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A pharmacist abroad - what happened when I decided to practice in Canada?

After mulling it over for a few years, in December 2019 I submitted my application to gain permanent residency in Canada and begin the process of practicing pharmacy there...

This was after several trips to the country over the last 10 years, which included meeting Prof Zubin Austin in 2011 in his office at Toronto University. I was struck by his vision for pharmacy and his dedication to the profession.

The process is meant to take around six months to complete and we had planned to move in the summer of 2020. However, as you all know, something came up in March 2020 and everything was shut down.

All migration was paused and the number of candidates in the pool got bigger and bigger during this closure. Eventually I went to Canada in June 2023 to collect my Permanent Residency (PR) card and we decided to plan our move for summer 2024.

It was interesting to read in C+D recently that the GPhC is planning a “radical reform of the registration process for internationally trained pharmacists”.

I have been pushing the same with GPhC’s equivalent body in Canada, the PEBC. Currently it takes a long process to gain pharmacist accreditation in Canada, which I imagine puts off a lot of people.

Another turn of events has led me to postpone my Canadian plans for now. As the song says, 'Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans'.

But I started off doing the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) in which I had to achieve certain bands to be eligible for the application.

This was then followed by registering with PEBC which included getting statements from the GPhC about my current standing and my exam results from when I was at university.

Next step was to apply for an Educational Credential Assessment which would allow me to apply under the Express Entry for the Federal Skilled Worker Program including getting a full private medical check. Then there is a long list of exams:

  • Evaluating exam 4.25-hours long which has 200 questions.
  • International Pharmacy Graduate 24-week programme which requires to enrol at a university in Canada
  • Qualifying exam part one: 4.5-hours long which has another 200 questions
  • Qualifying exam part two: 3-hour OSCE exam
  • The Jurisprudence Exam: Specific to each state

However, after years of pushing, I think there is light at the end of the tunnel as Nova Scotia state is allowing a much simpler straight forward approach for international pharmacists to register. And I believe it is important for GPhC to continue making it an easier approach for international pharmacists from certain countries to register here in the UK.


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