Registration Assessments

Before we give a physician an Alberta medical permit, we often need to assess them to make sure they have the right skills and can practice safely. Learn about the different assessments CPSA performs.

Registration assessment policies

Our registration assessment policies outline the processes for Practice Readiness Assessments, transferring from our Provisional Register to our General Register, and Summative Assessments.

Practice Readiness Assessments

A Practice Readiness Assessment (PRA-AB) is the required final step of an alternate path to independent practice in Alberta for IMGs who don’t have complete Canadian credentials. Once an IMG registers with CPSA, they must pass this 2-part assessment of their clinical competence, chart management and professionalism to join CPSA’s temporary Provisional Register. If a Canadian medical graduate fails a national exam, they also have to participate in a portion of this assessment and pass before joining the Provisional Register.

Part A: Preliminary Clinical Assessment (PCA)

Over 3 months, you’ll work under direct observation in the medical practice of a CPSA-approved assessor. The assessor will always be the physician in charge of the practice and will oversee everything you do. They’ll review your clinical competence, chart management and professionalism. The assessment can be stopped at any time if CPSA has enough evidence to make a decision about your ability to practice in Alberta. Part A could be waived based on your location of medical training or specialty certification, previous experience in a Canadian setting, an appointment to a full-time academic position, or if you are a Canadian-trained applicant who has not passed the national certification exams.

Part B: Supervised Practice Assessment (SPA)

Over 3 months, a CPSA-approved supervisor will observe you in independent practice where you are the physician in charge. During this phase, you can bill Alberta Health for your medical services. The supervisor will visit you regularly to review charts and collect feedback from your patients, colleagues and staff. The assessment can be stopped at any time if CPSA has enough evidence to make a decision about your ability to practice in Alberta.

Start your PRA-AB

Below are the steps you need to take before a PRA-AB Assessment. Once these are complete, CPSA finds you an assessor and arranges the assessment dates. This may take some time as we are very thorough in finding assessors that are available, qualified and do not have conflicts of interest.

  1. Submit a Review of Qualifications for Independent Practice: 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 CPSA eligibility requirements. We’ll send you a CPSA Eligibility Letter confirming if you can move to the next step. It outlines which CPSA Register you can apply to and what assessment you need. You also need this letter for AHS sponsorship. For more information, check out applying for independent practice.
  2. Apply for the TDM exam: If you are a Family Medicine physician, you need to pass the Therapeutics Decision Making exam. Family Medicine physicians who aren’t eligible for independent practice on the General Register, or who do not have Recognized Training and Certification Outside Canada through the College of Family Physicians of Canada, must write the TDM exam.
  3. Secure AHS sponsorship: You need to apply for sponsorship from Alberta Health Services (AHS). This sponsorship helps make sure new-to-Alberta physicians can enter the workforce while also serving communities that have the highest need for physicians. AHS sends us a sponsorship form. To apply for or see what jobs are available in Alberta, visit doctorjobsalberta.com.
  4. Submit your supporting documents: Your CPSA Registration Administrator will contact you after we receive your TDM exam results (if applicable) and AHS sponsorship form. At this stage, you will need to answer background questions through your physiciansapply.ca account and provide us with supporting documentation. Your CPSA Registration Administrator will let you know what documentation we need.
  5. Start the PRA-AB: Once we have your full application and supporting documents, we’ll send your file to the PRA program and start setting up your assessment.

Information for AHS Medical Affairs

All PRA-AB assessments depend on the applicant physician having and maintaining AHS sponsorship. This information helps AHS employees know what we need from AHS. It also helps us understand what the physician is being sponsored for and what kind of assessment they need. Applicant physicians have to maintain their sponsorship once they join the Provisional Register.

  1. AHS reviews the applicant’s CPSA Eligibility Letter to help with their selection process. The letter outlines which CPSA Register the applicant can apply to and what assessment they need.
  2. AHS completes and submits the Physician Sponsorship form. This outlines the applicant’s type of practice, scope of practice and practice location.
  3. AHS updates CPSA with any changes to an AHS-sponsored physician’s practice by completing the Change to Physician Sponsorship form.

PRA-AB fees

Fees (taxes are included) for a PRA-AB Assessment are paid by the sponsor and cover the cost of the assessors’ time and any expenses they incur related to the assessment. They also include any fees we pay to the Medical Council of Canada (MCC) to be a part of the pan-Canadian PRA program (NAC-PRA). Applicants may be responsible for their own assessment fees—please review your employment and sponsorship contracts for details.

Return-to-practice assessments

If you’ve been out of practice for more than 3 years, you may have to complete a return-to-practice assessment to make sure you can start working again safely. This assessment determines what kind of re-training or other support you might need to care for Albertans after a long absence from medicine.

CPSA will review your application and let you know if you need an assessment and additional training. We’ll arrange any required assessment and training.

Return-to practice assessment fees

Physicians are responsible for any costs associated with their return-to-practice assessments.

Change-in-scope assessments

If you are already practising medicine in Alberta and would like to add a new medical service to your practice, you may need an assessment to make sure you have the training, experience and competence to offer this service to Albertans.

CPSA will review your application and let you know if you need an assessment and additional training. We’ll arrange any required assessment and training. Physicians are responsible for any costs.

If you are registered with CPSA and have new certification from either the Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons of Alberta (RCPSC) or the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC), please first contact registration@cpsa.ab.ca to let us know about your new credentials.

A Registration Administrator will respond with the next steps.

Change-in-scope assessment fees

Summative Assessments

Physicians on CPSA’s temporary Provisional Register have 6 years to get all their Canadian credentials and transfer to the General Register. Those who don’t have to pass a Summative Assessment at their own cost if a Summative Assessment is a requirement on their Registration Understanding Acknowledgement.

The Summative Assessment is a mandatory, 3 to 4 day pass/fail assessment of your medical knowledge, procedural skills, clinical decision-making skills, communication and professionalism to prove you qualify for registration on the General Register. Without getting the required credentials or passing the Summative Assessment, your registration on the Provisional Register will expire. This is a high-stakes pass/fail assessment—physicians who fail can no longer practise medicine in Alberta. There is an appeal process for those who fail the Summative Assessment. During an assessment or appeal,  your registration on the Provisional Register will remain valid.

We encourage physicians to get all their Canadian credentials within 6 years.

Summative assessment fees

Registration Assessment FAQs

To see more FAQs related to Registration, click on All FAQs and filter by "Registration"

All FAQs

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 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 physician.inquires@cpsa.ab.ca.

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.

When will CPSA review my file to transfer me from the Provisional Register to the General Register?

CPSA reviews your status every time you tell us about new certifications, or when you reach your five or six-year anniversary on the Provisional Register. We may ask you for information about your certifications at that time to help us determine if you are eligible for the General Register.

Who is completing my registration assessment?

We rely on qualified physician assessors from across Alberta to help us review physicians who are new-to-Canada, have changed their practice or are returning from a long break.

Our assessors are highly-respected clinicians who help us ensure we’re registering competent and well-trained physicians.

Questions or feedback? We'd love to hear from you.

Local: 780-969-4924
Toll-free: 1-800-561-3899 ext. 4924 (in Canada)

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