PA ADMISSIONS • INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL GRADUATES

Can an IMG become a Physician Assistant?

Can International Medical Graduate or FMG become a Physician Assistant in Canada

International Medical Graduates (IMGs) are Physicians who were trained outside of Canada.

Apart from acclimating to a different country, different weather, perhaps a different language and different customs, another challenge IMGs face when arriving in Canada is often ensuring English skills (written and oral) are high enough to meet admission requirements for different health care careers and to find a career that allows IMGs to utilize the skills they have acquired outside of Canada.

There are several options for IMGs, with one of them including becoming a Physician Assistant. I have outlined the PA pathway from an IMG perspective, and have also included other health care career options too.

IMG to PA

IMGs may apply to all 3 PA Programs

To become a Physician Assistant as an IMG, you must complete an accredited Physician Assistant Program in Canada. 

IMGs cannot skip or advance past any aspects of the program due to their prior medical education. To complete a PA program successfully, you must complete both the first didactic year and second clinical rotation year, finishing all courses for the program.

Luckily, the PA program is approximately only 2 years (~24 months), and if you have completed your undergraduate degree, in addition to your graduate degree and with your health care experience, it is likely you qualify to apply to all 3 civilian PA programs in Canada (Manitoba, University of Toronto, and McMaster).

To Apply to a Canadian PA program, you must be a Canadian Citizen or PR of Canada

All PA program candidates must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents in Canada.

A permanent resident is someone who is a citizen of another country, but has immigrated to Canada. Students and workers who are on temporary work visas are not considered permanent residents.

You are not considered a permanent resident or citizen by marriage. Canadian citizens are those that may have been born in Canada, or have a parent born in Canada.

You can also apply to be a Canadian Citizen if you have had Permanent Resident status, and have physically lived in Canada for 1460 days during the six years prior to your Canadian Citizen application with adequate knowledge of English.

Why is this a requirement?

Although I cannot speak on behalf of the 3 PA Programs, keep in mind that obtaining a Canadian PA program degree allows you only to practice in Canada. The Canadian PA degree (BHScPA, BScPA, MPAS) does not allow you to practice as a PA in the United States, UK, Australia or other countries.

Are there any PA programs that accept international students?

There are some PA programs in the United States that accept non-residents/citizens into their programs.

English Language Requirements

The IMG applying for PA programs must meet English language requirements, and this differs for each school.

Once you have completed a Physician Assistant Program, you are to write the PA Entry Exam administered by the Physician Assistant Certification Council of Canada (PACCC).

IMG to Clinical Assistant

Clinical Assistants are health care professionals with background in medicine who work under supervision of a licensed physician in Manitoba.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba have a Clinical Assistant position that is open to IMGs who qualify. Be sure to carefully check the University of Manitoba Clinical Assessment Programs and CPSM websites carefully for the most up to date information on application and assessment criteria.

If you’d like to learn more information, visit the Physician and Clinical Assistants of Manitoba.

IMGs and other Health Care Careers

Many IMGs also consider other allied health professions, such as applying to other professional schools or degree programs such as Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Social Work, Respiratory Therapy, Medical Radiation Technologist, X-Ray/Ultrasound Technician, Lab Technician, Personal Support Worker (PSW), Health Care Aide, Health Policy Researcher/Analyst, Health Care Administrator, Research Assistant / Associate, Athletic therapist, Pharmacy Technician, EMG Technician, the list can go on and on.

This way, the IMG can stay within the field of healthcare and utilize some skills in order to transition to their life here in Canada.

23 Comments

  1. EMMANUEL ACHEAMPONG September 6, 2021 at 1:34 pm - Reply

    Sir,
    Am Emmanuel Acheampong, a degree holder in
    Physician assistantship I would like to have some information on how I can practice in canada.

    Would be grateful to hear from you.
    Thanks.

  2. DR Dhaval Rajpara January 23, 2022 at 2:09 am - Reply

    Hello
    I’m ophthalmologist from India with 10 years of experience in the same
    How can I work as ophthalmic assistant
    What is the procedure

    • Anne Dang January 23, 2022 at 2:00 pm

      Hi! I can only really comment on how to become a PA and work as PA in Canada. Good luck!

  3. Biggles February 16, 2022 at 9:17 pm - Reply

    hello am Biggles, an international medical graduate, i completed my training in china, i do not hold any license can i still apply for PA OR clinical ASSISTANT position. and is there any agency that helps with such applications, if yes i will be humbly pleased if you can share it. thank you very much

    • Anne Dang February 17, 2022 at 3:00 pm

      Hi, PA positions usually require you to be a Canadian Certified Physician Assistant (CCPA) in order to qualify to apply for a PA position. To become a CCPA you have to follow steps outlined here: canadianpa.ca/becomeapa

      I am not sure about Clinical Assistants, you can visit http://pcam.ca to learn more.

  4. Jane March 12, 2022 at 5:10 am - Reply

    Hello! I am General Practitioner in India. To apply to PA programs you must be PR holder or Canadian Citizen. I got married to a canadian PR holder and I have now PR card. Can I apply to these programs ?

    • Anne Dang March 12, 2022 at 5:00 pm

      If you are a Permanent Resident of Canada, it sounds like you may qualify to apply! You can then proceed to https://canadianpa.ca/paprograms and visit the PA program websites to see next steps to take to proceed with application.

      You can also visit https://canadianpa.ca/admissions to see an overview of admission requirements.

  5. Jane March 13, 2022 at 12:58 pm - Reply

    It is highlighted in the text :

    You are not considered a permanent resident or citizen by marriage. Canadian citizens are those that may have been born in Canada, or have a parent born in Canada.

    Please clarify on this…

    Thank you…

  6. Smit May 14, 2022 at 3:16 pm - Reply

    Hello! I am anesthesiologist from India with currently working as assistant professor in medical school. 1) how can i become anesthesia clinical assistant in Canada as img?
    2) what are eligibility criteria or exams for this?
    3) is there any imgs programs for clinical assistant anesthesia?
    4)

  7. Anna June 3, 2022 at 9:48 pm - Reply

    Hello Anne, I am an IMG, finished my training in China. I wish to apply to MPAS program in University of Manitoba but it says only PR or citizens are allowed . So, how will I be able to apply to the program if I can only apply for PR a few years after completion of studies?

    • Anne Dang June 4, 2022 at 8:09 am

      Thanks for your question! You would first have to become a Permanent Resident or Canadian Citizen first before applying, there are no exceptions.

      If you are looking to apply to PA school as an international student, you can see American PA schools as some accept students from other countries.

  8. Ain July 26, 2022 at 1:50 am - Reply

    Hi Anne, first of all thank you for your guidance hughly appreciated..I got my canada PR decision..i m IMG with 4 years experience in general practice from Pakistan..my questions are,
    1. is there any entery test for getting admission in University for PA program?
    2. for english language like ielts OET Tofel etc any ither way i mean any english language classes certification helps?

    • Anne Dang July 26, 2022 at 4:48 pm

      Hi Ain,

      1) No there is no entry test for getting admission in the University of PA Program (e.g. no MCAT, PA-CAT)
      2) I can’t really speak to English Language classes to help obtain good scores on English language tests such as TOEFL.

  9. Harjeet sekhon August 17, 2022 at 5:05 pm - Reply

    Hello …I m graduate with GPA 3.83 in science from India and competed my WES evaluation .and I working in laboratory here in Canada cam I apply for PA course .

  10. Sanjay Kumar Goyal September 10, 2022 at 6:45 am - Reply

    I am an Anaesthesiologist from India with 12 yrs of experience. How I can get a job in Canada?

  11. Sanjay Kumar Goyal September 10, 2022 at 6:45 am - Reply

    I am an Anaesthesiologist from India with 12 yrs of experience. How I can get a job in Canada?

  12. Sanjay Kumar Goyal September 10, 2022 at 6:46 am - Reply

    I am an Anaesthesiologist from India with 13yrs of experience. How I can get a job in Canada?

    • Anne Dang September 13, 2022 at 7:27 am

      I cannot speak to how you can get a job in Canada. In order to apply to Pa programs in Canada, you must become a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident of Canada first.

  13. Masoumeh November 23, 2022 at 11:26 pm - Reply

    Hi
    I got my LMCC and done all of the exams regarding medical council of C
    anada.would I eligible to work as a PA?

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