Clinical observer

Clinical observer

Registration as a clinical observer can provide an educational experience for international medical graduates or Canadian medical school graduates who want to enter a postgraduate training program in British Columbia.


An applicant must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • have a medical degree from a medical school listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools which includes the Canada sponsor note
  • have successfully completed Part I of the Medical Council of Canada's Qualifying Examination (MCCQE), or have successfully completed licensing examinations in a non-Canadian jurisdiction acceptable to the registration committee
  • obtain a written request from a supervising physician, subject to College approval
  • meet the College’s English language proficiency requirements
  • have Canadian citizenship, be a permanent resident or be legally able to live and work in British Columbia

How to apply

Medical school graduates wanting to apply for registration and licensure to complete a clinical observership should email to receive detailed instructions on how to apply.

Email the College for detailed instructions

Applicants have to complete an application form, pay fees and submit supplementary documentation as part of the application process.

Completed applications must be submitted to the College six weeks prior to the anticipated start date. Failure to meet this deadline may result in a delayed start to the clinical observership.

Maintaining the licence

To extend a clinical observership licence, email details of your request to

Per the College Bylaws, registration as a clinical observer may be granted for a maximum of three years. Note: licensure is granted for a maximum time period of 12 months at a time.

Email extension request to the College

For supervising physicians

Confirmation to the College

Supervising physicians must confirm in writing that they will

  • be responsible for the supervision of any clinical contact by the clinical observer with patients,
  • inform patients that the clinical observer is an international medical graduate participating in an educational experience under their supervision,
  • obtain verbal consent from patients to allow the clinical observer to participate in the care situation, and
  • provide direct supervision of all interactions between the clinical observer and patients.

If a portion of the educational activity is to take place in a hospital, a letter from the chief of staff supporting the registration of the applicant as a clinical observer must be submitted with the application.

The College must be informed immediately if a clinical observer leaves the observership before the expiration date of their registration. This includes clinical observers who take time away from their observership to study.

Patient interaction

In situations where clinical observers have demonstrated an appropriate level of competence and performance, the supervising physician may allow them to interact alone with the patient provided that:

  • the clinical observer-patient interview is followed by direct interaction between the supervising physician and the patient to confirm the findings, diagnosis and suggested investigations or treatment
  • any activities based on clinical judgement, such as procedures or activities, must be directly overseen by the supervising physician or their designate

During the period of the clinical observership, the supervising physician is responsible for ensuring that the clinical observer is complying with the ethical responsibilities set out in the Canadian Medical Association's Code of Ethics and Professionalism.


It is College policy that there should be no more than two clinical observers under the supervision of physicians in any one office location at one time. If the supervising physician practises in more than one clinic, they cannot supervise more than two clinical observers. A colleague can agree to act as the supervisor at alternate practice locations.

More information regarding the eligibility requirements for supervisors can be found here.

Eligibility requirements for supervisors

Contact the registration department for more information