NATIONAL

Is your doctor sharp enough: a test will tell

CATHY GULLI August 13 2007
NATIONAL

Is your doctor sharp enough: a test will tell

CATHY GULLI August 13 2007

Is your doctor sharp enough: a test will tell

CATHY GULLI

Overworked doctors will now have one more thing to do: demonstrate that they are up to the job. Physicians and surgeons are being forced to prove their competence every year as medical regulatory authorities in each province implement mandatory “continuing professional development” programs. Quebec, Saskatchewan and Ontario are among the first to switch from the voluntary model. Doctors have to complete one of several programs, which require written reflections on their work and participation in activities such as conferences.

The call for mandatory programs goes back a few years to British medical scandals involving public safety, which became a hot topic among regulators. But not everyone is excited. “There’s been significant push back,” says Dr. Doug Blackman, president of the Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada. “Much of that flows from misunderstanding. Doctors felt threatened that non-compliance could lead to immediate revocation [of their licence].” In fact, doctors who don’t meet requirements will first face a process such as peer review, and receive remedial advice.

Others worry that provincial programs will be so different doctors will be prohibited from practising in other parts of the country.

Blackman believes this won’t happen because the provinces work together. “We don’t want to impede mobility,” he says. And some observers actually want more peer reviews of doctors—a timely, costly procedure.

But the most common concern is that the programs will make more work for busy doctors. “We’re mindful that there is a serious physician shortage,” says Dr. Suzanne Strasberg, chair of the committee on revalidation for the Ontario Medical Association. “We need to make sure the programs aren’t overly onerous or time-consuming.” Nl