Foreign Trained Doctors in Canada: Cultural Contingency and Cultural Democracy in the Medical Profession


  • Lorne Preston Foster York University, School of Public Policy and Administration


In recent years, the media have highlighted the baffling exclusion of internationally trained physicians in the face of Canada’s chronic doctor shortage and exasperating “patient wait times” crisis. Despite the logical role foreign physician could play in resource planning in this country, they still face numerous challenges and institutional barriers in attempting to enter the supply of practicing physicians. This article examines the relationship between culture and power as a critical foundation for understanding the credentials devaluation of foreign-trained doctors, and as a fundamental step toward the advance of inclusive public policy. It argues that the medical profession is culturally regulated to the disadvantage of foreign-born and foreign-trained and predominantly non-European and non-White immigrant practitioners. This paper concludes that the current professional and academic discourse on foreign medical doctors is limited by the lack of an adequate contextual framework, and offers a perspective on a balanced and inclusive approach to social policy.