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Bridging Programs

A pharmacy bridging program consists of educational courses offered by a recognized Canadian institution designed specifically for international pharmacy graduates (IPGs). These programs will help you acquire the knowledge and skills you need to meet Canadian practice standards.

Learners are taught about all elements of pharmacy practice as outlined in the Professional Competencies for Canadian Pharmacists at Entry to Practice. Bridging programs also cover many other topics which are important to IPGs. These topics may include language and communication, Canadian culture, professional behaviours and orientation to the Canadian healthcare system. Programs usually include a combination of independent study, seminars, case-studies, role-playing and simulated work experiences.

Studies have shown that internationally-educated professionals who complete a bridging program increase their chances of success and they are more likely to find employment in their field. (SP Consulting and The Whetstone Group, 2008. Financial assistance for immigrant training [FAIT]. Ottawa; ON.)

Participants in the International Pharmacy Graduate (IPG) Program “report reduced feelings of isolation, an enhanced sense of community, and increased opportunities for professional networking.” (Austin Z, Dean MR. Bridging education for foreign-trained professionals. The International Pharmacy Graduate (IPG) Program in Canada. Teaching in Higher Education, 11(1), 19-32)

In order to complete a bridging program, you will first need to pass the PEBC Evaluating Exam, except in the province of Quebec. In order to submit an application to the bridging program offered in Quebec, candidates must have received the results of their training and education equivalency assessment. Candidates in Quebec are not required to complete the PEBC Evaluating Exam prior to application.

Why Should I Consider Enrolling in a Bridging Program?

Bridging programs are extremely helpful to all international pharmacy graduates who are new to Canada. These programs will help you prepare for the Canadian certification exams and will help you become much more familiar and comfortable with Canadian practice and a pharmacist’s role.

In some cases, a licensing authority may decide that you require additional training before you can qualify for a licence. By completing a bridging program, you will be able to satisfy many of those requirements.

Benefits of Bridging Programs

  • Increases the chances of success in licensing exams; regulated professions have reported significantly higher pass rates for those who complete a bridging program.
  • Increases IPGs’ awareness of the realities of the Canadian practice setting.
  • Increases IPGs’ understanding of differences in professional roles, regulatory requirements and client service relationships.
  • Increases professional and social interactions for IPGs and develops networks within the profession.

This is what some IPGs have said after completing a bridging program:

“The IPG program has totally changed my approach towards Canadian community pharmacy. I feel very confident in practising pharmacy. It has really brushed up my skills and knowledge about pharmacy. I want to say it was a wonderful experience and I am proud of myself that I made that decision and went for the course.”

The IPG program helped me a lot with the clinical aspect of pharmacy practice in Canada. I've learned that there is more to pharmacy practice than retail and it helped me understand the significant role that pharmacists play in society. It makes me proud of my profession. The program is a huge part of my success.”

English Bridging Programs

Two university-based bridging programs are available for international pharmacy graduates (IPGs) who wish to practise in a province or territory other than Quebec:

  • International Pharmacy Graduate (IPG) Program offered by the University of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario
    • The IPG Program is a 30-week intensive course designed to assist pharmacists trained in countries outside Canada, to meet Canadian entry-to-practice standards. The IPG Program is comprised of two 14-week modules: Canadian Pharmacy Skills I and Canadian Pharmacy Skills II. There is a 2-week break between the two modules.
    • The program covers such topics as pharmacotherapy, pharmacy practice and the Canadian healthcare system. Learners will also learn critical language, workplace, and patient care skills necessary for licensure in Canada.
    • The program is divided into 9 blocks alternating between on-site and online courses.
    • The cost for the bridging program is $13,650 (plus 13% HST). Financial assistance may be available for those who qualify. More information on tuition is available on their website.
  • Canadian Pharmacy Practice Programme offered by the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, British Columbia
    • This program consists of several modules and is designed to be interactive and ensure that students participate in “hands-on” learning.
    • The 24-week program includes 12 weeks of classroom instruction, followed by 12.5 weeks of practicum. The program is based upon courses in the undergraduate pharmacy program at the University of British Columbia.
    • At the end of the program, students participate in a one-day simulated objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) experience, similar to the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (PEBC) Qualifying Exam format.
    • The cost of the bridging program is $12,750.
  • French Bridging Program

Université de Montréal in Montréal, Quebec, offers a 16-month (64 credits) specialized program for international pharmacy graduates (IPGs).

    • This program includes mandatory classes, labs and professional practice placements. Candidates who successfully complete this program will be granted educational equivalency by l’Ordre des pharmaciens du Québec (OPQ).
    • In order to apply you must be recommended by OPQ.
    • The program is offered once each year, starting in September.
    • The program is offered to a limited number of students each year. 
    • The total cost of this program is between $8,000 and $10,000 (approximately).