President’s Message

African american male surgeon in surgical gown and cap tying on
Dr. Andria MacAulay, MD, CCFP, FCFP

Responding to the Changing World

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia has been under unprecedented pressure, as has all of our healthcare system. We have had to be nimble in our response to pressures from a beleaguered system while continuing to ensure patient safety and access. Our world has changed in many ways since 2019.

In March 2020, COVID-19 grabbed global attention, and the Public Health Agency of Canada identified it as a low health risk to Canadians. Days and weeks later, this changed dramatically. Little did we know at that point how this simple virus would trigger dramatic changes in the delivery of healthcare and force changes that might otherwise have taken decades to occur.

At the College level, we have had to make rapid changes in licensing requirements and professional standards. Virtual care was in its infancy pre-pandemic and is now forcing us to develop and continually re-examine our policies related to its provision.

Moving Forward

We have had to be nimble in our response to pressures from a beleaguered system while continuing to ensure patient safety and access.

We forge ahead, at times forgetting how much the pandemic changed our daily lives, the provision of healthcare, and the work of the College. We continue to hold true to our strategic plan. I believe that we do our best to “serve the public by effectively regulating the medical profession.” The committees meet regularly and do valuable work to support our strategic themes. Pressures from the public and the government have increased. We are facing the reality of virtual care, private clinics, physician shortages, and escalating burnout among those filling the gaps.

Positive initiatives have been put in place over the past year. I am happy to see that the new complaints process appears to be functioning well. We have introduced a new Welcome Collaborative to orient physicians new to practicing in Canada. We have supported an Atlantic Registry to improve physician mobility between provinces.

Access to Care

Recent media coverage has highlighted an Emergency department crisis throughout the province. Political announcements have been frequent over the past months, with many new changes being put in place to increase patient access to care.

There is pressure to license physicians without always a clear understanding of qualifications. Our registration policy has been flexible, always bearing in mind the need to ensure licensed physicians are capable and competent. We continue to lead the nation in these decisions, approving certification from the American Board of Medical Specialties as adequate to allow for Full licensure. Ontario followed quickly with the same determination.

Two doctors in conversation while walking up a staircase

Change & Progress

The recommendations from the report entitled “From the Inside: External Review into Systemic Anti-Black Racism Within the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia” are clear and need to be implemented. The current physician contract is being negotiated. All of these pressures must be considered and must shape our work going forward.

It is my hope that 2023 is a year of progress. It is my hope that a year from now, we can reflect on the positive changes and brave decisions that have been made to improve access to care and build our capacity to work in a culturally respectful, safe, and humble manner. It is my hope that we do not have to reflect on a new novel virus that has quietly changed the world. The work of the College will continue as it has despite the novel pressures of the last few years.