IMG Eligibility for Royal College Exams; What you need to know

Royal college examinations are held in order to verify the competency level of a candidate based on expectations of their specialty training. IMG’s have long wanted a fast-tracked way of getting into the Canadian medical system without having to redo residency all over again. Finally, it seems there may be some excellent opportunities for IMGs to pursue practice ready assessments.

Candidates who finished their medical residency training outside of North America are considered international medical graduates (IMG). Eligibility for the Royal College exams is not dependent on living in Canada or being a Canadian citizen. Rather IMGs with recognized medical and residency training can now be considered. This is a huge win for IMGs worldwide looking to move to and practice within Canada.

All provinces and territories have their own medical regulatory licensing authority, which sets the licensing criteria provincially. The Royal College does not provide licences to practise, so ultimately we still need to look at province by province. BUT… there is a movement towards allowing IMGs a faster way to obtain licensure and practice in Canada.

Following exam eligibility assessments, if successful, you are given 3 years to write your exam. This Royal College Exam is the most important and crucial step to being able to practice and be a licensed physician in Canada.

Approved Jurisdictions

If you are an IMG who has completed your specialty training in an approved jurisdiction, you can apply for a training assessment, as the first step to determine your eligibility to write a Royal College Exam. This assessment evaluates whether you meet specialty-specific training requirements in an approved program. Not every specialty is approved in each jurisdiction so you need to do your research carefully. Preferences may change in terms of which specialties are in-demand. We recommend frequent check-ins with the royal college website to see whether your specialty is in demand.

IMG Training Assessment

The training assessment occurs the year before you plan to write your exam. It is both the clinical portion and the written portion that will factor into determining your ability to practice in Canada. Before this track, candidates would have had to redo residency from scratch. This track provides applicants with an opportunity to use their training and only have it examined compared to the Canadian standard. The spring exam deadline is April 30, and the fall deadline is August 31. The program credentialling will be very rigorous but it would save many years and cost that would otherwise go towards licensure for redoing residency.

Practice Eligibility Route Paths: Options you can pursue

This path is available to IMGs who have practised in their specialty for three years in any jurisdiction. It is very important to carefully review the parameters below to see whether your experience would meet the required criteria. For specialists looking to credential, you do require a minimum of 3 years of regular medical practice in any accredited jurisdiction.

The two Practice Eligibility Route paths are as follows: please carefully review the criteria below.

  1. Specialists with a minimum of 5 years of practice (at least 2 years in Canada)
  2. Specialists with a minimum of 3 years of practice (in any jurisdiction)

Wondering what to do next if you meet the above criteria? Follow the steps below carefully and reach out to us if you need any help.

1. Step 1, submit your credentials. Once that happens, your credentials are Reviewed and Exam Eligibility is determined

The Royal College will review your application to determine the equivalency of your training to the Canadian training in your specialty.  This is required to move on to the next step. If your credentials check out, we can then go to the next step which is the royal college exam.

2. Writing Royal College Specialty Exam

Once you meet the required clinical requirements, it is now time to take the Royal College exam. In this path, you must register for the exam and pay the fee for the exam. The typical exam fee is around $5000 which accounts for the full components of the royal college exam.  They are held on fixed dates and take place once per year. The exam has written and applied components. There is no flexibility around this exam. This is one of the most rigorous exams in the world as it pertains to the credentially of one’s specialty.

3. Two Years of Practice in Canada

To obtain certification from the Royal College, you must complete your specialty exam and have two years of practice in Canada as an independent specialist.

4. Canadian Practice Assessment

Your two years of practice will be evaluated by the Royal College.  Many documents are required, and credentials will be verified by the Specialty Committee. This is often the toughest to source but is needed to ensure your clinical acumen is being evaluated properly.

Certification and Fellowship by the Royal College will result if all the previous steps listed have been completed.

Practice-Ready Assessment

If you have received certification from an international jurisdiction and you are an IMG in Canada who plans to reside and practise in Canada, you may qualify for a practice-ready assessment through your provincial medical regulatory authority.

The practice-ready assessment is a supervised clinical assessment to ensure you have met the training requirements for your specialty to register for the Royal College exam. This is the first step towards obtaining your Royal College certification.

Subspecialty Examination Affiliate Program (SEAP) & Practice Eligibility Route for the Subspecialty Examination Affiliate Program (PER-SEAP)

If you are not Royal College certified in your primary specialty and are an IMG subspecialist in Canada, who is registered with a postgraduate office in an accredited Royal College subspecialty training program, you may be able to apply for an assessment through SEAP or PER-SEAP.

If you are determined eligible and complete the exam successfully, you will be provided with Royal College attestation, and invited to join the Royal College as a Subspecialist Affiliate.

Please visit the Royal College website to learn more about eligibility, assessment fees and exam fees, and to complete your assessment application.