Applying to practise in Alberta
To practise medicine in Alberta, all physicians have to have a practice permit with CPSA. This starts with an application.
A physician in independent practice can work in medicine within their scope of training, is responsible for their medical practice and does not rely on another physician to oversee any part of their medical practice.
It’s a serious responsibility, and part of CPSA’s job is to confirm you have all the training and credentials needed to enter the workforce and care for Albertans. This page details the 5 steps to get your Independent Practice Permit in Alberta. Review each step carefully before you apply for independent practice.
Step 1—Make sure you meet CPSA's eligibility requirements
These are CPSA minimum requirements and these do not automatically make you eligible for the General Register.
CPSA has the same basic expectations of all applicants, including locums, physicians with Canadian credentials and those with international training. Some of the requirements below apply only to physicians who were trained outside of Canada. This is all part of our commitment to ensuring Albertans get safe and consistent medical care.
- Medical degree from a school listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools
- Proof of English Language Proficiency if you were trained in a country where English is not the first and native language (even if English was the language of instruction). For more on this requirement, visit English Language Proficiency.
- MCCQE Part 1—The Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination Part 1 (MCCQE Part 1) is a national exam offered through MCC to ensure the critical medical knowledge and clinical decision-making ability of an international medical graduate (IMG) is at the level expected of a Canadian medical school graduate. Step 1, Step 2CK and Step 2 CS of the USMLE is equivalent to the MCCQE1.
- Currency of practice—within the last 3 years, you need to have practised independently or been a part of a continuous postgraduate training program for a minimum of 1 year in the discipline you want to enter in Alberta. Fellowship training, community service, public service, national service, Medical Officer posts and practice experience don’t fulfill this requirement.
- Postgraduate training requirements for your discipline. If you are pursuing Family Medicine or General Practice, you need to have completed a continuous Family Medicine postgraduate training program (at least 24 months) including 4 months of community-based primary care and 8 weeks in 3 of the following: pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, surgery and internal medicine. For Specialty Practice you must have successfully completed a specialty residency in Canada or a continuous discipline-specific specialty postgraduate training program of at least 36 or 48 months and equal to Royal College Specialty Training Requirements and have specialist certification.
(NOTE: Fellowship training, community service, public service, national service, Medical Officer posts and practice experience do not satisfy the postgraduate training requirements.)
- Therapeutics Decision Making (TDM) exam if you are a Family Medicine physician who got their training outside of Canada. The TDM exam is the second exam offered through MCC that Family Medicine IMGs take to prove they have the right skills and training to practice in Canada. For more information about the TDM exam, to see the next test dates and to apply for the test, visit our TDM exam page. If your postgraduate training was in USA, UK, Ireland or Australia, you might not have to write the TDM exam. We suggest you first apply to the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) for certification without examination. If CFPC sends you a notice recognizing your training and you meet all the other CPSA eligibility requirements, you can go straight to Step 2—Create an account with physiciansapply.ca.
*NEW* As of October 1, 2020, if you are a Family Medicine physician and you want to join our Provisional Register, you will need to pass the TDM exam and get AHS sponsorship within 1 year of receiving your CPSA eligibility letter. Once you have both, your Registration Administrator will send you a letter outlining which documentation we need before you register for our Provisional Register.
- A criminal record check or police certificate from every jurisdiction you have ever lived (90+ days) within 10 years of your CPSA application or dating back to your 18th birthday. Canadian criminal record checks are nation-wide, so only 1 is required. Although we don’t need it, we will accept a vulnerable sector check if it is a part of your criminal record check.
- Patient Relations education is required under the HPA and mandatory for CPSA registration. On April 1, 2019, the Alberta government approved amendments to the Health Professions Act (HPA) to protect patients. Applicants are provided with a link to complete this training at the applicable stage.
You may also be eligible to apply for a CPSA practice permit through:
- Canadian Free Trade Agreement or New West Partnership Trade Agreement: you must be currently registered and in independent practice in another jurisdiction in Canada. Learn more.
- Full-Time Academic Appointment: you must provide evidence of your appointment offer from the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine in Alberta (University of Alberta or University of Calgary). Learn more.
Step 2—Create an account with physiciansapply.ca
physiciansapply.ca is the tool that all physicians are required to use to apply for practice in Canada. Run by the Medical Council of Canada, physiciansapply.ca standardizes the application process for medical registration in Canada. CPSA only accepts applications through physiciansapply.ca.
Through your physiciansapply.ca account, you can:
- apply for any necessary MCC exams
- view your exam results
- submit your credentials and documents
- have your credentials translated (if they need to be)
- share your credentials and exam results with CPSA or any other medical authority
- submit a Review of Qualifications to CPSA
Step 3—Submit a review of qualifications
Through your physiciansapply.ca account, you need to submit a Review of Qualifications to CPSA. This is our pre-screening process for every applicant to confirm you meet all the eligibility requirements from Step 1. This review costs $200 + GST and is non-refundable. A CPSA Registration Administrator will review:
- which Canadian medical exams you’ve passed (e.g., LMCC, MCCQE1, CCFP, FRCP(C), FRCS(C))
- proof of English language proficiency
- your medical education history
- your postgraduate training
- medical certifications and other qualifications
- practice history
- what type of registration assessments you may have to complete to get your permit
Once we confirm you may be eligible to practise in Alberta, we’ll send you a CPSA Eligibility Letter to let you know what register you may be eligible for and if you require an assessment.
If you are a physician who got their training outside of Canada and is eligible for the CPSA Provisional Register, you will need this eligibility letter to secure AHS sponsorship and employment.
*NEW* As of October 1, 2020, if you are a Family Medicine physician who isn’t eligible for independent practice on the General Register or you do not have Recognized Training and Certification Outside Canada through the CFPC, you must also successfully write and pass the TDM exam in addition to securing AHS sponsorship and employment in Alberta. You will have 1 year from when your CPSA Eligibility Letter is issued to have both AHS sponsorship for employment and successfully pass the TDM exam.
If for some reason you are not eligible, a Registration Administrator will explain why and let you know if there are any next steps.
Step 4—Secure AHS sponsorship and apply to sit the TDM exam (if your credentials are from outside Canada)
If you got your training outside of Canada, you may need to apply for sponsorship with Alberta Health Services (AHS). This sponsorship helps Alberta make sure that new-to-Alberta physicians can enter the workforce while also serving communities that have the highest need for physicians. Start by sending your CPSA Eligibility Letter to AHS to apply for physician jobs in Alberta. If you’re hired through AHS, they will sponsor you.
*NEW* As of October 1, 2020, if you are a Family Medicine physician who isn’t eligible for independent practice on the General Register or you do not have Recognized Training and Certification Outside Canada through the CFPC, you must also successfully write and pass the TDM exam in addition to securing AHS sponsorship and employment in Alberta. You will have 1 year from when your CPSA Eligibility Letter is issued to both secure AHS sponsorship for employment and successfully pass the TDM exam. Once you have both, your Registration Administrator will send you a letter outlining which documentation we need before you register for our Provisional Register.
Step 5—Apply for independent practice
Physicians with international credentials
If you got your training outside of Canada, you’ll begin the process of applying and registering for CPSA’s Provisional Register once your AHS sponsorship is confirmed with us (AHS will send us your sponsorship form) and, for family medicine physicians, once we receive confirmation that you’ve passed the TDM exam. The Provisional Register is a temporary register that gives you time to get your Canadian credentials before joining the CPSA General Register. Once on the Provisional Register, you can practise independently. However, you need to get Canadian credentials within 6 years of practice or undergo a Summative Assessment before being considered for transfer to the General Register. Visit CPSA Registration Assessments for more information.
You’ll need to complete a full application through your physiciansapply.ca account, and provide other required documentation. Your Registration Administrator will be in contact with you throughout the process via email and through CPSA’s tracking system. They’ll let you know what documents are required for registration.
Physicians with Canadian credentials
You’ll need to complete a full application through your physiciansapply.ca account and provide other required documentation. Your Registration Administrator will be in contact with you throughout the process, via email and through CPSA’s tracking system. They’ll let you know what documents are required for registration.
If a Canadian graduate fails a Canadian certifying exam (e.g., LMCC, MCCQE1, CCFP, FRCP(C), FRCS(C)), you may be eligible for CPSA’s Provisional Register and will have to undergo a 3-month Supervised Practice Assessment with sponsorship from Alberta Health Services (AHS). Once on the Provisional Register, physicians can practise independently, but they need to get their Canadian credentials within 6 years of practice or undergo a Summative Assessment before being considered for transfer to the General Register. Visit CPSA Registration Assessments for more information.
Step 6—Pass a Practice Readiness Assessment (if required)
If you are eligible for the Provisional Register, the next step to getting your permit is passing a Practice Readiness Assessment (PRA-AB). This 2-part assessment is the last step we take to make sure you’re ready to practice in Alberta. Over a period of 3 to 6 months, a CPSA-approved assessor will directly observe your clinical competence, review charts and collect feedback from your colleagues, patients and healthcare partners. During the assessment, you will be registered on an Assessment Permit. For more information about PRA-AB, visit CPSA’s Registration Assessments.
Step 7—Get your permit
Once you submit a complete application (including all of your medical credentials and supporting documents), your Registration Administrator will review your file. If everything is in order and you qualify for registration, we’ll follow up to get any final documentation from you or, if an assessment is required at this stage, the CPSA assessment team will make those arrangements. You’ll also need to complete CPSA’s physician orientation, called MyCollege, and pay fees in order to get your CPSA practice permit.
Resources for physicians who got their credentials outside of Canada
The Medical Council of Canada (MCC) has modules to help new-to-Canada physicians learn about Canadian culture, different styles of communication and professional challenges that IMGs can come across. We recommend you complete all the modules to help set your expectations for practising in Canada.
CPSA review panel
If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of your registration application, you are entitled to have our decision on your practice permit reviewed by a 3-person panel of CPSA’s Council. This review process is overseen under Alberta’s Health Professions Act (HPA).
If you’re a physician applying for registration, a practice permit or practice permit reinstatement, you have the option to review:
- a registration decision made by the Registrar or Assistant Registrar
- a practice permit decision made by the Registrar or Assistant Registrar
For more information, visit registration reviews.
To see more FAQs about Registration, click on All FAQs and filter by "Registration"All FAQs
Are there any TDM exam exemptions?
Yes, Family Medicine physicians who have Recognized Training and Certification Outside Canada through the CFPC may be exempt from writing the TDM exam. To get exemption, we encourage you to apply to the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) for certification without examination before applying for the TDM exam. If CFPC sends you a notice recognizing your training, you may be exempt from writing the TDM exam. Once you get this notice and you meet all the other CPSA registration requirements, submit a Review of Qualifications through physiciansapply.ca and mail a copy of your CFPC notice to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, Family Medicine physicians who complete their postgraduate training within Canada, but do not pass the LMCC or CCFP, are exempt from writing the TDM exam.
Are there any exemptions from the Summative Assessment process, other than obtaining my Canadian certification and LMCC?
Physicians on the Provisional Register who were exempt from the Preliminary Clinical Assessment (PCA) part of their initial Practice Readiness Assessment are also exempt from the Summative Assessment (e.g. academic appointments). In these cases, CPSA will review their file near the expiry of their provisional registration to confirm they still meet all the requirements to transfer to our General Register, including being in satisfactory practice.
How can I avoid a Summative Assessment?
You can ensure a smooth transition from the Provisional Register to the General Register by getting your Canadian Credentials, updating us with source-verified credentials, remaining in good standing with CPSA Standards of Practice, Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct, and keeping current with your Continuous Professional Development.
How do I find out when my Provisional Registration expires?
Details on your Provisional Registration can be found in your Registration Understanding Agreement. If you don’t have your copy available, contact email@example.com.
What could delay or prevent my transfer to the General Register?
Each physician’s situation is assessed individually. We consider a number of factors, including any open CPSA complaints or interventions, non-compliance with the Continuous Professional Development (CPD) rules or practice restrictions or conditions, un-verified credentials, not completing at least 5 years of satisfactory practice in Alberta while on the Provisional Register, lack of evidence of good character or a history of serious professional conduct issues like professional misconduct, imposed practice restrictions or a failure to remediate quality-of-care issues with the Continuing Competence Program.
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