Canadians studying medicine abroad plan to meet to address barriers


President of SOCASMA


CANADIANS who study medicine at reputable medical schools around the world continue to face discrimination and barriers which prevent them from returning home to practice medicine.  The biggest barrier is access to residency training.

Many Canadians are surprised to learn that competition for residency training positions is not based on knowledge, skills, and abilities that relate to medical practice.  It is based on the place of education.   Access to the majority of residency positions remains barred even after Canadians who studied at international schools pass difficult examinations designed to ensure that Canadians who studied outside of Canada meet the high Canadian standards necessary to work as a resident physician.

The Society for Canadians Studying Medicine Abroad (SOCASMA) recently filed a law suit claiming that the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC is failing in its legislated duty to ensure that selection for physicians is based on relevant qualifications and is consistent with the Charter of Rights.

Many Canadians recently learned that Canadian universities which claim they do not have the training resources to train more doctors, train more than 1,000 Saudi Arabians who are prepared to pay the universities high fees to be trained.  Although there are Canadian sponsors who are prepared to pay the universities the cost of training Canadians, the universities are not prepared to train more Canadians with private funding.

UBC and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC do not require Saudi Arabians to pass any examinations to prove that they meet the high Canadian standards necessary to work as resident physicians.  This is so even though these Saudi Arabians working in our hospitals make the same life and death decisions as resident physicians who are Canadian.

When Saudi Arabia threatened to pull out its residents many hospitals would have been left short-staffed had the Saudi Prince followed through.  Recognizing our vulnerability, hospital administrators, the public, and SOCASMA have since been advocating for a self-sufficient health care system that does not depend on foreign relations with a country like Saudi Arabia.  This means funding more residency positions.

Canadians studying medicine abroad will be meeting on November 22 at 6:45 p.m. at 2001 Nanton Avenue in Vancouver to address the issues related to access to residency training and coming home to practice.  More details at


  1. What about Canadians who came as immigrants and required to fulfil all qualifications and submit all documents to the authority before they could move to Canada as physicians due to shortage of doctors as defined by the government of Canada? What happened to the residency (training positions) positions designated for them by the federal and provincial governments and regulatory bodies? Who got those positions? What happened to them and their families after they arrived in Canada and found themselves in the unbelievable situation where they needed retraining to become doctors and the training positions designated for them went to others who did not qualify as immigrants and who did not move to Canada as physicians with their families and lost everything in the process? These poor immigrant physicians did not have money or political power to convince the justice system in Canada, their new home. Will the justice be ever served to these poor immigrants and their families?

  2. All good questions Dr. Chowdhury. The problems which the Canadians who study medicine abroad complain about apply to immigrant physicians as well. The current system is unfair to all International Medical Graduates.

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