Competency Assessments

Part of the accelerated route to registration for international medical graduates

Getting physicians into Alberta communities faster

In 2023, CPSA launched a pilot program to provide an additional route to practice for international medical graduates (IMGs).

The traditional registration route for IMGs involves a two-part Practice Readiness Assessment: a three-month Preliminary Clinical Assessment (working under the direct observation in the medical practice of a CPSA-approved assessor), followed by a three-month Supervised Practice Assessment, where the physician practises independently in their community.

IMGs who meet the requirements for the pilot program are exempt from the Preliminary Clinical Assessment and can proceed directly to the Supervised Practice Assessment. This allows them to begin practising and providing patient care in their communities sooner.

What are Competency Assessments?

To ensure patients are receiving high-quality care, physicians who enter practice in Alberta through this accelerated registration route are required to undergo two Competency Assessments. The first assessment takes place four-to-six months after successful completion of the Supervised Practice Assessment (SPA), with a follow-up assessment 12-to-18 months later.


Competency Assessments are a cost-recovery program totalling $20,000, which is the responsibility of the physician being assessed. Physicians are encouraged to discuss with Alberta Health Services whether such costs are covered under the terms of their sponsorship.

What to expect

Competency Assessments are completed by CPSA’s Continuing Competence team, who work collaboratively with the physician to provide customized feedback and targeted support as needed. The assessments include the following:

  1. The physician will be asked to complete a practice overview questionnaire, to provide details on their current practice.
  2. Trained physicians act as competency assessors. If there is a conflict of interest, the physician being assessed will have the opportunity to make a conflict of interest declaration.
  3. There will be an introductory meeting with a CPSA Senior Medical Advisor (SMA), who will guide the physician thought the assessment process.
  4. The assessment is conducted either in-person or remotely, using a variety of tools. The three components of the assessment include:
    • A patient record review, where the assessor reviews 20-30 patient records to ensure alignment with CPSA’s Standards of Practice, as well as thoroughness of patient histories and physical examinations.
    • A chart-stimulated discussion with the assessor, to review a minimum of five patient records to gain a greater understanding of the physician’s management strategy.
    • The assessor will also review office and facility processes with the office manager (if applicable).
    • Once the steps outlined above are complete, the assessor will provide CPSA’s SMA with a report of their findings. The SMA will set up a time to review the results of the assessment with the physician, to share strengths and discuss opportunities for improvement. Education or remediation might be recommended, depending on the assessment results.

The follow-up assessment will take place 12-to-18 months after the initial assessment, following the same process as the first assessment outlined above. The purpose of the follow up is to ensure the physician’s performance continues to meet expectations and recommended improvements from the first assessment have been implemented.

What’s next?

Assessment results are shared with CPSA’s Registration team. After successfully completing the Competency Assessments, physicians will remain on the provisional register for three years before being considered for the general register. If a physician does not successfully complete their Competency Assessments, a summative assessment might be required.


All FAQs

Why are Competency Assessments part of the accelerated route to registration for IMGs?

If you are eligible for the accelerated route to registration for IMGs, you will need to participate in Competency Assessments after you have successfully completed your supervised practice assessment. This is one of the ways CPSA ensures patients are receiving safe, high-quality care.

Am I eligible for the accelerated route to registration for IMGs?

IMGs from approved jurisdictions who meet CPSA’s other registration requirements may be eligible for the accelerated route to registration. CPSA’s registration team reviews physician applications to determine their eligibility.

How can I apply for the accelerated route to registration for IMGs?

Physicians don’t apply directly for this route to registration. Your first step is to apply for independent practice. Our registration team will then review your application and let you know which route to registration you qualify for.

Questions about Competency Assessments?

Phone: 780-969-4922
1-800-561-3899, ext. 4922 (in Canada)

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