Medical Education in Canada

This month, ACP IMpact focuses on medical students studying internal medicine in Canada. There are seventeen medical schools in Canada including three French schools (Laval, Montreal, Sherbrooke) and one school with bilingual instruction (Ottawa). These medical schools serve a population of 37.59 million. Although medical school is typically four years long, two of the seventeen programs have three-year curricula (Calgary, McMaster).

For 2020, there are 462 first year internal medicine spots offered through the CaRMS, the Canadian Resident Matching Service (equivalent to the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) in the US) across accredited programs in Canada.

Following medical school graduation, residents complete three years of internal medicine training, in addition to two to three years of additional training if they wish to subspecialize. All the medical specialties, except Neurology and Dermatology require completion of the three years internal medicine before proceeding to specialty training.

The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, the certifying organization for physicians in Canada, launched the Competency by Design approach in July 2019 to transition post-medical school training to a competency-based system involving the equivalent of milestones and entrustable professional activities (EPAs) for assessment of progress used in the US.

The Royal College internal medicine examination is given following the third year of residency training. The examination consists of a written and an oral examination as well as an assessment of training.

Most primary care in Canada is provided by family physicians, with general internists functioning more as consultants or providing hospital-based care (“hospitalists”). However, given increased patient complexity, more general internists will be needed in the future.


  1. Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
  2. Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS).
  3. IVYGlobal.

Back to the January 2020 issue of ACP IMpact