The Challenge of Pursuing a Medical License in Canada


Dr. Raissi came to Canada in 2004 with her husband and daughter of 6 months. Back in Iran, she worked as a general practitioner for 10 years and was a director of a clinic. Currently she works as a preceptor in the department of family medicine, as well as a side medical lead at the Sheldon Chumir family practice clinic.

Since leaving Iran, Dr. Raissi always knew that she wanted to continue her pursuit of medicine in Canada. When she first landed, she did a lot of research to become familiar with resources available to her. At the time, she accessed resources such as AIMGA and MCAP through the University of Calgary. In 2007, Dr. Raissi took the MCAP course, which provided training in communications for physicians, as well helped her in writing a resume, cover letter etc. At AIMGA, they offered study groups, support groups, mock interviews, and even textbooks.

Some challenges she experienced in her journey was that there were many international medical graduates in Canada, meaning greater competition. In order to overcome this, she was ready and willing to go anywhere in Canada for residency. If she did not get offered a spot in Canada, she would be ready to move to the USA or switch into radiology.

After passing her exams and completing her communications course through MCAP, at the time AIMG was doing residency matching, and she received invitations for interviews at both University of Calgary and University of Toronto. Eventually, she was offered a position in Calgary and accepted the residency.

If Dr. Raissi were to give advice to newcomers, it would be this: “Be flexible, learn the values and cultures that you are able to offer, and learn to work with local Canadians. Be positive, prepared, and work hard on the English language. Be realistic about expectations, and flexible. Have a plan B, but don’t give up!”