Registrar’s Message

D.A. (Gus) Grant, AB, LLB, MD, CCFP, ICD.D
Registrar & CEO

Ensuring Safe & Competent Care

Access to care is our province’s most pressing issue, with many stakeholders leaning into the challenge. The College’s specific responsibility is to ensure that care, when accessed, is delivered by safe and competent physicians.

With jurisdictions around the world experiencing physician shortages, the recruitment of physicians trained outside of Canada (PTOC) is a global competition. It will take time to increase the number of domestically trained physicians. Until then, the successful recruitment of competent PTOCs is the primary means to immediately address physician shortages. 

The College is leading the country by offering a wider doorway and a shorter pathway for the licensure of physicians trained outside Canada and to expanding access to care.

Leading the Way

Nova Scotia is leading the country in our approach to international recruiting. With the support of the Registration Policy Committee, the College offers the widest doorway and shortest pathway for the licensure of PTOCs in Canada. In doing so, we have moved away from a singular reliance on high-stakes examinations, replacing them with direct observation by trained physician assessors. With the help of these physicians, long-term licensure can be granted to PTOCs after as little as six months of supervision, without The ongoing need to challenge certification examinations. This approach should provide a recruiting advantage to Nova Scotia. 

Physician extenders are playing an increasingly important role in the province, specifically through College-accredited physician assistant and clinical assistant programs. The College surveys, evaluates, and accredits all physician extender programs in the province and continues to do so quickly upon request. 

The College led the way in establishing the Atlantic Registry, which enables Fully licensed Atlantic physicians to opt into Full licensure in all Atlantic provinces. This streamlined approach does away with the previous requirement of obtaining a separate license for each province and is designed to facilitate physician mobility. Further, given expressions of interest from other provinces, the Atlantic Registry may well be a first step towards national licensure.  

Welcoming Physicians

PTOCs have identified the need for a robust orientation program to integrate them to practice in Nova Scotia. With funding support from the Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration, the College has launched the Welcome Collaborative. With participation from many stakeholder partners, the Welcome Collaborative’s mission is to set physicians up for success in practice in Nova Scotia. The program hopes to provide a retention advantage to Nova Scotia. 

American Board-certified physicians are now eligible for Full licensure in Nova Scotia, without the requirement for Royal College certification. Nova Scotia is the first province to do so. As well, Full licensure will also be available to international subspecialists without the need for base specialty certification from the Royal College.  We are confident these physicians are well-trained to deliver competent care, without a need for ongoing exams or certification, which can impede recruiting efforts.

The College is keen to collaborate with the government to ensure that the implementation of the Patient Access to Care Act is informed by the expertise of our profession.

Legislative Changes

The recent passage of the Patient Access to Care Act, which confers to government the authority to identify jurisdictions from which international physicians can be directly licensed in Nova Scotia, reflects the urgency of the times. The Act also confers to government the ability to expand the scope of practice of other regulated health professionals. The College is keen to collaborate with the government to ensure that the implementation of this Act is informed by the expertise of our profession.

I am grateful to all those who have leaned into the recruitment and support of new physicians. In particular, I refer to the public and physician members of the Registration Policy Committee, the assessor physicians, the mentoring physicians, the communities and the community navigators, all of whom give of themselves to enable safe care and to make our province welcoming to PTOCs.

I am also grateful to the newly arriving physicians, many of whom have arrived here having overcome considerable hardship and adversity. The College and the province will continue to invest in their success and welcome.