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Postgraduate Medical Education

In Canada, medical education is a graduated process, composed of two main stages. The first stage involves successful completion of a Medical Doctor (M.D.) program. M.D. programs are usually 3-4 years in length and build on the student’s basic life science knowledge while introducing new clinical skills. Having completed an M.D. degree program, physicians move on to postgraduate medical education, or “residency training”. Residency training is the final stage of medical education, prior to College certification and practice as a fully-licensed physician.

Residency training hones the M.D. graduate’s skills for practice as a family medicine, surgical, medical or laboratory specialist. In Canada, Family Medicine training programs are two years in length, with an optional third year for those who choose to pursue advanced training in emergency medicine, care of the elderly or other enhanced skills. Medical, Surgical and Laboratory training programs typically span 3-5 years, with subspecialization extending the length of training. 

Residency training culminates in professional certification. Upon completion of Family Medicine training, residents challenge certifying exams of the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC). Residents challenge exams of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) after completing training in Medical, Surgical and Laboratory residency programs. Having achieved CFPC or RCPSC certification, the physician is prepared for unsupervised, fully-licensed medical practice and a career supported by continuing professional development.

Medical Education to Practice Flow