FAQ Part 2

Hi everyone!

I know this is supposed to be a Medical Monday post but I won’t have time tomorrow. I have officially moved to my new city & I begin my first day at my family medicine residency program on Monday! Super exciting and I am also nervous! The agenda: pick up our ID badges, do our mask fitting, orientation, computer training and go to clinic in the afternoon! I am not going to lie, this feels unreal. I almost half expect someone at orientation to pop out from the bushes and say “fooled you!”

I will write about my PRP 2 experience on another post. Today is about answering the rest of your questions, so let’s get right to it!

If you missed part 1: FAQ Part 1.

Disclaimer: The views expressed are my own and do not reflect the views of the program that I matched at.

Q) Could I learn more about your story? Where did you study in Europe? Did you do undergrad in Canada? And, how do you recommend prepping for the MCC exams?

Of course! To give you a brief background about me: I grew up in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Did all my schooling (including undergraduate) in Canada and then moved to Poland for medical school! The schooling in Poland was all in English, my final two years of clinical rotations were in the United States. Since graduating in 2011 I have tried so many avenues to match! (Canadian board exams, USMLE exams, volunteering, research, clinical traineeships….). I have even written the GRE to get into a Masters program & also the Canadian Armed Forces aptitude exam to apply for the MOTP (Medical Officer Training Program) Surge in the previous year.

Instead of re-writing everything I would kindly request you to click on the links below to know more about my journey :).

You can learn all about my journey here & here.

What I have learned from this whole journey is, don’t give up. You may have to knock on so many doors but something will work out when you are persistent.

Q) Tell me about PRP 1?

PRP 1 stands for Pre – residency Program Part 1. This is a program that international medical graduates who matched into an Ontario residency program (regardless of specialty) have to complete before moving onto PRP 2, held at the residency program. Once PRP 1 & 2 are complete, then you begin residency.

In previous years, part 1 was completed at Touchstone Institute in downtown Toronto but this year due to COVID and social distancing the lectures were held online and we completed it from the comfort of our home. PRP 1 was three weeks long for family medicine residents and two weeks for other specialties.

The lectures were via Zoom links, held from 9 am to 3 pm with breaks in between. We have to participate in these lectures (group/video/audio discussions or through chat). On some days there are optional lectures to attend by the Ontario Medical Association or PARO (Professional Association of Residents of Ontario) etc.

At the end of the week there are quizzes from all the lectures/presentations.
There are also assignments to be completed after each lecture. We must finish these before we can complete PRP 1.

The first two weeks were general topics such as: Indigenous populations, LGBTQ health, prescribing in ontario, sexual history taking, on call skills etc. The last week was specific to family medicine residents, so those who matched into other specialties did not attend the final week of lectures.

We did get paid for PRP 1.

Q) How did you find a clinical trainee opportunity. I was wondering how exactly you did to find yours?

I came across the BC clinical traineeship by chance actually! Here: https://www.cpsbc.ca/for-physicians/registration-licensing/applying/imgs/clinical-observer

I was years out of graduation and in Ontario I only got to do observerships that didn’t allow me to work with patients. This was quite frustrating! I was eligible to be a trainee in BC and then cold called many physicians at various clinics and finally found one who would take me on as a clinical trainee at their family medicine clinic. Through working with this physician I was able to network with others and work at other clinics & hospitals as well. After I joined I found out that the BC College of Physicians actually has a list of names of physicians who take trainees! The list may be slightly outdated though, but it doesn’t hurt to email them and ask them for this list of names.

Just be persistent, someone is bound to say yes. The clinical traineeship for IMGs is very common in BC, so it will be rare to come across a physician who does not know about this.

Q) I was wondering if you have some tips or any type of orientation. MCCQE1?

For my MCCQE1 I studied using: Medical Training Express (MTE), Toronto Notes, USMLE World Step 2 question bank.

I was struggling in my preparation with this examination and needed someone to guide me through high yield topics. I invested in the Live MCCQE1 Course. What I liked about this course was they had residents from Canadian universities lecturing on important topics, going through questions and answers. They used the Toronto Notes text book. If I had any questions after the lecture I can shoot them an email and they would respond right away.

As for the CDM portion, if I remember correctly (I took this course several years ago), MTE went over common CDM questions and how to answer them. It was extremely helpful to me because I had many questions – how to answer it? What was right and what was wrong? They were able to give me clarifications and answer my questions.

I earned a small compensation for leaving a testimonial on their website but I don’t earn compensation for writing about them on my blog. I feel strongly about their courses because I they prepares me well for my exams (MCCQE1 and NAC.)

I would suggest you email them and request free access to a pre-recorded class. It will give you an idea of how they teach and what topics they go through.

I personally did not use this because it was not available to me when I was preparing for the QE1, but the MCC website has prep materials you can use. It is on discount right now: https://mcc.ca/examinations/mccqe-part-i/preparation-resources/test-your-knowledge/

Q)  What is the cutoff score for family med or Psychiatry.

Please read: FAQ Part 1

I was able to collaborate with a resident who matched into Psychiatry for this answer. I answered the family medicine part of this to the best of my ability.

Additionally, there is information about those wanting to match into Peds and PM&R.

Q) Would I be required to do the English exams? 

This differs from province to province & program to program. I would make sure to read up on your specific program requirements on the CaRMS Program description website: https://www.carms.ca/program-descriptions/

I applied last year with a letter from my medical school’s Dean’s office stating that all my schooling was done in English. This was enough for the programs I applied to in family medicine. Or you can go onto the World Directory of Medical Schools site, look up your school and use this documentation to prove that your schooling was all in English.

If you do not meet any of these criteria that your schooling was completed in English then you have to write the English exam (IELTS), which I believe is only valid for two years. Please check the program descriptions and what they require from applicants as they change from year to year.

Q) Master the NAC is a good resource for NAC OSCE. If you could tell me, what resources did you use to study for the NAC? Anything specific that you’d recommend? 

I did not use Master the NAC for preparing for my exam.

The resources I used were:

  • Medical Training Express (MTE) & their notes
  • OSCE & Clinical Handbook by Dr. Katrina Hurley
  • NAC OSCE A Comprehensive Review by Canadaprep (Be careful with this book because it is outdated and has mistakes)
  • Lots & lots of practice with my colleagues!! This was very important because MTE classes were conducted online and we were not able to practice physical examinations. We used the cases from MTE notes and from NAC OSCE comprehensive review, practiced in timed mode and gave each other feedback. This was so valuable.

Q) Would you recommend doing clinical in BC? How long would you recommend that for?

Yes I would highly recommend doing the clinical traineeship in BC, because

  • You get a trainee license from the College of Physicians of BC to actually work with physicians and patients (not just observing but actually doing a history and physical)…experience!
  • keeps you up to date with your skills, knowledge & with the latest guidelines in Canada
  • helps you network with physicians and other health care professionals
  • you may get letters of recommendations from physicians (proving your experience working in the Canadian health care system)
  • this is seen as valid recent “clinical experience” in BC and in Ontario! In your CaRMS application and during your interview this is very important to talk about.
  • I believe you can do this traineeship for a max of three years. If you are out of province and moved to BC just for this traineeship it can be financially difficult. I would say for this experience to be meaningful a minimum of 6 months is recommended

Q) Applying for Canadian residency (actually from scratch) and what their major expectations are (for eg. scores or year of graduation etc.)

There are a lot of steps when it comes to applying for a Canadian residency It is quite lengthy for me to type up and I would definitely miss out on crucial steps as I applied quite a while ago. I would advise you to look at the MCC & Physiciansapply websites for this information & please contact them with questions as they are very helpful:

In regards to scores/years of graduation for various specialties, I would request you to go through the CaRMS programs descriptions website. I have some information on my previous FAQ Part 1. I also like browsing through the discussions on RxPG.

Q)  I am only interested in pathology and do not have the best scores in any of those exams. I have this question for which, I can’t get an answer on any forum. How important is the NAC score for pathology applicants? 

I am sorry, at the moment I do not have any information for pathology. I will see if I can find a resident who has matched into pathology and get the answer from them. Or if someone reading this has information it would be very helpful if you can type a comment below or send me a private message that I can share with my readers.

Q) How tough/competitive it is for an IMG to match into a canadian program? Specialty being surgery/IM?

Same as above, unfortunately I have not met anyone yet from IM or Surgery. I will continue to find this information but if there is anyone who can help me with please send me a message.

There was a discussion previously on RxPG about someone matching into surgery. This may be helpful.


Thank you for your questions everyone! I hope this was helpful, you can always feel free to send me more questions and I will make the time to type up another FAQ post if it helps you.

For the questions I could not answer, I will continue to look for these answers from legit sources or if anyone else can help me out with this I (& others) would be very grateful!

As always,

I wish you Peace, Health & Happiness !

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