B.C. doctor trained in Ukraine advocates for more residency spaces for foreign grads

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Mahir Mohammed went to medical school in Ukraine, hoping to become a BC family doctor.

He noted that his previous post-secondary credits were recognized and that tuition was lower than anywhere else in Canada.

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“Medicine has always been kind of a lifelong dream of mine,” he told Granthshala News.

After graduating in 2018, the Maple Ridge man returned to B.C. and completed the Canadian licensing exam. From 2021, he is trying to secure the two-year residency required to practice medicine in the country.


Mohamed said when he applied, there were about 3,000 residency spots open year-round for aspiring family doctors. But only 10 per cent of them are reserved for foreign graduates.

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“There are about 3,000 of us right now who have completed all the licensing exams and jumped through all the hoops and we are fully qualified to start residency,” Mohamed said. “But the problem is that there are only 300 seats a year for us.”

In the United States, foreign and local grads compete for the same residency spots. But even if Canada did follow that model, Mohamed said it would not be enough to address Canada’s shortage of doctors.

“It’s really not going to solve the health crisis that we’re in right now,” he said on Sunday. “Because ultimately we’re still only going to get 3,000 people through residency every year.”

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“Increasing the number of positions by a few hundred across the country over the next few years will help us manage the backlog,” said Federation of Canadian Faculties of Medicine Dr. Geneviève Moineau.

The backlog has contributed to long wait times in BC hospitals and the sudden closure of emergency rooms in rural areas.

The BC government said it is pouring millions into developing the province’s only medical school.

In a statement, government officials said, “We will see UBC increase the number of its medical school to 40 and its residency program to 88, adding 128 new annual seats.”

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Meanwhile, after three years of uncertainty, Mohamed learned last week that he has finally reached a residence in Prince George, where he and his family will move in a few months.

“I can’t tell you how difficult these past three years have been without knowing what the future holds for you,” he said.

Mohammed said he is one of the lucky ones, but hopes changes will be made so other qualified doctors don’t have to luck out just to work.

B.C. doctor trained in Ukraine advocates for more residency spaces for foreign grads

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