Want to Save Lives? Here's What It Takes to Become a Doctor in Canada
Author: Kailey Guillemin
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Who doesn’t want to save a life? That has to be an incredible feeling when you know that someone is walking on this earth because of you. Does this sound like you? Then you may want to think about becoming a doctor.

Maybe you watch a lot of Grey’s Anatomy and enjoy the excitement (let’s ignore all the Kleenex that end up on the ground after each episode) that you see on television (even though you know most of that is exaggerated). Who wouldn’t want to be the next Meredith Grey or McDreamy?

Have you thought about what it takes to become a doctor in Canada though? It’s a serious amount of work. I have a girlfriend who’s gone through a good chunk of the process to become a surgeon and let me tell you, the amount of work she does is incredible.

Since you’ll have tons of work in the near future, I gathered some information for you on what it takes to become a doctor in Canada.


Get a University Degree

Before you can begin training to become a doctor, you need a university degree of some sort. At a minimum, you must obtain a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university.

Not sure what to get? A science degree will likely be more beneficial than an arts degree. Don’t think that a science degree will give you a better chance of getting accepted into medical school. Instead, it will help you when you have to continue studying anatomy, biology, and chemistry.


Volunteer at the Local Hospital

Volunteer work always looks good on a resume, so why not add some medical volunteer work to yours? It’ll likely help you when you apply for medical school.

Talk with your local hospital and clinic to see if there are any volunteer jobs you could take. Look for something that will actually help you with your career choice, rather than something like cleaning the bathrooms. Sometimes, though, you have to take what you can get.


Apply for Medical School

Applying for medical school is not something you should think of last minute. The application process is something you should be thinking about the moment you decide you’re going to be a doctor. It’s a highly competitive field, and they don’t let just anyone in.

Your grades are important, but they aren’t everything. Someone with an average GPA could beat out someone with the highest GPA in their class because due to how they planned out their application package. Applicants should have non-academic activities that show to help improve non-cognitive and emotional skills that are essential for the job.


Take the MCAT Exam

For some universities, applicants must take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). It’s a standardized multiple-choice, computer-based test that’s been around for almost 90 years. The point is to test your skills and knowledge that has been deemed as prerequisites for succeeding in medical school.

Even though it’s a multiple-choice test, don’t let that fool you. Spend time studying the material provided online and only take the test when you feel prepared.


Actually Go to Medical School

So, you have your bachelor’s degree and an acceptance letter to your chosen medical school. Now, it’s time to actually go to school. Don’t think that medical school will be like other university classes you’ve taken in which you can slack off and still pass. You must attend classes and maintain a certain standard to continue through the program.

It’s a four-year program that will require a lot of time and dedication on your part. Make sure you’re ready for it.


Pass Your Licensing Exam

Just because you finished your school doesn’t mean you add M.D. to your name and get to start working at a clinic. You have to pass your licensing exam first.

The Medical Council of Canada Evaluating Examination (MCCEE) will likely be one of the most challenging exams you’ll take throughout the whole process. It tests your knowledge and competency levels. You must prove that you know what you’re doing, can work without supervision, show to have a minimal chance of making a life-threatening mistake, and can work under pressure.


Start and Finish Your Residency

You have a bachelor’s degree, completed your four years at medical school, and passed your licensing exam, now what do you do? It’s time to never sleep again go through your residency program.

The residency program is your chance to put your knowledge to the test and gain invaluable experience. You can’t expect to sit in a classroom, pass a test, and then get to start doctoring patients or cutting people open. You have to get the experience before you can even think about working independently. For a family doctor, the minimum years as a resident is two. However, depending on the type of doctor you want to be, that number will likely increase.


Determine Your Specialty

After you do all of this and start your residency, you’ll want to start thinking about your specialty. What type of doctor do you want to be? Are you thinking of a family doctor, pediatrician, surgeon, gynecologist, or even an orthopedic? You have many options to choose from, so look at ones that interest you the most. Once you have an idea, then those are the doctors you’ll want to shadow the most.


Becoming a doctor in Canada is an intimidating process; there’s no other way to put it. Does that mean it’s impossible? Absolutely not. What it does mean, though, is that you must be willing to put in a ton of hard work, time, and be dedicated entirely to the program.

Imagine if you were seriously sick and required medical attention. Would you want someone who slacked off through most of their medical training and never fully completed the program, or would you rather have the best of the best? The Canadian program is meant to train the best of the best.


About author:
Kailey Guillemin

Kailey graduated with a degree in Journalism and Religious Studies from the University of Regina, Saskatchewan. Now she lives a double life in Manitoba – writer by day and dance teacher by night. When she’s not at her computer, you’ll find her curled up with a glass of red wine and knitting, or obsessively taking photos of her puppy.🐶🐾

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