Last Updated on January 24, 2019
Anupam Apu is good enough to be an immigrant but not a doctor. He is one of over 6,000 international medical graduates in Ontario dealing with the daily frustration of knowing their chances of becoming practising doctors are slim to none.
The 36-year Bangladesh native thought that when he ticked the box for general physician as a preferred career on his immigration application, he would have a chance to continue in his field.
Both Apu and his wife, also a medical graduate from Bangladesh, soon found the deck was stacked against them because of the limited number of international medical graduates certified annually for medical residency positions in Ontario. Before leaving for Canada almost four years ago, Apu said he was in the early stages of training in neurosurgery.
Apu’s story resonates for “a lot of folks out there,” said Ontario fairness commissioner Jean Augustine. She has been urging the Liberal government to consider a “practice ready assessment” system similar to the ones in Alberta and Newfoundland, where foreign-trained doctors get a provisional licence and work under supervision to determine their level of competence.
Augustine’s dismay with the current system of certifying foreign-trained doctors follows an announcement earlier in the week in which the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario reported the highest number yet of international medical graduates being certified for full practice or residency. However, Augustine noted the college failed to mention the majority of the 200 provincially funded residency positions are going to Canadian students who trained abroad and returned to launch their careers, which she said was never the program’s intent.
Apu, who graduated with a bachelor of medicine and surgery, said he and his wife made inquiries soon after arriving but quickly learned it would cost $4,000 or more to take four exams before being able to apply to the international medical graduate program. And even then there were no guarantees. Despite Ontario’s seemingly impervious system, Apu said he still feels there is a place for him and will write the eligibility exams if he can find the money.
Foreign-trained doctors coming to Canada often end up with a “sense of betrayal,” said Tanya Chute Molina, a program adviser in the fairness commissioner’s office.
Attorney Colin Singer Commentary:
This reflects the variance in provincial regulation of the professions. Certain provinces such as Newfoundland and Alberta are easier to secure temporary licensing than Ontario. However the cost of becoming Board Certified is becoming a barrier to entry for many applicants.
Source: The Star