Top Family Medicine Residency Programs in Canada

Alisha Shibli
Jan. 8, 2021
8-minute read

Choosing family medicine opens a world of possibilities for you. Family physicians embody some of the top qualities of doctors–they’re skilled experts, inherent problem solvers, trusted counsellors, and charismatic leaders. Choosing one of the popular family medicine residency programs in Canada means choosing more–for your future patients and your professional growth.

Family Physicians Overview 

Family physicians are those that care for people of all ages–be it infants or your grandparents. The care they offer covers four different branches of medicine including:

  • Pediatrics
  • Adolescent medicine
  • Adult medicine
  • Geriatrics

Family physicians often care for the same patients throughout their lives. In fact, in many cases, they offer support to multiple generations of the same family at the same time. Family medicine is a lot about trust and connection that a doctor and patient share.

To practice family medicine, physicians must complete a two-year residency program after medical school. However, discussions are in place to increase this period so that doctors can develop the right skills and truly understand the length and breadth of family medicine.

“Health care has evolved quite a bit, with the growth of home-based care, collaborative care and team leadership. This evolution demands a relook to be sure that people are learning the right stuff in the right context,” said Nancy Fowler, executive director of academic family medicine at the CFPC.

Since family physicians tend to treat the widest variety of ages and medical conditions, your training will include pediatric medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine, emergency medicine, surgery, psychiatry, radiology, ophthalmology, urology and more. This is to ensure that you’re trained to diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions and diseases.

3 Reasons To Choose Family Medicine Residency Program in Canada

Family physicians often report a good level of professional satisfaction and a proper balance between their work life and personal life. Depending on the province and neighbourhood, the work hours and schedule can vary for each doctor. However, most enjoy a great level of flexibility and income options.

Here are three reasons why you should consider family medicine residency programs in Canada.

1. Great Work-Life Balance

One of the most attractive aspects of family medicine is that it offers a higher degree of flexibility as compared to other medical specialties. Since family physicians are needed everywhere, you can choose whether you want to work in an urban or rural setting. You can not only start your own practice, but also pick its environment and overall scope. This also gives you the opportunity to explore other career paths such as teaching, research, or volunteering. All these factors enable a rewarding and manageable balance with career, family life, and personal interests.

2. Integral To The Medical System

Family physicians act as ‘gatekeepers’ to all specialists in Canada. Rarely would a patient directly go to a cardiologist or a surgeon. This means that patients almost always need a referral from a family physician or an ER doctor before they see a specialist such as a gynecologist or a dermatologist. This ensures that there is always business for a family physician and they’re equipped to follow the basics of all aspects of patient care.

3. Overall Well-Being

Compared to most other medical specialties, family physicians see a lot more patients. For this reason, their well-being becomes a priority in ensuring a holistic and sustainable healthcare system. There are various elements that impact a doctor’s well-being such as career flexibility, the practice model type, work-life balance, and more. For example, the broad scope of practice is associated with lower levels of burnout which puts family physicians in a great space.

List Of Top Family Residency Programs In Canada

Take a look at our list of the top five family residency programs in Canada.

1. University of Toronto

Family residency forms the core component of learning at DFCM. You’ll see yourself as a family physician from day one. As a resident, you’ll spend eight months of your 24-month program in family medicine and continue half-days of family medicine during all rotations to promote continuity of care with patients. You can check out the program’s FAQ page for more information.

2. University of British Columbia

The University of British Columbia offers excellent, experienced, and award-winning family doctors as faculty to take you through your residency. While the program provides a solid foundation in the knowledge and clinical skills of family medicine, they kick it up a notch when it comes to training and teaching by offering special opportunities to gain experience and skills in particular areas of family medicine. 

3. McGill University

The McGill Family Medicine Department supports an exceptional community of primary health care professionals, researchers, and students. Their mission is to not just educate but also contribute to the health of the population in Canada and internationally. As a student, you’ll learn family medicine using innovative methods, research, and engage in international and global health activities.

4. Queen’s University

The Family Medicine Residency Program at Queen’s University is a flexible and innovative residency program fully accredited by the College of Family Physicians of Canada. It’s an award-winning program that is offered at four different training sites including:

  1. Kingston and 1000 Islands, 
  2. Belleville-Quinte, 

iii. Peterborough-Kawartha, and 

  1. Queen’s-Bowmanville-Oshawa-Lakeridge

Each site offers a unique curriculum, however, as a resident, you’ll complete the program as a competent and capable physician with all the necessary skills needed to practice family medicine anywhere in Canada.

5. University of Alberta

The University of Alberta teaches the discipline of family medicine through team-based, system-based, and socially accountable patient care and leadership. The faculty serves as role models for the students giving them excellent academic training. As a resident, you’ll also conduct clinical, educational, epidemiological, and health services research during your residency to get all-round training.


There will always be a need for family physicians so can rest assured that you’ll have plenty of opportunities in Canada to build a strong medical career. If this seems like the medical specialty you can thrive in, then check out the residency programs of the universities mentioned above and get started on your application.

Need help choosing a medical school? Check our list on the Top Medical Schools in Canada.

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by RBC Ventures Inc. or its affiliates.

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Alisha is a content marketing and communication specialist. She has a Master’s in Advertising and Marketing. She loves hoarding books and is always on the lookout for good newsletters. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.
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