How foreign-trained veterinarians can put their valuable skills to use in Canada

The skills and knowledge of foreign-trained doctors of veterinary medicine (DVMs) are badly needed across Canada.

Career Success and Planning,In-demand Jobs

September 1, 2022

Estimated reading time: 3.5 minutes

In summary:

  • The skills of foreign-trained veterinarians are in demand, across Canada, and are expected to remain so in the years ahead.
  • Internationally-educated veterinarians need to become licensed to practice in this country.
  • It is important to research what veterinary medicine practice in Canada entails, how it is different from your country of origin and to familiarize yourself with the techniques and terms used here.

The skills and knowledge of foreign-trained doctors of veterinary medicine (DVMs) are desperately needed across Canada.

According to the federal government, and Windmill Microlending’s Trending Jobs Report, job prospects for veterinarians are in-demand due to increased pet ownership across Canada and the growing importance of animal agriculture. Another reason for internationally-trained DVMs, to be excited about the abundance of opportunity is the significant earning potential. Depending on where you live, and the nature of your veterinary work, your income as a veterinarian can reach up to $140,000 per year.

How to become a veterinarian in Canada: The veterinary licensing process

Veterinary medicine is a regulated occupation in Canada. This means that internationally-educated veterinarians need to become licensed to practice in this country. Before they can apply for their general practice licence, they need to complete the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association’s (CVMA) National Examining Board (NEB) process. This assesses whether a foreign-trained veterinarian is as qualified as a graduate of an accredited veterinary medical school in Canada.

Once they are assessed by the NEB, they must earn a Certificate of Qualification (CQ), which allows them to move forward in the licensing process set out by the regulatory body in their province. Those seeking training or professional development courses should ensure they are enrolled in a North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) accredited program.

Want to understand how to navigate the veterinary licensing process and become a veterinarian in Canada? Download Windmill’s free Educational Pathways for Skilled Newcomers today.

Windmill partner, VetStrategy, is Canada’s largest veterinary practice network, offering a wide range of career opportunities in various animal health clinics and hospitals. They also provide extensive support to internationally-qualified veterinarians empowering them to reach their career goals in Canada. Windmill spoke with VetStrategy team members, Serena Nashed, Global Mobility Coordinator, and Renee Mastalerz, Director, Talent Acquisition Operations, to offer advice to foreign-trained veterinarians. They recommend these five steps to help you advance through the veterinarian licensing process in Canada.

VetStrategy logo

Windmill partner and Ontario-based, VetStrategy, supports foreign-trained veterinarians to launch their careers in Canada.

Step #1: Start the National Examining Board (NEB) process

Foreign-trained doctors of veterinary medicine (DVMs) should start the NEB process as soon as possible, in advance of or when they arrive in Canada. It can be a long and costly process, but it opens the doors to otherwise inaccessible career opportunities.

Can Windmill Microlending help you pay for the costs of qualifying exams or credential evaluations in Canada? Find out if you are eligible for a microloan, of up to $15,000, from us. Take our online two-minute loan eligibility quiz, today.

Step #2: Build your understanding of the veterinary medicine practice in Canada

Research what veterinary medicine practice in Canada looks like and familiarize yourself with the techniques and terms used. There are many online resources available to you. Alternatively, if you’re a foreign-trained DVM with an open work permit, and have not yet initiated the NEB process, you may find some work opportunities in a VetStrategy animal hospital as a DVM assistant (until you complete the NEB process to obtain full licensing). This will enable you to gain Canadian experience and knowledge of veterinary medicine and practices in this country.

Step #3: Strengthen your professional network

Be sure to network and keep in contact with your DVM colleagues, globally. This can open doors and provide you with career opportunities in the future. When possible, look for foreign-trained veterinarians who have completed the licensure process in Canada and talk with them about their experiences and advice.

Step #4: Explore the range of career possibilities

Upon passing the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE), candidates who qualify for a restrictive Canadian licence may find coaching opportunities within the VetStrategy network and work alongside experienced DVMs until they obtain a full licence. By joining the VetStrategy network, you have the opportunity to join one of its 360+ clinics across Canada.

However, to increase Canadian career opportunities, internationally-trained DVMs should work toward obtaining a Certificate of Qualification (CQ) by completing the NEB exams and requirements. By doing so, you will be eligible to apply for a general practice licence in any Canadian province. Completing the NEB process can take as little as twelve months if you pass all exams on the first attempt.

Below are some links and resources to help you pursue your veterinary licence to practice in Canada.

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