Royal College announces changes to streamline certification process for internationally trained physicians
To help alleviate the health human resources crisis in Canada, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada is working to streamline the process for internationally trained specialists to be certified in Canada through several alternate pathways (the standard pathway being medical school and residency done in accredited programs in Canada).
“We’re trying to create the opportunity for anybody, regardless of where they were trained, to be able to demonstrate their knowledge and ability to do the work in practice, observed by experts,” says Glen Bandiera, MD, FRCPC, executive director of Standards and Assessment at the Royal College.
The Practice Eligibility Route (PER) is for internationally trained specialists who have started practice and it allows them to apply for an assessment for Royal College exam eligibility and, ultimately, certification. This path is designed for recognized primary specialties only.
The Royal College has simplified the process for candidates, including allowing them to take our written exam before moving to Canada. We’ve also changed the requirements for the five years of practice that’s required. Candidates can apply after two years of practice in their home jurisdiction.
“The scope of practice review step added anywhere from six to 12 months to an application,” explains Dr. Bandiera. “Now that we’ve removed that step, we expect it’ll generate an increase in applications over the next year.”
In 2022, there were 250 applicants for the alternate pathways.
“I think five years from now, internationally trained physicians would be getting into the system within one or two years, regardless of their medical specialty, as opposed to five to seven years,” says Dr. Bandiera.
Here’s what we’re doing now
- Improving our processes to review applications, grant exam eligibility and provide recognition for internationally trained specialist physicians
- Modifying the training model to provide more flexible opportunities for in-practice assessment
- Scaling up our operations to process applications
- Establishing the ability for medical schools to nominate candidates who have been successful in a Practice-Ready Assessment (PRA) for examination eligibility
- Working on the design of a new in-practice assessment, modelled on existing PRAs in Family Medicine, Psychiatry and Internal Medicine, in certain jurisdictions in Canada
Here’s what we plan to do in the near future
For the evolving PER, the Royal College will be reducing the five years of practice requirement to the minimum time required to determine competence – between 12 weeks and two years. Candidates would then be required to successfully complete the relevant specialty examination to be certified by the Royal College.
The Royal College looks forward to continuing to share updates on the evolution of certification pathways as changes are being phased in.