USA vs Canada for IMGs

This is among the top 3 questions I get asked about IMG-ing: How different is the landscape for IMGs in Canada compared to the US. While this question has many facets to it including but not limited to geography, politics and personal situation, below are some facts that I have gathered to compare the two systems.

Please note that for the purposes of this article I am strictly speaking about applying for a residency position. Physicians with pre-existing post-graduate training have other avenues they can explore in Canada. Also the information below is “at a glance” and the numbers are rough, for the sake of providing an approximation. Exact numbers may be different when you decide to apply.

Number of programs
Only university programs. There are 17 medical universities in Canada that offer post grad medical training. If you exclude French programs, that shortens that number to 13-14 universities
Both universities and community hospital offer post grad training which translates to hundreds of programs available to apply to
Who can apply?
Only Canadian citizens or Permanent residents. Must be graduates of medical school on  World Directory of Medical Schools published by FAIMER
Theoretically anyone who has completed the USMLEs. People can match and work on a number of visa combinations. Dont ask me more, the US visa system is too complicated for my brain
How it works
In first round, IMGs can only apply for seats earmarked for IMGs. All unmatched seats from first round are opened to both IMGs and CMGs in the second round. Please note there are some provincial differences in SK and QB
All seats are open to both IMGs and local graduates. Some programs do make distinctions on how many IMG applicants they may take in total but on paper I believe every seat is open for application
Exams required
Keeps changing. At the time of writing this article, MCCQE1 and NACOSCE are mandatory. The MCCEE is being phased out. Updates at
USMLE Step 1, Step 2 CK and CS. Step 3 is optional
Total approx exams costs
$3735 CAD
$2550 USD
Word on the street
“Impossible” to match as IMG
Hard but worth the effort
Success rate
20% IMGs matched after both rounds in 2018 as per CARMS
56.5% IMG matched as per ECFMG in 2018

6 thoughts on “USA vs Canada for IMGs

    1. Hi Zhe Wang. I am not sure if I can accurately answer your question. Certainly Family medicine is a great career in Canada, I do not have any stats to tell you how they compare to GPs in US

      Liked by 1 person

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