Atlantic Canada is the “perfect place” for a regional licensing model, says PEI Medical Society leader
The head of the PEI Medical Society thinks a regional licensing program for doctors in Atlantic Canada is a good idea.
dr Krista Cassell narrates island morning Host Laura Chapin that allowing doctors to work in all Atlantic provinces without additional permit requirements will help improve access to care for islanders.
“PEI is small and occasionally we look for other people to come and give [a] either fill gaps in our schedules, work as surrogates, or provide virtual care,” she said.
Cassell said doctors currently need a license in every province they wish to practice in — whether they work full-time, part-time, or virtually. She said the paperwork is tedious and involves a lengthy application and a substantial fee.
“More flexibility and portability of medical licensing, which will increase our pool of doctors available to care for islanders,” she said.
She also noted that the program is good for long-term employee attraction and retention.
“We know that having people come here and work is really good for the recruitment and retention efforts,” she said. “Not only do we hold our current positions a little better when we have a little more help, but we can show people a place to practice that they wouldn’t otherwise have considered.”
More portability of physician licenses is one of the discussions that has emerged from Ottawa’s new provincial health deal. The president of the Canadian Medical Association has also previously identified provincial licensing as a barrier to physicians.
Register by May 1st
During a meeting of Atlantic Premiers in Charlottetown on Monday, the Premiers said they expect the Atlantic Physician Register to be in place by June 1.
Details of how the registry will work are not yet known, but Cassell suggested that a program like this could work if doctors are licensed in their home province and then express an interest in registering for another practice in the area.
“Because Atlantic Canada is so small, this really is a perfect place to try. You know, we’re going to learn lessons if we try to roll this out,” she said.
“Atlantic Canada really is an excellent proving ground that will help us expand this across the country.”
In addition to increasing the number of doctors available to provide in-person medical care on PEI, Cassell said the registry could also have a positive impact on virtual care services, which she says have already gained popularity during the pandemic.
“This is a space that’s opening up a lot more now, so it’s even possible that we could have access to specialists that we might not have had access to before without leaving the island,” she said.
CBC News reached out to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of PEI — which administers medical licensing for the province — but heard no response.
Health PEI declined to comment, leaving the Medical Society to discuss regional licensing.