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Monday, March 30, 2015


Improved Assessment for Foreign-Trained Physicians another Big Step Forward for Physician Recruitment and Retention

Health Minister Don McMorris today announced a new Saskatchewan-based assessment process designed to better recruit more foreign-trained physicians to the province.

Effective January 1, 2011, the assessment will ensure physicians are screened with sufficient rigor to ensure patients receive safe, high quality care, while meeting the needs of communities and health regions in more efficiently recruiting International Medical Graduates (IMGs).

"Even while we work to expand the number of College of Medicine seats and to train our own doctors here at home, Saskatchewan continues to rely on and value our international medical graduates," McMorris said. "As part of our ongoing efforts, we are pleased to introduce this provincially-based assessment process. Physicians and Saskatchewan citizens alike have asked for it, and we are pleased to move forward in improving access for all of our communities."

One key change involves removing the barriers that previously existed based on IMGs' country of training. Once the new assessment has been evaluated, IMGs from all countries will be assessed as long as they meet the pre-screening criteria. Opening up the assessment to IMGs from around the world will bolster recruitment to the province by allowing an assessment of a much wider range of physicians.

"Once the validity and reliability of the orientation and assessment process is established, together with the availability of ongoing resources to support the program, we will be pleased to offer the opportunity for assessment to a wider range of International Medical Graduates who have not previously been eligible to demonstrate their competency," Continuing Professional Learning in the College of Medicine Assistant Dean Dr. Penny Davis said.

"There are many benefits to this new assessment process," College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan Registrar Dr. Dennis Kendel said. "For instance, assessing IMGs prior to their work practice allows for safer patient care as well as less disruption for communities and IMGs alike, as physicians will no longer need to leave their practice to be assessed."

Other benefits of the new assessment process include:

  • IMGs will receive orientation to the Canadian practice environment prior to assessment, which assists IMGs' adjustment to the province and increases their chances of success.
  • The elimination of the current group practice requirement means once IMGs successfully pass their assessment, they can go directly to the community to which they were recruited to practise independently.
  • A larger volume of IMG candidates can be assessed throughout the year.
  • The new assessment will closely align Saskatchewan with national licensure standards currently under development, allowing for full labour mobility between provinces.

The new assessment process flows from the government's physician strategy, introduced last year, which aims to address the physician shortage in Saskatchewan.

Some other physician recruitment initiatives include: 

  • Establishing a physician recruitment agency to better co-ordinate physician recruitment and help the province compete with other jurisdictions (announced December 2009).
  • Establishing a total of 100 undergraduate and 120 post-graduate medical training seats by 2011 (up from 60 of each). 
  • Committing $2 million to distributive education to better prepare graduates to practise in rural Saskatchewan (announced March 2010).


For more information, contact:

Tyler McMurchy
Phone: 306-787-4083

Laura Herman
University of Saskatchewan
Phone: 306-966-6059

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