O Canada!

US DO school graduates to get new opportunities in the 2020 Canadian Match

DOs have become eligible for additional residency training opportunities in Canada since all 10 provinces now recognize DO graduates as equal to MDs.

All 10 Canadian provinces now recognize the qualifications of American osteopathic medical school graduates as equal to that of U.S.-trained MDs. This will open up more residency training opportunities in the country, according to the Canadian Osteopathic Association (COA).

Newfoundland and Labrador recently updated their residency eligibility requirements to include DOs, according to James Church, DO, COA executive director, a family medicine physician practicing in Victoria, British Columbia.

COA is hopeful the final province, Saskatchewan, will update its requirements in time for the 2020 Canadian Match.

“This is another piece of the [practice rights] puzzle that COA has been working on over the past 100 years,” Dr. Church noted. “A few years ago, all provinces agreed that U.S. DO graduates can qualify for full practice rights. Keep in mind that 30 years ago there were four DOs practicing in Canada, myself included. There are about 30 now, and we expect the numbers to increase dramatically.”

About 400 Canadian students are currently enrolled in U.S. osteopathic medical schools, added Dr. Church, whose family includes four generations of DOs.

COA successfully lobbied for the residency eligibility changes, which give graduates of COMs equal standing with all other international medical school graduates (IMG). Learn more about IMGs and the Canadian Resident Matching Service here.


  1. While this is great, still for any Canadian wanting to practice in Canada that is attending a DO school in the US, the best option is to do residency within the US and travel back once licensed.

    The IMG match is much more limited than the Canadian MD match.

    Also note that for the purposes of CaRMS – USMD and Canadian MD are equivalent as both schools are accredited by the LCME. Before 2014, USDO were also treated as equivalent as a USMD and a Canadian MD for the purposes of CaRMS. However, post 2014 all USDOs applying to CaRMS are treated as IMGs.

    1. The following is a response provided by the Canadian Osteopathic Association:

      As Canadian medical schools have increased enrollment in an attempt to meet public demand, competition for Canadian residency positions has also increased.  However, many provinces have a significant number of residency positions dedicated for IMGs, and as such, graduates of US osteopathic medical schools with their advanced American medical training, I would think, should be very much desired for such positions.  So, the IMG match may in fact be much more open, and competing within the IMG pool for a Canadian residency position may actually be of benefit.  Make sure, that if you complete your residency training in the USA and wish to return to Canada to practice, that your training is of equal content and duration.  Not an issue for Family Medicine as US programs are 3 years, whereas Canadian programs are 2 years, but specialty certification between the two countries can be quite different.  Check requiements with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons.

  2. So if a US DO graduated from AOA program, will they be able to work in Canada now? Will AOA residency be equivalent to ACGME residency? That is not the way licensing is working in Canada right now.

    1. Hey Mary,

      From what I understand, no. If one did an AOA residency, one cannot work in Canada unless they re-train in an ACGME residency.

    2. Only if the AOA program has co-accreditation with ACGME will AOA PGME be recognized for registration to practice in Canada. The exception to this is in the province of British Columbia where there are two avenues for licensure. Full practice for those DOs who have completed ACGME accredited training, and limited ‘Osteopathic Practice’ for those with a special interest in Muscuolskeletal Medicine, excluding obstetrics and major surgery, who have completed AOA PGME and the COMLEX.

      1. Hi Dr Church,

        Great post.

        If I did an AOA/ACGME dual certified rotating internship and and then a residency within Neurology at an ACGME program what is the process to practice in Canada. Do I have to sit for my speciality boards again in CA? If i wanted to be an Osteopath without Neurology patient care just the OMM portion do I apply differently.

        Does it get confusing for patients in CA that now there are ‘different’ DOs; ones that are fully licensed to be complete physicians and ones that will only manipulate? I can always reach out to you directly if that works as well?

        Thanks so much,

  3. The provincial Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons across Canada that license physicians require applicants applying for registration for medical practice to be certified in Family Medicine by the College of Family Physicians of Canada, or in a medical or surgical specialty by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. This does require completion of Canadian certification examinations. The requirements for certification in Neurology (5 years) can be found at the following link:


    With regard to ‘Osteopathic Practice’, the only province in Canada that will recognize AOA credentials for registration to practice without meeting CFPC or RCPSC requirements is the province of British Columbia. If you are a graduate of an AOA accredited osteopathic medical school and are certified in a specialty in the USA, then you can register for ‘Osteopathic Practice’ in BC which does prohibit one from engaging in obstetrics or surgery. One can otherwise perform a general medical practice and OMT.

    With regard to public confusion regarding unregulated practitioners using our professional designations, this is a major problem on which both the COA and AOA are working together to resolve.

  4. Dr. Church,

    I am currently a third year medical student studying at a DO school in New York. Would this in anyway impact clerkship/rotation opportunities for Canadian DO students who wish to do some of their rotations back home?

    Since this new information now serves DO’s as equivalent to US MD’s, would we able to more readily partake in electives back in Canada?

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