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Eligibility and Application

Apply for the Certification Examination in Family Medicine

Requirements for residency eligibility

  • Eligibility requirements

    Residency eligibility for the certification examination applies to:

    • Graduates of the College of Family Physicians of Canada- (CFPC-) accredited family medicine residency programs, who have successfully completed a minimum of 24 months of training
    • Successful graduates of postgraduate family medicine training programs in jurisdictions where the standards for accreditation of postgraduate family medicine training are judged comparable and acceptable to the CFPC

    Dual Certification

    Subject to approval of the participating family medicine department, residents may pursue certification in family medicine while also pursuing certification in a competing specialty as long as they fulfill all eligibility requirements for the Certification Examination in Family Medicine and they are under direct supervision of the family medicine program director for the entire two-year program.

    Approved jurisdictions with equivalent accreditation standards for family medicine training include:

    • United States: graduates of family medicine residency programs who have been accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)
    • Australia: graduates of Australian General Practice Vocational Training programs who have been accredited by the Australian Medical Council (AMC) and meet the standards of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP)
    • Ireland: graduates of general practice vocational training schemes who have been accredited by the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP)
    • United Kingdom: graduates of general practice vocational training programs who have been accredited by the General Medical Council (GMC) and who meet the standards of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP)

    In order to be considered for residency eligibility all candidates must:

    1. Be registered with the CFPC as a Resident member*
    2. Have completed a medical degree and acceptable accredited postgraduate training in family medicine as described above
    3. Be residents who are recommended to the CFPC by the dean for postgraduate medical education and the postgraduate director of the department of family medicine or by the institution’s equivalent officers
    4. Be residents who are eligible to sit the examination if they have successfully completed 18 months of a 24-month, or 30 months of a 36-month acceptable accredited postgraduate training program in family medicine as described above, or they have no more than six months of training to complete at the time they sit the examination
    5. Have all credentials (e.g., medical degree, postgraduate training), relevant to confirming eligibility for the certification examination that were obtained outside Canada, successfully source-verified by the Medical Council of Canada (MCC) Physician Credentials Repository (formerly known as the Physician Credentials Registry of Canada or PCRC), at least eight weeks prior to the examination date (refer to detailed instructions in PDF below)

    Registering Your Credentials with the Medical Council of Canada (MCC): Physician Credentials Repository

    *Please ensure 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. Members will not have access to the exam application if they have outstanding membership fees. Late exam applications will not be considered.

    Before certification is awarded to a residency-eligible candidate, successful completion of training (a minimum of 24 months) must be confirmed by the postgraduate dean and the postgraduate director of the department of family medicine for CFPC-accredited family medicine residency training programs, or by the MCC (physiciansapply.ca) for all other acceptable accredited programs. All training requirements, including duration of training, must be completed within three years of successfully passing the certification examination.

    Apply for the Certification Examination in Family Medicine

  • Limits on residency eligibility

    Residency eligibility expires after three failed attempts on the full certification examination, or three years from the date of the completion of training—whichever comes first—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 practise family medicine and they must remain in continuous, full-time active family practice in Canada consistent with their category of eligibility.

    Candidates must successfully complete both the written short-answer management problem (SAMP) and the simulated office oral (SOO) components of the exam to be awarded Certification in the College of Family Physicians of Canada (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 may requalify for one further full attempt at the examination as a residency-eligible candidate by undertaking additional residency training. In such cases, the candidate will need to make an application to the Board of Examinations and Certification for special consideration in consultation and with the support of the postgraduate director of a department of family medicine.
    • The candidate can reapply to sit the examination as a practice-eligible candidate and must meet all of the practice-eligible criteria in place at the time in order to qualify. Candidates who requalify following expired eligibility, will be required to start a new eligibility cycle by initially taking the entire examination.
  • Credit for relevant training

    It is possible for individuals who enter training programs other than family medicine to obtain credit for some portion of this training towards their family medicine residency eligibility. These individuals should approach the family medicine postgraduate director of the program they wish to enter for an evaluation of their training.

    Following the evaluation, and if the program deems it appropriate to provide credit for previous training, it is the responsibility of the postgraduate director of the receiving residency training program in family medicine to apply to the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) Board of Examinations and Certification on behalf of the trainee, to seek approval for a shortened family medicine residency no less than 18 months.

    The application to the Board of Examinations and Certification will be dealt with on the basis of individual consideration and should include the outcome of the evaluation of previous training, an outline of the proposed curriculum and an explanation of how the proposed curriculum will address learning needs of the individual trainee.

  • Leaves of absence and waivers

    Leaves of absence

    Residents in family medicine must successfully complete 24 months of training. Normally, these 24 months would be completed in sequence. The postgraduate dean, on recommendation of the postgraduate director of the department of family medicine, may grant interruptions which require a leave of absence from the training programs. It is expected that the resident will make up time lost, or rotations missed with equivalent extra time in residency upon return to the program.

    Waivers of training

    A leave may still result in a waiver of training requirements, but only in exceptional circumstances. Such circumstances will be determined by the postgraduate director of the department of family medicine with the approval of the postgraduate dean. The Board of Examinations and Certification of the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) must be notified that a waiver of training was granted under these circumstances if the candidate wishes to maintain their residency eligibility for certification. Such notification must be provided prior to the submission of completion of training for each individual.

    To be eligible for the Certification Examination in Family Medicine and granted Certification in the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CCFP), the maximum length of a waiver of training for residents in family medicine residency training programs will be four weeks.

    Family medicine residents registered in enhanced skills programs of one year or less in duration must complete the entire duration of training to be eligible for CFPC examinations leading to Certificates of Added Competence and/or attestations of completion of training.

  • Part-time or shared residency training

    Residents in family medicine would normally complete 24 consecutive months of training. There may be residents who will require their training schedule to be modified, interrupted or extended in order to accommodate illness, disability or other unforeseen circumstances. The postgraduate dean, on recommendation of the postgraduate director of the department of family medicine, may grant modifications to training schedules under the following conditions:

    • That any part-time commitment be equal to 50 per cent or more of that of a full-time resident
    • That the overall length of the training program not exceed four years from the date the program commenced*

    In the event that an interruption in training or a circumstance requires a resident’s schedule to extend beyond the limits outlined above, that resident must have the modified training schedule reviewed by the CFPC Board of Examinations and Certification to determine their eligibility for certification. It is the responsibility of the postgraduate director of the program in question to initiate this review on behalf of the resident. The CFPC Board of Examinations and Certification will review, on a case-by-case basis, the maximum number of years allowable to complete the family medicine residency training program.

    In order for the Board of Examinations and Certification to fairly and appropriately assess the request, the following information must be clearly outlined:

    • Date training began
    • Expected date of completion of training
    • Overall length of training/length of extension requested
    • Description of training completed to date
    • Description of training that remains to be completed
    • Clear outline of training plan to achieve remaining training
    • Justification for extension (e.g., medical or maternity leave, remediation)
    • Clear statement of unqualified support signed by both the postgraduate dean and the postgraduate director of the Department of Family Medicine

    *The above guidelines will apply to family medicine residents registered in enhanced skills programs of one year or less in duration, provided that the overall length of the training program does not exceed double the normal duration of training.

  • Modifications to curriculum

    Residents in a College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) accredited program who have had their residency altered to exclude core elements of the curriculum due to illness, disability or other factor, must have their altered curriculum reviewed and approved by the CFPC Board of Examinations and Certification to determine their eligibility for certification. It is the responsibility of the postgraduate director of the program in question to initiate this review on behalf of the resident. The examination will not be modified in any way to accommodate the candidate.

Requirements for practising physician eligibility—Category A

Practising 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).

In order to be eligible to challenge the Certification Examination in Family Medicine, graduates of medical schools accredited by the LCME, the CACMS, or graduates of schools of osteopathic medicine accredited by the Bureau of Professional Education of the AOA must:

  1. Possess a licence in good standing to practise family medicine independently in Canada or elsewhere
  2. Be an Active member in good standing with the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC)* 
  3. Have completed 12 months of relevant postgraduate medical 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 for a minimum period of two years immediately preceding the date of application
  6. Remain in continuous full-time active practice and maintain their licensure through the time they sit the examination

*Please ensure 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. Candidates will not have access to the exam application if they 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 postgraduate 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 gynecology, pediatrics, surgery, internal medicine or psychiatry, which is over and above the 12-month postgraduate training requirement, may receive not more than three years of credit for this training toward the five-year, full-time active practice requirement. For purposes of practice eligibility, each year of additional training will be accepted as follows:

    1. For individuals who have attended a 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.
    2. For individuals who have attended a family medicine residency program not accredited by the CFPC or the ACGME, each full year of additional training is equivalent to one year in full-time active practice up to a maximum of two years.
    3. 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 Examinations and Certificationfor recognition of their training toward meeting this requirement.
    4. 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 (PRA)

    Practising physicians who successfully completed, from January 1, 2017 and on, a jurisdictional (provincial or territorial) PRA program that meets the National Assessment Collaboration (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 the Clinical Skills Assessment and Training in Newfoundland and Labrador (CSAT), Collège des médecins du Québec (CMQ), University of Manitoba International Medical Graduate Program (PRA MB – Family Practice & PRA MB – Specialty Practice), Alberta’s Provincial Physician Assessment Program (PPAP), the Practice-Ready Assessment – Physicians for BC (PRA-BC), Nova Scotia (NSPRAP) and the Saskatchewan International Physician Practice Assessment (SIPPA). This official confirmation will replace the requirement to provide references from two colleagues.

    Candidates will be asked to specify the 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 A candidates are 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 CFPC who holds Certification in the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CCFP).
    2. Complete a pre-certification program (ce) within 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. More 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 licence authorizing independent practice.
  • 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 practise 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 short-answer management problem (SAMP) and the simulated office oral (SOO) components of the exam to be awarded Certification in the College of Family Physicians of Canada (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 reapply 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 practice experience. The purpose of the Pearls.ce is to introduce practising 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 to complete the program in order to qualify for the exam. Candidates will receive a kit of instructions and background materials to get started with the program.

    To assist candidates with the completion of these exercises, they will have access to a tutor who will work with them and who will assess completed work. Candidates will be asked to complete three to five exercises involving literature searches related to critical questions arising out of their own practice. Upon reviewing the first three exercises, the tutor will determine whether additional exercises are required for a candidate to attain the objectives of the program. The program provides a unique opportunity for candidates to work closely with an expert in an evidence-based family practice and as well as a chance to reflect critically on their practices as they prepare for the examination. 
     

Requirements for practising physician eligibility—Category B

Practising physicians may qualify to sit the exam as practice-eligible candidates if they meet the criteria listed in either Category A or B.

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 LCME, CACMS, or the Bureau of Professional Education or the AOA, who are currently in full-time active family practice in Canada, must:

  1. Possess a licence in good standing to practise family medicine independently in a province or territory of Canada
  2. Be an Active member in good standing with the CFPC*
  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. Have all credentials (e.g., medical degree, medical licensure, postgraduate training,) relevant to confirming eligibility, that were obtained outside Canada, successfully source-verified by the Medical Council of Canada (MCC) Physician Credentials Repository (formerly known as the Physician Credentials Registry of Canada or PCRC) at least eight weeks prior to the examination date (refer to detailed instructions in PDF below)

Registering Your Credentials with the Medical Council of Canada (MCC): Physician Credentials Repository

*Please ensure 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. Candidates will not have access to the exam application if they 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 gynecology, 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:

    1. For individuals who have attended a 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.
    2. For individuals who have attended a family medicine residency program not accredited by the 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.
    3. 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 Examinations and Certification for recognition of their training toward meeting this requirement.
    4. 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

    Practising physicians who successfully completed, from January 1, 2017 and on, a jurisdictional (provincial or territorial) Practice-Ready Assessment (PRA) program that meets the National Assessment Collaboration (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 the Clinical Skills Assessment and Training in Newfoundland and Labrador (CSAT), Collège des médecins du Québec (CMQ), University of Manitoba International Medical Graduate Program (PRA MB – Family Practice & PRA MB – Specialty Practice), Alberta’s Provincial Physician Assessment Program (PPAP), the Practice-Ready Assessment – Physicians for BC (PRA-BC), and the Saskatchewan International Physician Practice Assessment (SIPPA). This official confirmation will replace the requirement to provide references from two colleagues.

    Candidates will be asked to specify the 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 CFPC who holds Certification in the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CCFP).
    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 Medical Council of Canada (MCC) Physician Credentials Repository (formerly known as the Physician Credentials Registry of Canada or 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 (refer to detailed instructions in PDF below).

    Registering Your Credentials with the Medical Council of Canada (MCC): Physician Credentials Repository

    Potential candidates who hold a temporary or restricted licence to practise 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 practise 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 the College of Family Physicians of Canada (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 reapply 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

    The pre-certification program (Pearls.ce) is a variation on the PEARLSTM program of the CFPC which involves the completion of a series of three literature searches about topics arising out of practice experience. The purpose of the Pearls.ce is to introduce practising 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. Candidates will receive a kit of instructions and background materials to get started with the program.

    To assist candidates in the completion of these exercises, they will have access to a tutor who will work with them and who will assess their completed work. Candidates will be asked to complete three to five exercises involving literature searches related to critical questions arising out of their own practice. Upon reviewing the first three exercises, the tutor will determine whether or not an additional one or two exercises are required for a candidate to attain the objectives of the program. The program provides a unique opportunity for candidates to work closely with an expert in evidence-based family practice and will give them a chance to reflect critically on their practice as they prepare for the examination.
     

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