Medical Licence Bridging Program

The Medical Licence Bridging Program (MLBP) for International Medical Doctors (IMDs) is designed to bridge the gap between the knowledge and skills that IMDs already possess and the knowledge and skills they need to become practice-ready in a Canadian medical environment. The program provides training and experience in four areas: Canadian medical workplace culture; patient interaction and communication in Canadian medical practice; training and practice in the Objective Structured Clinical Examination; and clinical exposure through Observership. This focused training broadens knowledge of Canadian medical practice and improves the success rate of IMDs as they pursue the Canadian medical licensing exams and residency.


The MLBP is designed to assist IMDs throughout Eastern Ontario. It is comprised of interactive workshops and Observerships, totalling more than 120 hours in length. Workshops are held in Ottawa and the Observerships are arranged in health care facilities throughout Eastern Ontario. IMDs enter the program through customized streams which recognize their individual readiness to successfully complete the program activities. There is no cost for IMDs to participate in the program.

Promotion of the program is carried out through “gateway” locations in the area, including the provision of marketing material to other settlement organizations, organizations such as the YWCA/YMCA, and community colleges. Presentations are also made to cultural organizations or other organizations where IMDs may seek support. The program also maintains a website with full information about the program. Word-of-mouth promotion (from IMD to IMD) is also an important source of clients.

Newcomer Involvement

The program was originally developed based on feedback received from clients of the Catholic Immigration Centre about the various challenges facing IMDs as they tried to integrate into the Canadian medical system. The Catholic Immigration Centre then sought feedback from individual Canadian medical doctors, clinics, and the University of Ottawa as to the major challenges for IMD integration. The program was then designed to bridge this gap in knowledge and skills. As the program has “matured,” clients have offered suggestions that have resulted in a couple of specific initiatives: the creation of an IMD resource library which contains many of the required texts for exam preparation, and the support for self-administered study groups for the various Canadian medical licensing exams.

Stakeholder Collaboration

The program has been developed and implemented in partnership with the following organizations:


Accountability for the success and results of the program is managed through regular reporting to the funders on behalf of the public. The program is also, as a matter of fact, accountable to the clients and its success in this area is measured by the increasing demand by IMDs. It has a waiting list of IMDs who are eager to take it.

Positive Outcome

Since its inception in 2007, the program has assisted IMDs through two complete match cycles of the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS), the national service which manages the matching of candidates (both Canadian medical graduates and IMDs) with post-graduate residency training programs across Canada. Program staff estimate that, currently, there are approximately 600 IMDs located in the Ottawa area alone. Based on its experience in the areas of settlement and integration of newcomers to Canada, the Catholic Immigration Centre estimates that a very small number of these doctors (perhaps five or six per year) were finding success in their applications for residency positions.

The Medical Licence Bridging Program was originally funded in 2008, and the first two of seven cohorts were taken through the program just in time to apply for residency through CaRMS. (The annual CaRMS deadline for residency positions is at the end of November.)

Of the 35 IMDs who completed the MLBP during the fall of 2008, 24 were offered interviews and 16 obtained residency positions. This represents a 46 percent success rate for the first two cohorts of the program.

By November of 2009, 52 additional IMDs had participated in the program for a total of 87 participants in Cohorts 1 through 7. In November 2009, 31 of the 71 participants who had not yet been admitted to residency applied or reapplied for positions through CaRMS. Of these 31 who applied, 22 were invited for interviews and 16 of them were matched.

During the current 2010 matching cycle, the program has 12 clients who got matched through CaRMS during the first iteration. They are currently waiting for the results from the second iteration.

Since the inception of the program, 44 clients got residency positions.

“The extraordinary work done by the dedicated team members of the Bridging Program helped me a lot in preparing my CV, the personal statement, and for the interviews (many mock interviews!). Everything they did and offered made me ready to go. They were so friendly, professional and always there to listen, and support.” S. A. A., University of Ottawa – Pediatrics 2009.


The Medical Licence Bridging Program is easily adaptable to any Canadian city with a Faculty of Medicine and a sizeable population of IMDs. The MLBP is currently in discussions with a Francophone organization to explore the potential for adapting the program for French-speaking IMDs.


Service Providers
Catholic Immigration Centre / Centre catholique pour immigrants
Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration and Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Ottawa and Eastern Ontario
Year of Launch
Languages of Delivery
Newcomer Groups Served
Immigrant and refugee families
Expected Results
Labour Market Access (Newcomers obtain the required assistance to find employment commensurate with their skills and education)

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