Alberta offers quicker licensing for internationally-trained doctors

Alberta offers quicker licensing for internationally-trained doctors

Some international medical graduates can now fast-track their licensing in Alberta.

Doctor in Alberta

The new pilot project in Alberta aims to fast track licensing for international medical graduates from recognized institutions. (David Donnelly/CBC)

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) announced a five-year pilot project Monday that will bring more doctors to the province quicker, amid a shortage and strained emergency departments.

The CPSA released a 10-page report that details the jurisdictions, fields, institutions and years studied which allow international medical graduates (IMGs) to opt for a three-month process to become licensed in Alberta.

The goal of the project is to evaluate whether eligible IMGs can begin independently practising faster, the college said in a news release.

“Physicians are a worldwide resource in demand. While we’ve put our best foot forward, we realize we can’t single-handedly solve the concern with physician staffing in this province just with this program,” said Michael Caffaro, the CPSA’s assistant registrar.

“We know that there have been several handfuls of physicians who have been holding back on their applications until now.”

In 2022, the province assessed more than 100 international medical graduates.

The pilot will waive some requirements, such as clinical review exams, and the first three-month assessment for IMGs who have comparable training to that obtained in Canadian universities.

Those who qualify will go directly to their identified communities and begin practising while completing their supervised assessment.

Jurisdictions for internationally-trained family doctors and general practitioners include Australia, Ireland, United Kingdom and the U.S.

Deidre Lake, executive director for the Alberta International Medical Graduates Association, said the pilot is a way to bring more specialists to areas that need them.

“Seventy per cent of positions who are practising in rural areas are internationally trained positions,” Lake said.

Alberta is one of the only provinces to assess international specialists, so the change could make the province more competitive.

Marianne Mann, who got her medical training in the Philippines, said the change is not all that helpful.

Although she had been a licensed physician in the Philippines since 2010 with her own dermatology practice, she said that since she moved to Canada two years ago, getting licensed has been costly and lengthy.

“It’s the price I pay because I want to move here. So either I have to start from the bottom or try to take a different path.”

She said it would be great if Canada gave her and others opportunities to continue their original professions.

The dermatologist said she moved to Canada after rolling lockdowns in the Philippines began impacting her business. Now, she works as an esthetician.

“The doctor inside of me knows these things but I know I don’t have the licence to prescribe or even do consultations. So it’s kind of difficult for me to find a new path here,” Mann said.

Mann lives in Vancouver but said she would relocate if it meant being able to practise medicine again.

Caffaro said there is still hope for those who may not be eligible yet.

“Although we start with a number of jurisdictions, a number of countries, it doesn’t mean that this list of countries is going to be static and it certainly may expand, especially as we get more experience in actually bringing these physicians into the province and evaluating them in our new accelerated process.”

Source: CBC News – Katarina Szulc

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