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Working as a Physician

Job Description

Working as a General practitioner and family physician you will perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Assess patients to diagnose problems
  • Recommend treatment, such as medication, surgery, or rehabilitation
  • Treat patients or refer them to other health care workers
  • Provide emergency care
  • Perform and assist in routine surgery
  • Deliver babies and provide pre-natal and post-natal care
  • Specialize in a particular area of medicine

Source: Career Cruising database (Profile for Family Practitioner).

Related occupations include:

  • Chiropractors (NOC 3122)
  • Naturopathic physicians and osteopathic physicians (in NOC 3123 Other Professional Occupations in Health Diagnosing and Treating)
  • Specialist Physicians (NOC 3111)

Source: NOC 3112

Industry Overview

There are many opportunities throughout the province of BC for physicians who wish to operate a family practice.

The Government of British Columbia has increased opportunities for medical education in the province.

  • University of British Columbia
  • University of Victoria
  • University of Northern British Columbia

Physicians who move to rural communities to practise may receive incentives such as signing bonuses, student loan reductions, fee-for-service and flat sum premiums, or travel subsidies. Approximately a quarter of all practising physicians in BC are international medical graduates.

Job Outlook in BC

General Practitioners and Family Physicians (NOC 3112)

employment opportunities for general practitioners and family physicians

Chart from WorkBC

The Employment Outlook for BC provides job openings projections for General Practitioners and Family Physicians within BC regions:

Region 2010 Estimated Employment 2015 Estimated Employment Avg Annual % Change, 5 Years, 2010 to 2015
Vancouver Island 1,220 1,380 2.5%
Lower Mainland / Southwest 4,720 5,250 2.2%
Thompson-Okanagan 620 690 2.4%
Kootenay 170 200 3.2%
Cariboo 180 220 4.0%
North Coast & Nechako 110 120 3.2%
Northeast 70 80 4.1%

Source: Regional Employment Projections, BC Stats. Projections for development regions [accessed October 2014]

You can learn more about working as a physician in BC from this source:

Types of Employers

General practitioners and family physicians usually work in private practice, including group or team practices, hospitals, and clinics.

Senior physicians may also work as hospital administrators, teach and / or conduct research at educational institutions, or work for government health authorities and other health related organizations.


The average annual salary for physicians in BC ranges between $95,000 and $125,000. Physicians with a specialization make more than generalists. The amount of money that doctors earn is largely determined by the government.

Most general practitioners and family physicians are self-employed, which means they run their own clinic or office. They are paid directly by the government, and the amount they make depends on how many patients they see and the medical procedures they perform. Self-employed doctors have to spend some of their income on office expenses, supplies, insurance premiums and staff, therefore; their net incomes are less than the amount received from the government.

Salaried physicians who work for hospitals and other medical organizations receive benefits in addition to their salaries. Benefits may include health and life insurance, pension plans, and paid vacation and sick days. Doctors who work for themselves must supply their own benefits.

From Career Cruising database (Profile for Family Practitioner).

General Practitioners and Family Physicians in BC’s regions can expect to earn:
general practitioners and family physicians regional wage
Source:  Job Bank Canada

Working Hours

Physicians often work irregular hours, including nights and weekends. They may also be on-call 24 hours a day when required to respond to emergencies. Resident physicians generally work long hours, which could be up to 60 hours per week.

Skills, Education and Experience


  • strong communication and interpersonal skills
  • strong analytical skills and a background in the sciences
  • energetic personality
  • patient, compassionate and enjoy helping people of all ages and backgrounds
  • willing to keep up-to-date with rapid changes in the field of health.
  • able to work under stress
  • decisive

Education and Experience

Physicians require:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Graduation from an approved medical school and
  • Two to three years of family medicine residency training are required
  • Completion of the qualifying examinations of the Medical Council of Canada
    (MCC Evaluating Examination, MCC Qualifying Examination Parts 1 & 2)


Physician is a regulated profession in British Columbia

In British Columbia, registration with the College of Physicians & Surgeons of British Columbia (CPSBC) is required.

  • Licensing & registration can be found at CPSBC

Family physicians must pass a national exam administered by the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

International Medical Graduates (IMG)

An international medical graduate is an individual who has trained in a medical school outside of Canada and/or the United States. For consideration of licensure, an IMG must be a Canadian citizen, a Permanent Resident, a Landed Immigrant or have full Refugee Status, in addition to a full evaluation of their training.

In addition to such general requirements as language proficiency, good character, and appropriate professional references, Canadian requirements for full medical licensure include an MD (or equivalent) university degree, successful completion of a set of national Canadian examinations and, depending on the chosen medical discipline or specialty, two to six years of “accredited and approved” post-graduate training with successful end-point accreditation exams.

Temporary (provisional) licensure may be granted to an IMG prior to completion of the above exams if he/she has completed post-graduate training of appropriate length in an accredited and approved program

The Medical Council of Canada (MCC) is responsible for the provision of the examinations which form the basic standard for qualification to practise medicine in Canada. Further information on the MCC Examinations, including the application process, dates and locations the MCC Evaluating Examination is held both inside and outside Canada.

Finding Jobs

You’ll find job advertisements in local newspapers, trade journals, and electronic sources, as well as through professional associations’ publications.

Local Newspapers

You can look at the Vancouver Sun & The Province at Vancouver Public Library for free. Check the job postings daily, the careers section in the Vancouver Sun on Wednesdays and Saturdays and in The Province on Sundays.

Job White Pages

  • Available online or in print at the Central Library
    NOTE: Access at VPL locations only

Online Job Postings

BC has five regional health authorities that provide acute care and community programs (acute care hospitals, mental health, public health, addictions, and home and community care services).

    Postings for locums, walk-in clinics, and permanent physician positions

Professional Associations’ Career Resources

Identifying the Right Position

When you browse job advertisements, you’ll find a range of different job titles that are relevant.

For physicians, look for these related job titles (from NOC):

  • family physician
  • general practitioner (GP)
  • medical doctor
  • resident, general practice

Creating a List of Potential Employers

You can use directories to produce lists of employers who work in the healthcare sector in Vancouver or the Lower Mainland. Contact them directly to find out if they’re hiring. You can photocopy from the print directories at Central Library, or use the online directories from a computer connected to the Internet.

  • Directory of Canadian Healthcare Personnel
    See section covering hospitals and long term care facilities in BC.
    Available at the Central Library, 362.11025 C21a
  • Guide to Canadian Health Care Facilities
    See section covering hospitals, long term care and health care facilities in BC.
    Available at the Central Library, 362.105 C212ca
  • Reference Canada
    Click on “Start Search” beside Canadian Businesses, then select the “Advanced Search” button.
    Select both “Keyword/SIC/NAICS” under Business Type and “City” under Geography.
    In the top search box enter “physicians” or “hospitals” and click LOOKUP.
    Select the appropriate headings.
    Lower down, select the Province, choose the cities, and click the “View Results” button.
    NOTE: You can access this database from a Library computer. If you are using a computer from outside the Library, you will need a Vancouver Public Library card to login to this database. After clicking on the database name, you will be asked to enter your library card number and PIN (usually last four digits of your telephone number).

Applying for a Job

In Canada, employers usually expect to receive a resume (curriculum vitae) and a cover letter that identifies the position you are applying for and summarizes your relevant experience.
Use the library catalogue to find books on writing resumes and cover letters specific to your industry.

To learn about applying for jobs in Canada, see the following:

Getting Help from Industry Sources

Industry Associations

Associations for physicians in BC and Canada provide assistance to individuals. Registration and fees are required for membership.

  • Doctors of BC (BC Medical Association BCMA)
    Doctors of BC (formerly the BCMA) promotes a social, economic, and political climate in which members can provide the citizens of BC with the highest standard of health care while achieving maximum professional satisfaction and fair economic reward. Physicians’ membership in BCMA is voluntary.
  • College of Physicians & Surgeons of British Columbia (CPSBC)
    The College is a statutory body whose existence and function are defined by the Medical Practitioners Act and the Rules made under the Medical Practitioners Act. The College is composed of all physicians registered and licensed in the province and entitled to practise medicine.
  • HealthMatch BC
    Health Match BC is a health care recruitment service funded by the Government of British Columbia. It recruits on behalf of over 100 health care facilities across the province.

Industry Journals

Search the Vancouver Public Library catalogue for journals related to your profession. Examples at the Central Library: