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Are Canadian citizens who graduate from a US allopathic medical school eligible for CMG residency spots in Canada?


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Hi all,

The CaRMS province-specific eligibility criteria indicate that Canadian citizens who graduate from an LCME-accredited medical school (i.e a US allopathic medical school, which grants an MD degree) are eligible for CMG-designated residency spots. For instance, the Ontario eligibility criteria webpage says "A Canadian Medical Graduate or U.S. Medical Graduate (CMG/USMG) is an individual who received their medical degree from a medical school accredited by the Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools (CACMS) or the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). From here on in this will be referred to as a CMG."

However, the R-1 Match report graphs seem to tell a different story, with match results for applicants from US schools not being as favorable as match results for applicants from Canadian schools. For instance, Table 2 shows that only 40 applicants from a US medical school matched into a residency spot in Canada. More troublingly, Table 7 lists the number of CMG participants by school of graduation, and no US medical schools are listed.

The provincial eligility criteria webpages seem discordant with the R-1 Match reports. Given this, could anyone tell me:

  1. If Canadian citizens who graduate from a US allopathic medical school are eligible for CMG-designated residency spots
  2. (Assuming the answer to q1 is yes:) Are there any 'soft barriers' that hinder a Canadian citizen with a US MD degree from matching into a residency spot in Canada? For instance, lack of developing a professional network with Canadian doctors, or something along those lines?

Ultimately what I'm interested in knowing is whether going to a US allopathic medical school would impede my chances at getting a residency spot in Canada.

Thanks for any help! 

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29 minutes ago, striders02 said:

Hi all,

The CaRMS province-specific eligibility criteria indicate that Canadian citizens who graduate from an LCME-accredited medical school (i.e a US allopathic medical school, which grants an MD degree) are eligible for CMG-designated residency spots. For instance, the Ontario eligibility criteria webpage says "A Canadian Medical Graduate or U.S. Medical Graduate (CMG/USMG) is an individual who received their medical degree from a medical school accredited by the Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools (CACMS) or the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). From here on in this will be referred to as a CMG."

However, the R-1 Match report graphs seem to tell a different story, with match results for applicants from US schools not being as favorable as match results for applicants from Canadian schools. For instance, Table 2 shows that only 40 applicants from a US medical school matched into a residency spot in Canada. More troublingly, Table 7 lists the number of CMG participants by school of graduation, and no US medical schools are listed.

The provincial eligility criteria webpages seem discordant with the R-1 Match reports. Given this, could anyone tell me:

  1. If Canadian citizens who graduate from a US allopathic medical school are eligible for CMG-designated residency spots Yes, Canadian citizens graduating from a USMD school are eligible to apply to CMG-designated spots in the first iteration.
  2. (Assuming the answer to q1 is yes:) Are there any 'soft barriers' that hinder a Canadian citizen with a US MD degree from matching into a residency spot in Canada? For instance, lack of developing a professional network with Canadian doctors, or something along those lines? You got it - it's mainly elective-planning and making sure you build those connections.

Ultimately what I'm interested in knowing is whether going to a US allopathic medical school would impede my chances at getting a residency spot in Canada.

Thanks for any help! 

Being USMD you're in a much better shape to match back to Canada than IMGs because you gain access to the CMG-designated spots in the first iteration of the match. An advantage of USMD is that you can extend your F-1 study visa through OPT should you match through NRMP. You can then better transition into a H1B visa. Whereas if you're a CMG, your best bet is a J-1 visa and it's definitely much more restrictive in comparison to a H1B.

The rule still applies: do med school in the country where you see yourself doing residency/further settling in. You may be slightly disadvantaged come CaRMS apps, but you also have benefits as noted above.

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The match rates for USMD are also partially lower because most only apply to top Canadian programs in desirable locations, as why would they rank lower or less desirable programs when they likely have more desirable US programs on their NRMP match list. So a bit of that. Use the search, this exact discussion has happened and you'll find plenty of informative posts :)

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Thanks both for the input, very informative comments! 

@la marzocco:

On 5/18/2018 at 3:28 PM, la marzocco said:

An advantage of USMD is that you can extend your F-1 study visa through OPT should you match through NRMP. You can then better transition into a H1B visa. Whereas if you're a CMG, your best bet is a J-1 visa and it's definitely much more restrictive in comparison to a H1B.

Thanks very much for providing this info. Could you weigh in on whether getting a visa to complete a residency in the US tends to restrict a medical student's options for residency? Some of the research I've done indicates that not all US residency programs are available to Canadian citizens with visas: 

  • For the F-1/H1B route, it seems that an F-1 medical student can only apply to residency programs that a) grant H1B visas, which I've read not all do (due to factors such as the logistical hassle of setting that visa up), and b) are "cap-exempt," whatever that means.
  • For the J1 route, it looks like applicants for a J1 visa need to get a Statement of Need from Health Canada, and Health Canada only gives out a limited number (scroll to table near the bottom) of Statement of Needs on a first-come, first-serve basis for each residency specialty. This seems to pose two potential issues: 1) that Health Canada will offer 0 Statements of Need for the residency program that I end up being interested in, and 2) even if Health Canada does offer Statements of Need for my program of interest, I may be too late in line to actually get a Statement, as others might get it before me. 

Practically speaking, do you know if these "strings attached" constitute a large barrier for Canadian citizens looking for US residency, or are these fairly small concerns that normally don't pose a problem?

@JohnGrisham:

On 5/19/2018 at 1:42 AM, JohnGrisham said:

The match rates for USMD are also partially lower because most only apply to top Canadian programs in desirable locations, as why would they rank lower or less desirable programs when they likely have more desirable US programs on their NRMP match list. So a bit of that. Use the search, this exact discussion has happened and you'll find plenty of informative posts :)

Thanks! The search turned up a bunch of useful threads. Could I just run my understanding by you, let me know if you broadly agree/disagree with my conclusion from looking through past threads:

  • Canadian citizen USMG applying to Canada for residency: eligible for CMG residency spots and theoretically equally competitive as graduates from Canadian medical schools. However, one practical difficulty is getting elective placements in Canadian hospitals during one's time at a US medical school. Lack of elective placements at Canadian hospitals decreases competitiveness due to a lack of networking (e.g. you're less able to get to know physicians in the program you want to match to), lack of Canadian references, etc.
  • Canadian citizen USMG applying to US for residency: need either a J1 or H1B visa. Health Canada issues a limited number of J1 visas for certain specialties, and not all hospitals are willing to set up H1B visas.

So overall, it looks like going to a US med school as a Canadian leaves you in a "kind of crappy" position for residency prospects in both countries - in Canada you lack professional networking and in the US you have limited options due to visa constraints. Could you let me know your thoughts on that conclusion? 

Thanks so much! 

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40 minutes ago, striders02 said:

Thanks both for the input, very informative comments! 

@la marzocco:

Thanks very much for providing this info. Could you weigh in on whether getting a visa to complete a residency in the US tends to restrict a medical student's options for residency? Some of the research I've done indicates that not all US residency programs are available to Canadian citizens with visas: 

  • For the F-1/H1B route, it seems that an F-1 medical student can only apply to residency programs that a) grant H1B visas, which I've read not all do (due to factors such as the logistical hassle of setting that visa up), and b) are "cap-exempt," whatever that means.
  • For the J1 route, it looks like applicants for a J1 visa need to get a Statement of Need from Health Canada, and Health Canada only gives out a limited number (scroll to table near the bottom) of Statement of Needs on a first-come, first-serve basis for each residency specialty. This seems to pose two potential issues: 1) that Health Canada will offer 0 Statements of Need for the residency program that I end up being interested in, and 2) even if Health Canada does offer Statements of Need for my program of interest, I may be too late in line to actually get a Statement, as others might get it before me. 

Practically speaking, do you know if these "strings attached" constitute a large barrier for Canadian citizens looking for US residency, or are these fairly small concerns that normally don't pose a problem?

@JohnGrisham:

Thanks! The search turned up a bunch of useful threads. Could I just run my understanding by you, let me know if you broadly agree/disagree with my conclusion from looking through past threads:

  • Canadian citizen USMG applying to Canada for residency: eligible for CMG residency spots and theoretically equally competitive as graduates from Canadian medical schools. However, one practical difficulty is getting elective placements in Canadian hospitals during one's time at a US medical school. Lack of elective placements at Canadian hospitals decreases competitiveness due to a lack of networking (e.g. you're less able to get to know physicians in the program you want to match to), lack of Canadian references, etc.
  • Canadian citizen USMG applying to US for residency: need either a J1 or H1B visa. Health Canada issues a limited number of J1 visas for certain specialties, and not all hospitals are willing to set up H1B visas.

So overall, it looks like going to a US med school as a Canadian leaves you in a "kind of crappy" position for residency prospects in both countries - in Canada you lack professional networking and in the US you have limited options due to visa constraints. Could you let me know your thoughts on that conclusion? 

Thanks so much! 

One of the practical issues for getting a H1B visa as an CMG is that you can only qualify for a H1B visa once you've written Step 3 of the USMLEs and you're not allowed to write Step 3 until your MD is granted. This becomes an issue as CaRMS/NRMP happens during 4th year so you can't write Step 3 until April/May when you convocate. This logistic issue means that even if you secure a residency in the US and H1B is "viable" you can't qualify for that visa until you write Step 3, which would set back your residency start date from when everyone starts residency. 

I think the SON aspect of J1 visas could become an issue depending if you are hoping to get into a speciality for which Health Canada does not specify as a need. I read an article where someone nearly got hung out to dry by Health Canada because of this SON aspect: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/medical-student-denied-statement-of-need-1.4609500 Luckily, I think it worked out for her after all. It's just things like these do happen.. albeit relatively rare.

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