BC’s biggest barrier to Canadians studying abroad

There were an estimated 3750 Canadians studying medicine abroad in 2010, and over 90% of these students intended to return to Canada for postgraduate medical training.[1] Unfortunately, in BC, only 24 of the upcoming match’s 279 residency positions are dedicated to international medical graduates (IMGs).[2

These IMG BC positions are offered only to BC residents and all of them include return-of-service contracts in geographical locations of need. In comparison, there are 201 dedicated IMG positions in Ontario, all without provincial residency res­trictions. 

To be eligible to complete postgraduate education in Canada, IMGs must pass the Medical Council of Ca­nada Evaluating Examination. Canadians studying abroad can complete this multiple-choice exam in their final year of medical school (at a cost of $1615) in preparation for the residency match. 

In BC, however, applicants are additionally required to un­dertake an IMG BC assessment and submit a passing National Assessment Collaboration Objective Structured Clinical Examination (NAC OSCE) result. The Objective Structured Clinical Examination costs $800 and there are only 70 seats offered in BC, but the biggest barrier is timing.

The problem is that most BC residents in their final year of medical school abroad cannot complete the IMG BC assessment and NAC OSCE in time for the residency match. The BC IMG assessment and NAC OSCE are simply held too late in the year. A passing Medical Council of Canada Evaluating Examination result is also currently required to apply for the BC IMG assessment and NAC OSCE, further delaying the process.

Instead of applying to the dedicated IMG BC positions in their home province, these students are forced to find training positions elsewhere in Canada or abroad. They can also scramble for a handful of vacancies in BC in the second iteration of the match, or simply take a year out after graduation and then, once eligible, apply to the IMG BC positions. 

Urgent changes are required to the IMG BC assessment and NAC OSCE to make BC residents in their final year of medical school abroad eligible to concurrently apply to the existing IMG BC residency positions.
—Robert Obara, BSc, MPH
Dublin, Ireland


1. Canadian Resident Matching Service. Canadian Students Studying Medicine Abroad 2010 Report. Accessed 1 Dec­ember 2011. www.carms.ca/pdfs/2010_
2. Canadian Resident Matching Service. Quota overview for all universities in R-1 match main residency match—first iteration 2011. Accessed 1 December 2011. https://w1c.e-carms.ca/pdws/jsp/

Robert Obara, BSc, MPH,. BC’s biggest barrier to Canadians studying abroad. BCMJ, Vol. 54, No. 1, January, February, 2012, Page(s) 12-13 - Letters.

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