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Screening Criteria for Practice Readiness Assessment (PRA) for Specialist

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Physicians applying for a Defined licence on the Conditional Register must demonstrate a route to Full licensure. For specialists other than Family physicians, this includes demonstrating their eligibility to challenge their discipline’s certifying examinations of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC).

The Practice Ready Assessment (PRA) Specialist pathway is a route to licensure for physicians whose international specialty training and certification is outside the 29 jurisdictions accepted by RCPSC. A PRA is not conducted in subspecialty disciplines.

The Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) and Dalhousie will identify and recommend candidates for consideration to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia (CPSNS). The endorsement of the candidates must include a letter of support from the Nova Scotia Health Authority, confirming an offer of employment in an area of defined need, upon independent licensure. Contractual arrangements including return of service agreements, are the responsibility of the physician and the Nova Scotia Health Authority or the IWK Health Centre.

The CPSNS reviews the candidates credentials to determine eligibility. Selection into the PRA is determined by the NSHA. If selected, candidate physicians will be issued a Clinical Assessment Licence for the purpose of the PRA. Under a Clinical Assessment Licence, the candidate is not considered the Most Responsible Physician (MRP).

If successful, the CPSNS will provide a letter of referral to support the physician’s application for examination eligibility at the RCPSC, through the PRA route.

Demonstration of Royal College eligibility will lead to a Defined licence. A Defined licence allows for a time-limited route to Full licensure upon success in the certification examination.

Policy Statement

Physicians trained in international jurisdictions will be eligible to apply for a College-approved practice ready assessment provided they:

  1. Are a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant or hold a work permit; and
  2. Are a graduate of a Medical School listed in the World Directory of Medical School; and
  3. Meet the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia (CPSNS) standards for language proficiency; and
  4. Provide a criminal record check; and
  5. Provide certificates of Professional Conduct (CPCs) from all practice jurisdictions; and
  6. Provide letters of reference; and
  7. Provide a record of Postgraduate training that is substantially equivalent to Canadian training and has been satisfactorily completed. Refer to the RCPSC Specialty Training Requirements; and
  8. Provide evidence of specialty certification from an international jurisdiction, equivalent to a primary specialty as defined by the RCPSC; and
  9. Provide a curriculum vitae; and
  10. Provide an explanation regarding gaps in practice; and
  11. Have a pass standing in the Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Exam (MCCQE) Part 1 examination and a pass standing in either the Medical Council of Canada National Assessment Collaboration (MCC NAC) OSCE or the MCCQE Part II Examination; and
  12. Have fewer than two prior failed attempts in Canadian practice ready assessment programs; and
  13. Demonstrate evidence of independent practice experience – minimum of three years of independent practice in the discipline; and
  14. Demonstrate evidence of currency of practice in the primary specialty, defined as fewer than three years since leaving a formal specialty training post OR at least six months independent practice within the previous three years.


Costs of the PRA, including reasonable administrative charges by the College, will be the responsibility of the sponsoring Nova Scotia Health Authority or the IWK Health Centre. Costs will be agreed to by the sponsor, College and PRA provider prior to the PRA commencing.

Under no circumstances can a PRA be self-funded by the physician.

Under no circumstances will a PRA be endorsed in a retrospective manner by the College.

Candidates must pay licensing fees as approved by Council.


Applicable Legislation

Medical Practitioners Regulations Section 36(b), 39(1)(a-k), 40(1)(2)

Approved By

Registration Policy Committee, Council

Approval Date

April 25, 2019

May 24, 2019

Review Date

April 2021