salaries.
Surgeons are specialized doctors who perform surgical procedures to treat various medical conditions. They may specialize in areas such as orthopedics, neurosurgery, cardiovascular surgery, or general surgery. Surgeons work alongside other healthcare professionals to provide surgical interventions for patients.
Patients undergo surgery. Additionally, they are responsible for diagnosing patients, getting them ready for surgery, and taking care of their medical requirements afterwards. The average yearly pay for a surgeon in Canada is $266,630, according to Indeed Salaries.
OBSTETRICIAN AND GYNECOLOGY PHYSICIAN
Obstetricians and gynecologists (OB/GYNs) specialize in women’s reproductive health, including pregnancy, childbirth, and disorders of the female reproductive system. They offer prenatal care, perform deliveries, and provide medical and surgical treatments for conditions such as endometriosis and cervical cancer.
An expert in the female reproductive system and pregnancy is an obstetrician and gynecologist physician (OB-GYN). They carry out a variety of tasks, including assisting with childbirth and attending to women’s health issues. The average yearly pay for an obstetrics and gynecology physician in Canada is $332,745 according to Indeed Salaries.
Dermatologists specialize in the treatment of skin, hair, and nail disorders. They diagnose and manage conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, and skin cancer. Dermatologists also perform cosmetic procedures and provide advice on skincare and sun protection.
A dermatologist is a medical professional who deals with patients’ skin, hair, and nails. According to Indeed Salaries, a dermatologist in Canada makes an average yearly pay of $293,958.
You’ll be in a better position to decide if this is the right career path for you now that we’ve described how to become a doctor step by step, the skills and certifications you need, and what positions you may apply for. By excelling in academics, gaining medical experience, and highlighting unique qualities, aspiring doctors can improve their chances of getting into medical school. Once licensed, doctors can choose to specialize in various roles such as family medicine physician, internal medicine physician, pediatrician, surgeon, obstetrician and gynecology physician, or dermatologist, to contribute to the healthcare needs of their communities.