Are you interested to pursue a residency in Canada? Well, it is a challenging task and needs a lot of hard work and preparation to find a match. In this blog, you will get some important tips on how you can successfully match into a top Canadian medical residency program.

In Canada, there are presently approximately 13000 doctors who are not working and trying to get into a residency programme. That is a huge number so of course the competition is tough. 

Canada has estimated that they will be short of approximately 44000 doctors by 2028. This is a piece of good news for IMGs. In Canada overall approximately 25% i.e. one in four doctors are IMGs. But there is a huge problem that IMGs can only apply to 300-400 seats every year through CARMS matching which is of course very low. And on top of it, 80% of IMGs do not match. 

If we compare this with Canadian Medical Graduates only less than 5% of them do not match into the residency program so that means if you are an IMG you have to work really hard. 

Some of the tips you can follow to match into a residency program –

Make MCCQE1 a priority

If you want to get into a top Canadian residency program as an International Medical Graduate (IMG), focus on getting high scores on the MCCQE1 exam. While Canadian medical graduates may aim for passing scores, as an IMG, it's crucial to aim for exceptionally high scores. High scores show you have a strong medical knowledge foundation and make you a standout candidate. Viewing things from a program director's perspective can boost your chances of success. Aim for scores above 260, ideally, 280 or higher, to impress the program directors and increase your chances of acceptance.

Create Your Letter of Intent as a Story

Create your letter of intent for Canadian residency programs as an engaging story. Grab the program director's attention with a powerful opening that makes them eager to read the whole letter. Avoid starting with ordinary details that might lose their interest. Instead, impress them with your exceptional qualities and background. Share your specialized skills and unique attributes to leave a lasting impact on the program director. This captivating approach can significantly increase your chances of being matched successfully.

Turn your weaknesses into strengths by presenting them positively.

In your personal statement, talk about any weak points positively. For example, if you lack research experience, explain how the program you're applying to can help you learn and contribute. Show your willingness to grow and be an asset to the program's research efforts. This approach demonstrates your self-awareness and eagerness to adapt and learn.

Medical Student Performance Records should stand out

The Dean's letter, known as the Medical School Performance Record (MSRP), is important for your Canadian Residency program application. Getting an exceptional letter from your Dean is important, even though not all Deans may be willing to write them. Additionally, having a letter from your specialization, even from your home country, can boost your application. It doesn't have to be from a high-ranking person, but someone who can talk about your clinical knowledge and experiences. This is especially important for surgical specialities, where your clinical work is valued. Prioritize getting a strong Dean's letter and consider getting one from your specialization to strengthen your application.

Be an excellent Medical Student

As a medical student aiming for a top Canadian Residency program, excelling in your medical school or college is very important. Achieving higher scores and receiving awards will make you stand out as an outstanding candidate. Residency programs look for candidates with excellent clinical knowledge and skills, who can handle their duties efficiently. To create a strong application, ensure you have your transcripts ready, as they provide valuable insights into your academic performance. Participating in clerkships or observer ships can also enhance your profile. By showcasing your achievements and dedication to excellence, you increase your chances of becoming an outstanding candidate for the residency program.

Obtain and showcase research experience

Research experience can be valuable for IMGs seeking to match into Canadian residency programs. However, it is important to keep a few key factors in mind. Productivity is very important if you choose a research fellowship, as you should aim for achievements like presentations, and publications. Maintaining a balance between research and clinical skills is also necessary, as residency involves direct patient care. By being productive in research and staying connected to clinical practice, you become a well-rounded candidate for matching into a residency program.

Consider applying to several programs.

While applying to several Canadian programs can be time-consuming and costly, it is important not to limit yourself to just a few choices. Extending your options increase your chances of matching successfully. However, be careful and review each application carefully to avoid mistakes. Taking the time to be complete and correct will improve your chances of finding the perfect residency match. 

Develop your network in Canada

When moving to Canada, build a strong network by being proactive. Visit hospitals, talk to people, and search for job opportunities. Finding paid jobs and top residency programs may be challenging due to competition, so explore volunteer positions and connect with people independently. Be proactive, showcase your skills, and connect with supportive individuals. Your initiative and determination will lead to success in Canada.

Make sure to have a letter from your specialized training

When applying for a residency program in Canada after completing your sub-speciality training, include a letter of recommendation from your specialized field. This letter highlights your expertise and clinical experience, making your application stronger. Program directors review all aspects of IMG applications, so it is important to stand out among other applicants. 

Avoid thinking from the perspective of an IMG

Shift your perspective from being an IMG and highlight your unique value. Focus on your skills, experiences, and fresh perspectives in your application to stand out. Showcase your worth to program directors for a better chance of matching into top residency programs in Canada. Accept your diverse expertise and confidently present your unique attributes to secure a spot in a program.

The quota for International Medical Graduates

Canada follows a quota system for International Medical Graduates (IMGs). Please refer to the following table to have a full idea. Source


As discussed earlier, getting into a Canadian medical residency program is not easy. You need to keep in mind and follow all the tips that discussed before. And also keep in mind that IMGs (International Medical Graduates) face significant challenges due to limited seats and quotas in Canada. The chances of selection are very low. If your goal is to settle in Canada, MOKSH suggests considering doing your Postgraduate studies in the USA or India. After completing your PG, you can take the Qualifying Exam and gain direct registration to practice in Canada. Pursuing a Clinical PG in Canada is a lengthy process with no guarantee of success, so it's essential to explore other options for achieving your career goals.