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The Canada Question

Canadian Citizens Applying to U.S. Schools

U.S. medical schools vary in terms of whether they classify Canadian students as international students or not. Penn State, George Washington, Albert Einstein, Medical College of Wisconsin, and Yale all view Canadian citizens the same way as U.S. citizens. Many other schools classify Canadians as international students.  To see an accurate list of schools which accept International students, as well as additional list of schools which accept Canadian applicants, see the International Students page of the Pre-Prof. website. When in doubt, check the Medical School Admissions Requirements or the website of the particular program.

Regarding financial information, Canadian citizens must complete a Financial Certificate at the time of interview showing sufficient funds to pay for your educational expenses. The process to obtain a student visa from a US consulate abroad usually takes at least 3-4 months.

Canadian Citizens Applying to U.S. Osteopathic Medical Schools

One special connection for Canadian students applying to Michigan State University – College of Osteopathic Medicine (MSU-COM) is a wonderful pipeline program established specifically for Canadian students. Please find the link at: http://www.com.msu.edu/Admissions/Canadian%20Initiative.pdf. This initiative has been so successful, that the Canadian Osteopathic Association has on its’ website a site devoted to the Canadian Osteopathic Medical Student Association!   

Canadian Citizens Applying to Canadian Schools

Canada has 17 medical schools and of these, 3 have French as a first language for instruction. They range widely in terms of class size (55-256), location, area of focus, and other factors.  In 2006-2007, more than 10,000 Canadians applied to medical schools in Canada and 26.2 % were accepted.  This speaks to the competitiveness of the application process as well as the smaller number of Canadian medical schools. 

Generally, medical students in Canadian medical schools begin their studies after receiving a bachelor's degree in another field, often one of the biological sciences. However, not all medical schools in Canada require a bachelor's degree for entry. For example, Quebec's medical schools accept applicants after a two-year CEGEP diploma, which is the equivalent of other provinces' grade 12 plus the first year of university. Most faculties of medicine in Western Canada require at least 2 years, and most faculties in Ontario require at least 3 years of university study before application can be made to medical school. The University of Manitoba requires applicants to complete a prior degree before admission. The Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC) publishes a detailed guide to admission requirements of Canadian faculties of medicine on a yearly basis. The 2010 guide is available at http://www.afmc.ca/pdf/2010AdBk.pdf.

Admission offers are made by individual medical schools, generally on the basis of a personal statement, autobiographical sketch, undergraduate record (GPA), scores on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), and interviews. Volunteer work is often an important criterion considered by admission committees. Medical schools in Quebec (Francophones and Anglophone alike), the University of Ottawa (a bilingual school), and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, do not require the MCAT. Some schools, such as the University of Toronto and Queen's University, use the MCAT score as a cut-off, where sub-standard scores compromise eligibility. Other schools, such as the University of Western Ontario, give increasing preference to higher performance. McMaster University strictly utilizes the Verbal Reasoning section of the MCAT to determine interview eligibility and admission rank. 

Handling of Letters of Recommendation

Canadian medical schools do not have a central application service that will accept letters of reference (they typically do not use the term “recommendation”) and distribute to participating medical schools. However, all Canadian medical schools in Ontario use the Ontario Medical School Application Services (OMCAS).  Medical schools in other provinces in Canada vary considerably in how they request and handle letters of reference and the information is not readily apparent at some schools.  To the best of our knowledge, letters of reference at Canadian medical schools are handled as follows:

1.     Ontario Medical School Application Services (OMSAS).  All Canadian medical schools in Ontario use OMSAS.  The service requires 3 letters of reference, all of which require the completion of an assessment checklist forwarded to the recommender by OMSAS. If you choose, one of the letters may be your Committee letter (not including your individual letters)or an individual letter from an advisor in the Pre-Prof. Office. If one of these options is pursued, the other two letters must be from two recommenders. Your recommenders will not use veCollect.  They will receive an email from OMSAS requesting that they complete an online checklist, attach their letter of reference (on stationary), and return to OMSAS. Finally, pleases note that, Applicants to Ottawa, Queen’s and Toronto should note that their Confidential Assessment Forms must be received at OMSAS by December 1 in order for their application to be considered.”  The OMSAS instruction booklet can be found at: http://www.ouac.on.ca/docs/omsas/b_omsas_e.pdf

2.     The University of British Columbia.  According to the Q&A page on the UBC medical school admissions page, “applicants granted interviews are required to find one community, one academic, and one additional community, academic, or professional contact to complete a specific electronic reference form.”  For more information, go to: http://www.med.ubc.ca/education/md_ugrad/MD_Undergraduate_Admissions/Frequently_Asked_Questions.htm#Transcripts-A8

3.     The University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry.  According to their admissions website, “The University of Alberta requires two (2) letters of reference.  When you complete the Secondary Medicine Application you will provide the name, address, phone number and email address of your two referees. The referees will be contacted by email and will submit a letter of reference electronically as per the instructions they receive.”  For more information, go to: http://ume.med.ualberta.ca/ProspectiveLearners/MDAdmissions/NonAcademicCriteria/Pages/default.aspx#ReferenceLetters

4.     McGill University Faculty of Medicine.  According their admissions website, “Applicants are required to ensure that three (no more, no less) referees complete a secured web-based report before the relevant submission deadline.  Letters of reference and other paper formats are no longer the regularly accepted medium.”  However, it is also stated, ""Where applicable, a pre-medical advisory committee report may be used as an acceptable substitute.  If such is your case, do not enter any names in the MedOAS system.  The Committee package should be sent directly from a Committee representative or coordinator either by post-mail or e-mail to our office. The Admissions Committee will base its review on an aggregated report of referee responses."

5.     Others.  Other medical schools in Canada (e.g., Dalhousie) will have school specific instructions on their website that you must follow.  Do your best to investigate and let us know how we can assist!

Other Resources

The Ontario Medical Schools Application Service (OMSAS) is the centralized application service for applying to Ontario Medical Schools.

The the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC) represents Canada’s 17 faculties of medicine and is the voice of academic medicine in this country. For more admissions-related statistics, please visit the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada's statistics page.

The Association also publishes an annual guide to the Admissions Requirements of each Canadian medical school.

There have been several studies done about Canadian physicians here in the U.S. (for example - http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/content/full/176/8/1083), including looking at where they went to medical school.  According to the studies, nearly half (47.8% [5761/12, 040]) of the Canadian-educated physicians in the United States graduated from 3 Canadian medical schools: McGill University, the University of Toronto and the University of Manitoba.  While these seem to be the most popular schools for Canadians hoping to come to the U.S. to practice, all of the Canadian schools offer a solid medical education. Here are a few more resources:

American and Other Foreign Citizens Applying to Canadian Medical Schools

It is extremely difficult to gain admission to a Canadian medical school if you are not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. In 2006-7, 233 Americans applied and only 9.9% were accepted.  During that same time period, 426 applicants from non-U.S. foreign countries applied and only 5.6% were accepted. For additional information on this issue, please visit the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada's statistics page.

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