Requirements for Practicing Physician Eligibility

Practicing physicians may qualify to sit the exam as practice eligible candidates if they meet the criteria listed in either Category A or B. Category A applies to graduates of medical schools accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), the Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools (CACMS) or Graduates of schools of osteopathic medicine accredited by the Bureau of Professional Education of the American Osteopathic Association (AOA). Category B applies to graduates of medical schools not accredited by the organizations in Category A who are currently in full-time active family practice in Canada.

In order to be eligible for the Certification Examination in Family Medicine, graduates of medical schools not accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education  (LCME), Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools (CACMS) or the Bureau of Professional Education or the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) who are currently in full-time active family practice in Canada, must:

  1. Possess a licence in good standing to practice family medicine independently in a province or territory of Canada;
  2. Be an Active member in good standing with the College of Family Physicians of Canada*;
  3. Have completed 12 months of relevant post-graduate training;
  4. Have completed a minimum of five years of full-time active family practice prior to the date of application**;
  5. Have been in continuous full-time active family practice in Canada for a minimum period of two years immediately preceding the date of application;
  6. Remain in continuous full-time active practice in Canada and maintain their licensure until they sit the examination;
  7. All credentials (e.g., medical degree, medical licensure, postgraduate training,) relevant to confirming eligibility that were obtained outside Canada must be successfully source verified by the Medical Council of Canada (MCC) Physician Credentials Repository (formerly known as PCRC) at physiciansapply.ca at least eight weeks prior to the examination date. Please refer to detailed instructions.

*Please ensure your membership fees are paid and up-to-date well before the exam application deadline since membership payments can take up to 72 hours to process. You will not have access to the exam application if you have outstanding membership fees. Late exam applications will not be considered.

**Physicians wishing to apply for the Certification Examination in Family Medicine, who have had interruptions in their practice during the five-year period leading up to the date of application may still qualify for the examination as long as the interruption does not occur during the two-year period immediately preceding the date of application. Depending on the chronology and the duration of the interruption and the total number of years in practice, additional time in practice may be required to qualify for the examination.

**Relevant post-graduate training may be counted as equivalent to years in practice.

Credit for training towards practice

Individuals who have successfully completed postgraduate training in Canada or elsewhere in family medicine, emergency medicine, obstetrics and gynaecology, pediatrics, surgery, internal medicine or psychiatry which is over and above the 12-month post-graduate training requirement may receive not more than three years of credit for this training towards the five-year full-time active practice requirement. For purposes of practice eligibility each year of additional training will be accepted as follows:

a. For individuals who have attended a College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) or an ACGME accredited family medicine residency program, each full year of additional training is equivalent to two years in full-time active practice with no maximum.

b. For individuals who have attended a family medicine residency program not accredited by CFPC or ACGME, each full year of additional training is equivalent to one year in full-time active practice up to a maximum of two years.

c. For individuals with training experience in emergency medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, surgery, internal medicine or psychiatry, each full year of additional training is equivalent to one year of full-time active practice up to a maximum of two years. Individuals who have completed their training in other disciplines or programs may apply to the Board of Examiners for recognition of their training toward meeting this requirement.

No credit will be granted for any additional training that is incomplete, unsuccessful or less than a full year in duration.

Credit for Practice Ready Assessment

Practicing physicians who successfully completed, from January 1, 2017 and on, a jurisdictional (provincial or territorial) Practice Ready Assessment (PRA) program that meets the NAC-PRA standards and who meet all other Category B practice-eligibility criteria listed above, may apply to sit the Certification Examination in Family Medicine after completing a minimum of four years of full-time active family practice which includes one year of continuous, full-time active family practice in Canada immediately preceding the date of application.

To qualify for this credit, successful graduates must provide an official letter confirming successful completion issued by the program. Current programs that meet the required standards include: Newfoundland & Labrador (CSAT), Quebec (CMQ), Manitoba (IMGACL), Alberta (PPAP), British Columbia (PRA-BC) and Saskatchewan (SIPPA). This official confirmation will replace the requirement to provide references from two colleagues.

Candidates will be asked to indicate which PRA program along with accurate start and end dates on the application for the Certification Examination in Family Medicine.

As part of the application process, all Category B candidates will be required to:

  1. Provide references from two colleagues who are licensed and in good standing in the same jurisdiction as the applicant. They should have known the applicant for at least two years. At least one letter of support must be from a member of the College of Family Physicians of Canada who holds certification in family medicine;
  2. Complete a pre-certification program (Pearls.ce within the two years prior to sitting the examination. This program is a process independent of the application to sit the examination and will include a fee. Further information about Pearls.ce  can be obtained from the Department of Education at the CFPC.
  3. Provide verification of registration or licensure for each medical regulatory authority in which they hold a certificate of registration or license authorizing independent practice in Canada.
  4. Register with the MCC Physician Credentials Repository (formerly known as PCRC) to have their overseas credentials source verified. All documents submitted to physiciansapply.ca for verification must reach the stage “verification returned – pass” no later than eight weeks prior to the examination date.**Please refer to detailed instructions.

Potential candidates who hold a temporary or restricted licence to practice medicine independently and who meet all other criteria in Category A or B, may request special consideration for eligibility from the CFPC. Individuals who are registered in a residency training program and who provide clinical services outside the context of the residency program (i.e., moonlighting) cannot claim this experience as independent practice for purposes of examination eligibility for the practice eligible route.

(LCME/CACMS accredited schools generally refer to medical schools in the United States and Canada. Confirmation that a school qualifies under this category can be obtained by contacting the CFPC Examination office.)

Limits on Eligibility

Practice eligibility expires after three failed attempts on the full Certification exam or three years after the completion of the pre-certification program (Pearls.ce), but in no circumstance shall it extend for more than three years.

In order to maintain eligibility, all candidates must maintain a full unrestricted licence to practice family medicine in Canada and they must remain in continuous full-time active family practice, consistent with their category of eligibility.

Candidates must successfully complete both the written (SAMP) and the oral (SOO) components of the exam to be awarded Certification in Family Medicine (CCFP).

All candidates must initially take the entire examination.

If candidates are unsuccessful on both components of the exam, they will be required to repeat the full exam on a subsequent attempt.

If candidates are unsuccessful on one of the two exam components, they may retake that component up to three times before they will be required to repeat the entire examination.

If a candidate's eligibility expires, the candidate will be permitted to re-apply to sit the examination and will be expected to meet the practice eligible criteria in place at the time of application.

Candidates who requalify following expired eligibility, will be required to start a new eligibility cycle by initially taking the entire examination.

Pre-certification Program (Pearls.ce)

The pre-certification program (Pearls.ce) is a variation on the Pearls program of the College which involves the completion of a series of three literature searches about topics arising out of your own practice experience. The purpose of the Pearls.ce is to introduce practicing physicians to the basic concept of evidence based family medicine. It is intended as educational and not a pass/fail activity, however, it is a requirement that first time practice eligible candidates complete the program in order to qualify for the exam. You will receive a kit of instructions and background materials to get you started with the program. To assist you in the completion of these exercises you will have access to a tutor who will work with you and who will assess your completed work. You will be asked to complete three to five exercises involving literature searches related to critical questions arising out of your own practice. Upon reviewing the first three exercises your tutor will determine whether or not an additional one or two exercises are required for you to attain the objectives of the program. The program provides a unique opportunity for you to work closely with an expert in evidence-based family practice and will give you a chance to reflect critically on your practice as you prepare for the examination.

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