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Message from the Registrar: Guidance to Physicians Regarding Medical Exemptions for COVID-19 Vaccinations

Throughout Nova Scotia, many organizations are requiring that all staff and visitors be vaccinated against COVID-19.  It is not unreasonable to expect that, in response, physicians will be asked to provide medical notes for patients who have chosen not to be vaccinated.

As physicians continue to work to mitigate any further spread of COVID-19, the College aims to support their leadership with clear guidance on their responsibilities in this circumstance.  Physicians must only support requests for a medical exemption from COVID-19 vaccination for patients with a legitimate medical condition that would warrant an exemption.  

The office of the Chief Medical Officer advises the following are valid medical contraindications to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine… Read more.


Scope of Practice for Physicians Deployed in Response to COVID-19

We wish to express our appreciation to all physicians who have been deployed by Nova Scotia Health or IWK to contribute to the pandemic response in ways outside their normal scope of practice. As the province moves through the third wave of the pandemic, physicians have continued to demonstrate leadership in their commitment to providing care. 

These continue to be stressful times, with physicians raising their hands to help wherever needed. We wish to reassure physicians the College will not hold deployed physicians to practice within a scope strictly consistent with recent training and experience.

This approach applies to physicians privileged and working under the direction of Nova Scotia Health, the IWK (inpatient or outpatient settings), and/or the Chief Medical Officer of Health’s office. This may include, but is not limited to, work within COVID-19 primary assessment centres, case tracing and monitoring, provision of vaccinations, and COVID-19 testing as deployed by the health authorities.

Rest assured, if you are deployed by your Health Authority to work outside your normal scope of practice, be advised you will not face disciplinary measures from the College for practising outside your scope of practice.

We thank you for your service.


Scope of Practice & Physician Deployment During COVID-19

Given the public health directives in response to the recent increase in COVID cases, licensed physicians may be asked by their Health Authority to contribute to the pandemic response in ways outside their normal scope of practice. The College wishes to reassure physicians its support of this measure.

When deployed by a Health Authority to support the pandemic response, the College will not hold physicians to practice within a scope strictly consistent with recent training and experience. 

This approach applies to Physicians privileged and working under the direction of NSH,  the IWK (inpatient or outpatient settings), and/or the Chief Medical Officer of Health’s office.  This may include, but is not limited to, work within COVID-19 primary assessment centres, case tracing and monitoring, provision of vaccinations, and COVID-19 testing as deployed by the health authorities.

To restate: if you are deployed by your Health Authority to work outside your normal scope of practice, be advised you will not face disciplinary measures from the College for practising outside your scope of practice.


Emergency licensure available to support COVID-19 Immunization

Retired physicians within three years of practice may be eligible for an Emergency Licence. The College is working closely with Nova Scotia Health to license those retired physicians wishing to assist in the COVID-19 immunization efforts. There is no fee for this emergency licensure. A streamlined process is in place to quickly issue such licences.

Physicians who are interested in supporting immunization clinics have been asked by Nova Scotia Health to complete please complete the Covid-19 immunization intake form.


Pandemic-Related Exceptions to MCCQE Part II

The College has instituted a new policy in recognition of the postponement of the Medical Council of Canada’s Qualifying Examinations Part II. As a result of this exam delay, a number of physicians are unable to meet the requirements of obtaining LMCC for Full licensure. 

The College’s Pandemic-Related Exceptions to the Requirement for the MCCQE Part II Policy allows exceptions for those who were affected by the postponement of this qualifying examination. Review the new policy.

Currently, Nova Scotia is the only province with such an exemption and therefore we encourage postgraduate trainees to continue to challenge the MCCQE Part II as it becomes available so as not to limit their licensing options throughout Canada.


Covid-19 Measures for Physicians

This Fall in Nova Scotia we have not experienced the significant number of COVID-19 cases as elsewhere in Canada. 

Physicians across the province are playing key leadership roles in safely caring for patients during the pandemic. The College expects that physicians in all practice settings adhere to the direction provided by public health regarding safety protocols and to clinical guidelines developed by health professionals.

We are truly grateful to patients and physicians who continue to take all measures necessary to protect the health of Nova Scotians.


COVID-19: Leaders from the Health Community Identify Lessons from the First Wave and Concerns for the Second

On October 2, 2020, Dalhousie’s Faculty of Medicine and the MacEachen Institute for Public Policy and Governance (MIPP) hosted a roundtable at which 27 people met online to discuss what went well and what lessons were identified from the health sector’s response to COVID-19. Participants included senior representatives from both the public health and healthcare systems of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, as well as academics. Most of the participants were from Nova Scotia, which was the focus of most of the discussion. 

The briefing note starts by highlighting selected observations that were drawn from these discussions, and summarize the goals and methods and the discussions that took place at the session. 

Read the briefing note: COVID-19: Leaders from the Health Community Identify Lessons from the First Wave and Concerns for the Second


NSHA Health Care Worker Self-Screening

Health care workers are required to complete the daily self-screening using the Active Monitoring Tool available on the COVID-19 Hub. Any health care worker who develops symptoms compatible with COVID-19 is directed to NOT report to work and to contact Occupational Health Safety and Wellness at 1-833-750-0632 for screening. Managers and clinical leaders will strictly enforce this requirement.

COVID-19 symptoms include:

  • Fever (chills, sweats)
  • Cough (New/Worsening)
  • Sore Throat
  • Runny Nose/ Nasal Congestion
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Unexplained headache