Pursuing an M.D. Degree - How to Become a Doctor in Canada

By Sara Parent

Doctors are one of the most highly sought after professionals today. Plenty of opportunities exist in Canada and around the world for qualified doctors. As the population ages, the fact that we are living longer, virtually ensures this trend is likely to continue.

If you've thought about a career in medicine, here is some information on the profession, medical schools in Canada, and what it takes to make it.

Being a physician requires skill, patience, a desire to learn, and a lifelong commitment to improving patient health. You need to have the drive and desire to constantly be expanding your expertise and communicating with your patients. Doctors play a critical role in the health care system and many people rely on their experience and skill. It can be a very stressful job but a satisfying one as well.

If you think practicing medicine is for you, you will need to go to university, earn an undergraduate degree, and apply to medical school.

Requirements:

Many universities require an undergraduate degree that encompasses some science, chemistry, or biology courses. Some however, simply require an undergraduate degree but recommend that the courses taken aid you in your future career.

There are seventeen faculties of medicine in Canada, from coast to coast. Many of them have residency requirements, meaning that they will accept a majority of their applications from residents of their province. Some do however have some out-of-province admission allocations, but these are usually limited and the entrance requirements may be higher. It's a good idea to plan ahead and decide which faculty you'd like to attend and what requirements they might have.

The six faculties of medicine that are located in Ontario use a commom application system called OMSAS (Ontario Medical School Application Service.) There is a charge to apply to medical school and if you are in Ontario and using this system, the fee depends on how many schools you are applying to.

But Wait, That's Not All:

Many Canadian universities also use MCATs (Medical College Admission Test) as a way to test their applicants. MCAT testing takes place at various times of the year. The way the test scores are applied varying from school to school, so be sure to verify the admission requirements for the faculty you are interested in. Not all schools require the MCAT, so to save yourself some potential stress and expense, check the admission policy first.

Most faculties of medicine also require interviews as part of the application process. Interviews usually take place in the early part of the year in which you are applying to start your program.

How Much?:

Depending on where you live fees can vary widely. the fees range from about $6000 to $16000 per year for Canadian residents. The exception to these higher costs is Quebec. For the year 2004-2005, Quebec residents pay around $3000 for a year's tuition at Universite Laval, Universite de Sherbrooke, Universite de Montreal, and McGill University. However, if you do not live in the province, your rates are about twice or triple that. As with all Canadian university programs, foreign students and visa holders can expect to pay much more.

What You'll Learn:

Courses range from learning about the human body to doctor-patient communication. Most often, the first two years are spent learning the fundamental aspects of medicine. The final two years are spent on the job through a clerkship program learning to diagnose, evaluate, and practice real life training. Evaluations are held during this clerkship period to determine the skills and aptitudes of the senior medical students.

Then What?:

In order to be licensed in Canada, students in their final year of studies must participate in examinations set by the Medical Council of Canada.

Postgraduate studies in medicine, leading to further examinations can be taken in a variety of fields of medicine, including family medicine, internal medicine, and general surgery.

Opportunities for working as a doctor are varied. Because of the high demand for these qualified professionals, doctors can work virtually anywhere. Often, provinces and foreign countries offer incentives for doctors to relocate. As well as working in hospitals, clinics, community health, and private practice, doctors can work in research, private companies, and in a volunteer capacity.

Becoming a doctor takes years of study and dedication to lifelong learning. If this is a field that interests you, it deserves a second look. By visiting the websites of the various faculties of medicine offered at universities across Canada, you can gain a better understanding of what's involved in applying to, and qualifying for admission in their faculty.


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