Information you need to know to practice as a Physician or Surgeon

Who is the licensing body responsible for Physicians in Alberta?

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) is the licensing authority responsible for licensing all physicians, setting standards of medical practice in Alberta.

What are the options to become licensed as a Physician in Alberta?

There are two basic routes that internationally educated physicians can follow to become licensed in Canada: Residency or Practice Ready Assessment. Please note that each province will have variations from the process provided here.

  • Upon completion of the following requirements, you may be prepared to compete for residency across Canada:
  • Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Exam Part I (MCCQEI)
  • National Assessment Collaboration Objective Structured Clinical Examination (NAC OSCE)
  • IELTS/7
  • Multi Mini Interview (MMI) to compete in Alberta (check other provinces to see their requirements)

** Residency is a competitive process in all provinces. Here in Alberta one must pass a clinical externship to the matched program before being fully accepted into the matched program. **

Practice Ready Assessment

Upon completion of the following requirements, you may be eligible for a Practice Ready Assessment:

  • IELTS/7
  • NAC with a pass with superior performance or a pass on the MCCQE2

Note: Please read provincial requirements carefully as the above are basic requirements. As of January 2018 the MCC plans to deliver a Pan Canadian Practice Ready Assessment focused on Family Medicine only. In future, general Internal Medicine and Psychiatry will be considered. Please see the Medical Council of Canada (MCC) website for more information.

What tools are available to help me determine my eligibility for Practice Ready Assessment (PRA)?

Applicants are encouraged to visit the CPSA website, carefully read the criteria for registration, and perform their own assessment of their eligibility by using the Self-Assessment flow charts before deciding to submit an online eligibility review. This is the best approach to determine whether applicants meet the criteria required by the CPSA.

Note: Practice Ready Assessments are conducted by the provinces. Candidates are encouraged to check other provinces’ licensing body websites as well.

What is the role of the Medical Council of Canada (MCC)?

The Medical Council of Canada is responsible for all assessments:

  • Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination Part II (MCC QEII)

What is the process to Residency?

MCC Qualifying Examination Part I

IMG's who intend to compete for residency or to obtain the qualification of Licentiate of the Medical Council of Canada (LMCC) should write and pass MCC QE1.The MCC QE1 is available in 80 countries.
Note: When applying to CARMS, residency candidates outside of Alberta are not required to hold a pass on the MCC QE1 in order to compete for residency in most programs/provinces.


A pass on the NAC OSCE is required to compete for residency across Canada. Candidates can now directly challenge the NAC OSCE without first passing either MCC QE1. Candidates can repeat the NAC up to three times to improve their score however the exam can only be accessed to repeat once per calendar year.

The MCC Qualifying Examination Part II

The MCC QEII assesses the competence of candidates, specifically the knowledge, skills and attitudes essential for medical licensure in Canada, following a minimum of 12 months of supervised postgraduate clinical medical training or postgraduate osteopathic clinical training. Note: The MCC QEII is not required to compete for residency.

Multiple Mini Interview (MMI)

The MMI is required for to be considered for residency in Alberta. The MMI assesses the ability of candidates to apply general knowledge to issues relevant to the culture and society in which you will be practicing. Note: As of 2015, candidates who wish to compete for residency in the Province of Alberta (and who meet all other provincial criteria) will be required to repeat the MMI. Please see the AIMG website for more information.

What resources are available to help me with exams?


Directions for Immigrants – Exam Preparation

Directions for Immigrants offers study groups for the MCC QE1 and NAC OSCE. The aim of the study groups is to facilitate focused learning and provide a learning environment in which Canadian medical content can be explored, discussed, and modeled with practicing Canadian physicians and senior residents. Visit the Study Groups page for more information on this service and eligibility criteria.


Directions for Immigrants – Multiple Mini Interview Preparation

Directions for Immigrants offers workshops to help internationally educated physicians prepare for the Multiple Mini Interviews. Contact your coach for further information.

Directions for Immigrants – Curriculum Vitae (CV) and Personal Statement (PS) Preparation Workshops

Directions for Immigrants offers CV preparation workshops to support IMG's to create effective CVs for their residency application. Contact your coach for further information.


Directions for Immigrants – Individual Coaching and Preparation

In addition to study groups and workshops, Directions for Immigrants provides one-on-one coaching to support IMG's to prepare for their residency interviews and personal statements (PS). Please call the Directions for Immigrants’ office at 403-770-5155 to arrange an appointment.

What alternative employment pathways are available for internationally educated Physicians?

Clinical Assistants

The ACSAP provides IMG's the opportunity to compete for clinical employment within the Province of Alberta as either a clinical or a surgical assistant. This employment pathway does not lead to the full licensure, but provides high level clinical employment under supervision while holding a restricted practice license issued by CPSA. Baseline requirements are a pass on the LMC1 and an Academic IELTS with 7 in each benchmark. You must also have one year post-graduate training. Final licensing approvals rest with CPSA. Pre screening information can be found at AHS.  

Physician’s Assistant

Internationally Educated Doctors may wish to investigate the alternate career path of becoming a Physician’s Assistant (PA). For more information, visit the Canadian Association of Physicians’ Assistants website. Note: The Physician’s Assistant program does not lead to becoming a doctor in Canada.

The following educational institutions offer PA programs:

What are the accepted English language proficiency tests and where can I be tested?

Applicants must achieve the required passing score on one of the CPSA approved English proficiency tests: IELTS 7. To learn more about where to take an English language proficiency test in Alberta, visit English Language Proficiency Tests and Locations.

What supports are available to support internationally educated physicians to integrate into the Canadian labour force?

Directions for Immigrants offers workplace communication groups to help you integrate into the Canadian work environment. The Clear Communication for Health Professionals (CCHP) workplace communication group is designed to help internationally educated health care professionals fine-tune their communication skills with patients, supervisors, and colleagues. In one week, you will learn through role-play and scenarios the nuances and expectations of Canadian patients, inter-disciplinary teams, and other health care industry participants. Topics include overcoming communication barriers, professional workplace interaction/behaviour, Canadian workplace culture, conflict resolution, and teamwork. Visit Clear Communication for Health Professionals for more information.

What information resources are available for Physicians in Alberta?

Vital Links

For more information, visit the following websites:

Useful Links

Additional Occupational Information

For more information on occupations, duties and wages, visit: