How do I get into Medical Schools in Canada?


medical schools

Attending medical schools in Canada has a lot of advantages.
If you’re a Canadian, you may be interested in obtaining a college education at home and using it to help your community. Non-Canadians may be drawn to Canada’s superior education system, which ranks seven Canadian medical schools in the top 100 in the world by Times Higher Education. This gives graduates tremendous freedom to practise anywhere on the globe.
Canadian medical schools’ inexpensive yearly tuition of USD 13,000 for Canadians and USD 23,000 for international students may entice you. Canada’s medical school expenditures are lower than the U.S. average of $ 33,000 for in-state students and $ 56,000 for out-of-state students at public and private universities.
Alternatively, perhaps you’ve heard about Canada’s excellent standard of life, stunning natural landscapes, and delectable poutine, and now you want to make it your permanent residence.
You may already be aware that medical school admissions in Canada differ from those in other countries for various reasons.

Rates of enrolment in medical schools and residencies

Which medical schools in Canada are the most competitive?

Because of the country’s shortage of doctors, there is a fallacy that Canadian medical schools have lower admission requirements than those in other countries. However, compared to the United States, Canadian medical school acceptance rates are meagre—averaging roughly 17% vs. 36% nationwide.

Because of the small class sizes, the real-world lack of doctors isn’t translating into higher admissions rates. Many students and interns cannot be accommodated since there are insufficient medical schools and hospitals in the country or adequate staff and resources.

Medical schools in Canada prefer candidates who live in the same provinces. According to the coaches, those pupils are more likely to stay in the area and continue their training.

It is healthy knowledge that students who graduate from Canadian medical schools have an easier time matching into a residency programme here at home. However, this is not always the case for Canadians who graduated from overseas medical schools. We’ll discuss why this is the case later.

Is it possible to apply to Canadian medical schools as an international student?

The policy of Canadian medical schools concerning international applicants varies widely. International students can apply for admission to some schools, while others only accept applications from nations with which they have signed a contract. Yet, others do not take international students. That Canadian medical school graduates can continue to practise medicine in Canada is one reason for the emphasis on domestic applications. It is in the national interest of the Canadian government to extensively support these schools so that their graduates can serve the country’s healthcare system.
Despite this, seven of Canada’s 17 medical schools accept applications from international students who are not on a “contract” basis. These seven are the only options if you come from the United States, the United Kingdom, or any other country that doesn’t often have a contract with Canadian schools.
Even if some schools allow international students to apply, there is no guarantee that they would accept any, and when they do get one, it is generally just in the single digits. During the 2018–2019 academic year, only 16 non-contract international students registered in Canadian medical schools for their first year of study.
The University of Montréal, Laval University, and Sherbrooke University, all located in Quebec, are the only ones that provide education in French.
However, admissions to medical school are stern worldwide, and adding a Canadian university to the mix enhances your chances of getting into a medical school. Adding Canadian medical schools to your list while avoiding burnout may help you feel better by having more options, which is a good thing in and of itself.

Do Canadian medical residency programmes provide preference to applicants having a medical degree from Canada?

If you want to work as a physician in Canada but are not a Canadian citizen, earning a Canadian medical degree will give you a leg up in the application process. In 2021, 95.9% of Canadian medical school graduates (CMGs) successfully matched into a Canadian medical residency programme, compared to only 58.8% of USMGs and 30.2% of IMGs who applied to Canadian medical residency programmes.

If you’re an IMG or U.S. citizen, you may not be able to get into several Canadian residency programmes because they don’t accept them.

Even the Association of Faculties of Medicine in Canada has recently advocated that IMGs and USMGs not be permitted to apply for residency until after the second round of admissions.

Of course, Canadian medical degrees do not guarantee admission to a Canadian residency programme. You must be a Canadian or a permanent resident to be eligible for a Canadian medical residency programme. If you have completed two years of post-secondary education at a recognized institution in Canada, you are eligible to apply for permanent resident status (find out more here.)

If you’re an International Medical Graduate (IMG), you’ll need to pass the Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination before applying to medical residency programmes. Other province-specific conditions, including additional tests, must be met.

Conclusion: Attending a Canadian medical school will make it easier for you to match into a Canada-based residency programme.

What qualities are sought after by medical colleges in Canada?

  • According to several observers, Canadian medical schools may be more concerned with grades and test scores than their American counterparts.
  • According to them, the average GPA of Canadian medical school candidates is higher than the average in the United States. Only a small percentage of Canadian medical schools ask for lengthy personal statements typical to American medical schools.
  • This reasoning, however, is a little deceptive. GPA requirements in Canada are higher because admissions are tougher overall and not because Canadian colleges don’t care about your specific characteristics.
    As a result, they must ensure that their students have the personal traits necessary to care for a wide range of patient populations.
  • For the education of physicians in Canada, the CanMEDS educational framework provides a detailed description of what it takes to be an effective healthcare provider. A list of the CanMEDS responsibilities, including communicators, community collaborators, leaders in health advocacy and scholars and ethical professionals, is essential to include here.
  • As a result, the emphasis is placed not just on technical expertise but also on respect for the dignity and social context of patients and communities.
  • At the beginning of your application process, sit down with the CanMEDS qualities and list everything you’ve done that fits into one of these categories. You’ll need it when you’re making your to-do lists and responding to the short essays that each school requires.
  • CanMEDS responsibilities can help you prevent exhaustion in your Canadian medical school application process in the same way as prewriting your secondary essays for American medical schools enables you to avoid fatigue.
  • As a result, most Canadian medical schools no longer require applicants to submit extensive personal statements as part of the application process. While the latter may possess all the character attributes that would make them an outstanding physician, the narrative of a student who spent free time working for a minimal wage in Peru will appear more remarkable to the reader.
  • There are several other indicators that Canadian medical schools utilize, including:
    • Extracurricular activities should be described in 20- to 50-word summaries, similar to the AMCAS
    • Work & Activities section, with additional explanations of up to 250 words.
  • Casper is an online personality test that uses scenario-based questions to assess a person’s personality.
    In the U.S., the Multiple Mini Interview (and its derivatives), aimed to extract frank answers more successfully than a panel interview, is becoming more and more commonplace.
  • In the next part, we’ll walk you through the process of using these and other metrics to demonstrate that you meet the criteria for admission to a top Canadian medical school using the CanMEDS system.
  • Considering that every University uses these metrics differently, you should also review the appendix to this article for a list of those that use each of these metrics (for example, not all schools use the MMI, and not all of them consider the MCAT).
  • Last but not least, you should check the websites of the schools you’re considering applying to, as many of them detail the factors they consider when evaluating your application. According to the University of Montreal, candidates are evaluated 40 percent academically, 50 percent through the MMI and 10 percent through CASPer.

How to get into a top Canadian medical school?

Be aware of Canada’s medical school application deadline dates before applying

University and regional deadlines differ significantly.

The Ontario Medical School Application Service (OMSAS) is the single application point for all six of Ontario’s medical schools (OMSAS). The following is a typical example of their timetable:

  • Applicants will be able to apply in July.
  • Applications, transcripts, biographical sketches, references, and other documents must be submitted by the end of October.
  • The deadline for submitting MCAT scores is in November.
  • Offers of job interviews in January
  • During January and February, I will be conducting interviews.
  • First-come, first-served admissions are available in May.

Each year, the deadlines for online applications differ from school to school. Nonetheless, here’s a look at their specific deadlines:

  • During this period, Dalhousie University
  • In September, the University of British Columbia, Memorial University of Newfoundland, and McGill University will participate.
  • In October, students at the Universities of Calgary, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta will take classes.
  • November: the University of Sherbrooke, University of Montreal, and Laval University.
  • Some schools offer early decision dates, like the University of British Columbia. It’s important to note that even if you qualify for an earlier decision, your application won’t be examined until after the final deadline for submission.
Your GPA is calculated in various ways by each of your schools
  • Each Canadian medical school has its system for computing a student’s grade point average, which is common in higher education. A 4.0, 4.33, or another scale can be used to match a letter grade or percentage system.
  • Some Canadian universities, like the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia, allow students who consistently take a “full course load” of five classes to drop their lowest grades.
  • If you’re used to a system where students take fewer than five classes each term, you might be concerned about this, but don’t be. There is no need to worry about admissions committees penalizing applicants for completing more petite than a full course load because they are familiar with other institutions’ grading schemes.
  • A slight advantage or disadvantage from the conversion is unlikely to matter if you’ve done well in school and aced the other application measures. The “Academic Explanations” box on your application forms might be an excellent place to discuss your prior University’s unorthodox grading system.
Make a to-do list or an autobiographical narrative for OMSAS
  • There is only one written statement that most Canadian medical schools will accept: a list of your extracurricular activities with brief explanations.
  • Instead of using the AMCAS application platform, most schools in Canada require you to submit these lists through their website (barring the Ontario schools, which all use OMSAS). Each school’s policy on listing activities (OSMAS allows 32, while UCalgary allows only 10) and the description length differs (ranging from 20 to 250 words).
  • Choosing the ideal activities and writing about them succinctly is essential for admissions officers to get a glimpse into your daily life.

This is how you pick your activities:

    • Don’t include every single thing you’ve ever done. Because the time allotted to each applicant by the admissions committees is limited, you should focus on activities most closely aligned with the CanMEDS personality attributes.
    • As a “scholar” and a “health advocate,” you should participate in activities like physician shadowing, research help, and volunteer medical service to demonstrate your interest in the field and compassion for others.
    • Do not forget that CanMEDS doctors are expected to be more than just academically accomplished; they are also likely to be responsible citizens, sensitive communicators, and active members of the local communities in which they practise. Personal feelings and social history complicate medical therapy, and medical professionals must cope with them both in the office and public.
    • You could demonstrate these characteristics by writing about medical matters. Your resume could also include a sociology project, volunteer work at a safe injection site, or time spent on a debate team.
    • You might also incorporate activities from your routine into the equation. Applications that mentioned caring for an Alzheimer’s patient and counselling a youngster with a bipolar condition have been successful. There is little doubt that these experiences impacted your life and possibly, influenced your decision to pursue a career in medicine.
    • Explanations of past jobs and interests, such as hiking, weightlifting, or singing in a band, show that you have a strong work ethic and can relate to people outside the medical profession.
    • Describe your activities in these words:
    • Before deciding on your activities, clearly and concisely describe how they relate to CanMEDS and what you’ve learnt from participating. Cut out unnecessary words and transitions, and instead, use short statements.
      As you can see, even in 250 words, it’s tougher said than done, let alone in 50 or 20. Here are some outstanding examples provided by a candidate we’ll call Jane. Regardless of how long they are, they all use the same tactics.
Make a statement about who you are and what you want to accomplish in
  • It’s essential to keep in mind, though, that Canadian medical schools are seeking individuals who reflect the CanMEDS character traits.
  • The University requires four 250-word comments of Toronto to determine if you have CanMEDS characteristics. This includes remarks on your personal and professional experiences, current events, and medical practice.
  • If you keep your CanMEDS prewrites on hand, you’ll be ready for situations like this. Here are two samples from a prior admissions season at the University of Toronto.
Prepare for Casper

Online exam Casper presents applicants with a series of hypothetical scenarios and asks them to explain what they would do in each. There are no “correct” or “wrong” replies in these situations. A score is given to candidates depending on how well their explanations align with the ideal physician’s ethics and sensibilities.
A trio of exams known as the Altus Suite includes Casper, dubbed Snapshot, and Duet, which is called Duet. One or both of these additional tests may be required by some schools.
Ten Canadian medical schools are actively using Casper.

Prepare for your interviews

Some Canadian medical schools use multiple mini interviews (MMI), while others use panel interviews. Only a few schools use traditional panel interviews. In the appendix, you’ll find a list of medical schools and information on the format those schools use.

Here are some tips on how to get ready for different kinds of interviews.

  • A Series of Mini-Interviews: Approximately six to ten stations will be visited once during the MMI. As a part of the course, you’ll be required to respond to a specific question or perform a particular exercise. Canadian MMIs differ slightly from their American counterparts. They contain more scenarios that deal with issues specific to a particular region. Even though the format has expanded worldwide, it was first developed at McMaster University to ensure that medical schools recruit aspiring doctors who can handle Canada’s needs. McMaster University. So, in addition to medical professionals, MMI committees in Canada will include members of indigenous communities and those fluent in French. However, that doesn’t mean that all of the possible outcomes are going to be wholly Canadian-specific. A sensitivity to the country’s current events could be of enormous value. Questions about the ethics of dispensing homeopathic medications and of giving preference in medical school admissions to students from northern Ontario are both included in McGill’s sample MMI questions. UBC and Calgary both used MMI questions that had a similar mix.
  • Refined MMIs: Montreal, Laval, and Sherbrooke use a modified MMI format for their interviews. Response times are faster than in other MMIs, and there are more stations than in most other MMIs (12).
  • Combination of Panel and MMIs: Traditional interviews, such as those employed by several Canadian medical schools, are a way of discovering more about an applicant’s life narrative and professional background. The 45-minute, three-person panels are used by Western University and the University of Ottawa. That panel is combined with the MMI scenario stations by Queen’s University and the Memorial University of Newfoundland. Last, the Modified Personal Interview is a hypothetical station format developed at the University of Toronto that replaces the MMI with one-on-one personal interviews (MPI).
    Remember that each of these formats is a way of determining if you fit the CanMEDS roles.
Didn’t make it? Consider reapplying

Reapplying to medical school is possible if none of your top selections accepts you. On the first try, fewer than 20% of candidates are granted admission. As a result, Canadian medical schools allow qualified applicants to reapply without fear of repercussion. Consider taking a year off to retake the MCAT, increase your extracurricular activities, or work on any other weak areas of your application.


What is the med school in Canada that is easiest to get into?

It’s a medical school at the University of Saskatchewan.

Which Canadian medical school is the least difficult to get into?

Among medical schools, the University of Saskatchewan College of Medicine has the most welcoming acceptance rate of 18.6 percent.

Can you go directly to medical school in Canada?

Acquire a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree
First and foremost, you must have a bachelor’s degree from an approved university to attend medical school in Canada. To be considered by most medical schools, you will need a bachelor’s degree at the very least.

What percentage of applicants get into medical school in Canada?

5-5.5% of the total
In 2021, the average acceptance rate for all Canadian medical schools was around 5.5 percent. The medical schools listed below have supplied the total number of applicants, interview slots, and accepted students each year.

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