20120323 IMG and Canadians studying abroad

The following message is sent on behalf of Dean Gavin Stuart to members of the UBC Faculty of Medicine.

Dear colleagues,

There is increasing interest in Canadians who go abroad to study medicine, graduate from foreign programs and hope to return to Canada to complete their postgraduate (residency) medical training. Without postgraduate training they have insufficient training to be licensed to practice independently in Canada. Here in British Columbia, recent media reports are calling on the Ministry of Health and Faculty of Medicine to address both the growing numbers of Canadians studying medicine abroad (CSAs), and the obstacles they face upon return to Canada.

Interest in this issue is heightening across Canada because of an increased demand for postgraduate residency positions. The number of Canadians studying abroad (CSAs) has doubled over the past five years to an estimated 3,500. Some countries offering MD undergraduate training have closed off-shore medical graduates’ access to postgraduate residencies in their country. There are more immigrant international medical graduates (IMGs) in Canada seeking access to postgraduate medical education prior to entry to practice.

The Faculty of Medicine is working closely with the Ministry of Health to expand training positions for international medical graduates (IMGs), which includes Canadians who have completed their training abroad. Over the next several years a total of 40 new positions are expected to be added, bringing the total at full implementation to 58 entry-level positions (20% of the Faculty’s postgraduate positions) for international medical graduates. This is in addition to the expansion and distribution of the MD undergraduate program (288 positions currently) and postgraduate training programs.

The Faculty of Medicine counts many foreign trained physicians and health professionals among its ranks, and we fully recognize the important contributions they make not only to health education, but also to patient care in British Columbia. We are committed to working with key stakeholders to improve access for international medical graduates and to improve communication, not only for those who have graduated from foreign programs and seek to return, but also for those considering studying abroad.

For those seeking more information on this issue, I am pleased to share the attached background paper developed jointly with the Ministries of Health and Advanced Education. I also welcome your input and feedback, and I am committed to updating faculty, staff and students on developments as we work together to develop a medical education system that addresses the unique needs of individuals and communities across our Province.


Gavin C.E. Stuart, MD, FRCSC
Dean, Faculty of Medicine
Vice Provost Health, UBC