As jurisdictions across the country compete to remove licensing barriers in an effort to address chronic health care shortages, The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) has announced that it will be lifting some of the barriers that prevent qualified, internationally-educated physicians from practicing in Ontario.
Under the new policy, physicians who are trained and Board Certified in the U.S, will be able to complete their assessment process in one location instead of having to travel to multiple locations across the province. Additionally, the CPSO will be offering virtual assessments, allowing physicians to complete the process from anywhere in the world.
The CPSO’s decision to remove these barriers comes after years of advocacy from groups such as the Ontario Medical Association (OMA), who have long called for changes to the assessment process to make it easier for internationally educated physicians to practice in the province.
In a statement, the CPSO acknowledged that the current assessment process can be a significant obstacle for internationally educated physicians and said that the changes are designed to “help reduce some of the barriers that these physicians face when trying to obtain their license to practice medicine in Ontario.” CPSO is especially working to facilitate family physicians from Australia, Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States to practice in Ontario by eliminating supervision and assessment requirements for physicians who obtain certification from the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC), the national certification body, without further examination, allowing these physicians to immediately start independent practice.
The new policy is expected to have a significant impact on the province’s healthcare system, which has long struggled with physician shortages in many areas. According to the OMA, there are currently 13,000 foreign-trained physicians living in Ontario but not working in their field because of licensing hurdles and other barriers, while 15 percent of the province’s population, do not have regular access to a family doctor.
At a time when staff shortages are causing significant problems for Canadian patients, clinics and hospitals, CPSO’s decision has come as a blessing for many, including the OMA and the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS), which helps to match medical students and residents with residency programs across the country.
In a statement, the OMA said that the changes are “a positive step forward in making the medical profession more accessible and equitable for all.” CaRMS called the decision “a win for the healthcare system as a whole.”
The changes are set to come into effect on July 1, 2023, and the CPSO has said that it will be providing more information to internationally educated physicians in the coming months.