Foreign-trained doctors can reach their Canadian dreams: 5 career success strategies to get there

Published May 1, 2023.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes 

In summary:

  • The skills and experiences of foreign-trained doctors in Canada are in demand and will be in the years to come as the population ages. 
  • The Canadian licensure process for international medical graduates (IMGs) can be challenging but with guidance and support, you can reach your professional aspirations.
  • Ensure you seek out advice from other foreign-trained medical professionals working in Canada, so you know what to expect as you begin your professional journey.  

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, over 16 per cent of physicians in Canada were trained abroad, and this percentage continues to rise every year. As the country continues to welcome foreign-trained doctors, it's important to address the unique challenges these physicians face in achieving their career goals in Canada. 

While foreign-trained physicians bring valuable skills and experience to the Canadian healthcare system, they often face significant obstacles in obtaining licensure and employment. The process of obtaining a medical licence in Canada can be lengthy and complex, involving rigorous exams and lengthy training programs. This can create significant financial and personal challenges for foreign-trained physicians, many of whom are already facing language barriers, cultural differences, and other challenges associated with immigrating to a new country. 

 If you are an international medical graduate (IMG) looking to learn more about the steps needed to become licensed to work in Canada, visit Windmill’s Educational Pathways.     

Despite these challenges, there are strategies and resources available to help foreign-trained physicians succeed in Canada. These range from mentorship and bridging programs to microloans and ethnoprofessional networks. Foreign-trained physicians can navigate the licensure process and gain the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in their chosen career path in their new country. With the right support and guidance, foreign-trained physicians can achieve their career aspirations and make meaningful contributions to the Canadian healthcare system. 

To help foreign-trained doctors get closer to reaching their Canadian career goals, the Windmill Microlending blog connected with Dr. Itua Iriogbe, incoming President of the Canadian Association of Nigerian Physicians and Dentists (CANPAD). Dr. Iriogbe immigrated to Canada from South Africa and has been working as a family physician in Alberta since 2009. In this article, Dr. Iriogbe share five success strategies to help you reach your medical career aspirations in Canada. 

CANPAD’s Dr. Itua Iriogbe is a foreign-trained physician who immigrated to Canada from South Africa. He offers tips to help you reach your Canadian medical career goals.  

Want to learn more about the doctor licensure process in Canada? Read our recent blog post. 

Success Strategy #1: Get to know the terrain 

Take the time to learn about how a temporary work permit can mean easier access to economic permanent residence immigration programs in Canada, particularly for foreign-trained physicians. The demand for doctors is so great in every part of Canada, you can leverage your medical skills and experience to make this country your new permanent home. Get to know the steps you need to take to do so. Learn about your immigration options. Check out the portal for more information.  

Success Strategy #2: Understand Canadian professional requirements 

Different provinces and territories in Canada have unique requirements and steps for completing the doctor licensing process. Get to know the professional requirements in your province or territory by visiting your provincial/territorial regulatory body’s website. Here’s a list of the regulatory colleges across Canada. 

HubSpot Video


WATCH: Dr. Itua Iriogbe of the Canadian Association of Nigerian Physicians and Dentists (CANPAD) shares three career success strategies to help foreign-trained doctors achieve career success in Canada. 

Success Strategy #3: Information, Information, Information 

There are so many great sources of information to help you become familiar with your medical career options in Canada. Ethnoprofessional associations like CANPAD or the Northern Indian Medical and Dental Association of Canada (NIMDAC) can help you connect with medical professionals from the same country of origin as you. These individuals have experience in Canada that can help make your journey a little easier. It’s so important to connect with other foreign-trained doctors and to strengthen your Canadian professional network so you know what to expect when you start the process of launching your physician’s career in your new country.  

Success Strategy #4: Decide about specialization 

If you are committed to pursuing a particular medical specialization in Canada, be aware that this may add time to your licensure and accreditation process. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue such opportunities, but it does mean you need to budget and be aware of time and costs involved. Specialist physicians are undeniably in-demand in Canada but with cost-of-living being high in your new country, you want to ensure you put yourself in a position to get back to work as quickly as possible. 

Success Strategy #5: Recognize the time required 

Many foreign-trained physicians talk about the time it can take to get licensed to practice in Canada. Different internationally-trained doctors have experienced a range of timelines, some lasting as many as four or five years. New initiatives like the Practice Ready Assessment stream enable you to work as a doctor in Canada before getting licensed in your province or territory. It can take months to pass qualifying exams like the National Assessment Collaboration Exam (NAC) or the Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Exam (MCCQE) so budget accordingly and determine how your family’s immigration and integration plans may be impacted.  

You can learn more about the Canadian Association of Nigerian Physicians and Dentists (CANPAD), including its programs and services, here. 

Are you a foreign-trained doctor, living in Canada, who needs funds to pay for your Canadian accreditation or doctor licensing process? Over 95% of eligible newcomers are approved for a Windmill Microlending loan of up to $15,000. No Canadian credit history required. Start your application today. 




Categorized in: Accreditation and Licensing, A Newcomer's Journey, In-demand Jobs, Education and Training,