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.
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.
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.
The MCC’s cancellation of the October sitting of the MCCQE II has impacted physicians across the country. We recognize the concerns of postgraduate trainees, newly graduated postgraduate trainees and physicians on a Defined licence who all are required to obtain the MCCQE II. We understand the challenges and ramifications of this examination postponement. Those physicians impacted are assured of ongoing licensure and the ability to practise in Nova Scotia.
We have heard issues raised regarding logistical challenges as well as questions regarding the relevance of the MCCQE II. The cancellation and its impact on physicians have prompted the College to review the MCCQE II as it relates to licensing. This review is being undertaken in a thorough and expedited manner. Addressing these issues is a priority for the College.
The College will be providing updates as soon as available.
The College is evoking measures available under the Medical Act, to ensure graduating PGTs receive licensure. The College has made every effort to align with legislated requirements while minimizing the impact on PGTs in this extraordinary time. This includes waiving fees for supervision, instituting basic minimal supervision, and waiving fees associated with the review of qualifications.
The College is evoking measures available under the Medical Act, to ensure graduating PGTs receive licensure. The College can issue provisional licensure, also referred to as a defined licence, to graduating PGTs. This licence type requires sponsorship and supervision. Read more.
Recently retired Nova Scotia physicians can apply for a restricted licence to help in the pandemic response at no cost. This restricted licence is time-limited and specific to addressing the response to COVID-19 as directed by NSHA and IWK.
eligible you must:
- Have had a full licence at the time of retirement in Nova Scotia (not provisional or restricted)
- Have practised in Nova Scotia within the last 3 years
- Plan to work within your scope of practice
- Obtain Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA) coverage
- Provide consent to share your licensing information with the NSHA or IWK
This work is under the direction of NSHA and IWK. This licence is valid until June 30, 2020, and end date will be reviewed at that time.
staff will work with you to review your licensing history and speak with you
about your intention to work during the pandemic.
For questions contact email@example.com.
(The following was published in the Chronicle Herald March 14, 2020)
These are nervous times. As we await the first case of COVID-19 in our province, fear and confusion could easily overwhelm us. There are, however, important reminders and reassurances to offset our anxiety.
Unlike many other countries affected by this pandemic, Canada has a robust public health system. In Nova Scotia, we have the necessary expertise and infrastructure to respond well to this challenge.
It is now time to rely on expertise. We must summon the discipline to resist the inexpert advice that is abundantly available through any number of unreliable information sources. Those of us who are not experts must be careful to avoid offering opinions. If our province’s response to the inevitable arrival of COVID-19 is going to be effective, it is incumbent on all to follow the advice of our public health experts. They are providing the leadership; it is our responsibility to follow.
First and foremost, we must embrace the common-sense recommendations from the experts. Wash your hands, well and often. Resist or limit touching your face with your hands. Disinfect surfaces. Observe social distancing. Avoid large, close gatherings. If you can, work from home. If you are sick, do not go into work. If returning from travel, observe the self-isolation recommendations. These measures might seem small and inconsequential in the face of a pandemic. The experts tell us otherwise.
Patients are encouraged to pursue advice from 811. This service provides important triage, directing patients to the appropriate next step. By bypassing 811 and pursuing direct care or in-person advice, patients put the community at risk, the health professionals themselves at risk, and threaten to overwhelm the system. Bypassing the simple step of calling 811 might heighten the problem and weaken the collective response.
Patients should not worry about their medications. The College of Pharmacists and the province will have contingency plans in place, allowing for access to prescription medications in the event that some pharmacies need to close.
Although there is appropriate concern that a rapid outbreak may overwhelm our health-care physical and human resources, physician mobility will not be an issue in our country’s response to the pandemic. The College has activated its business continuity plan to ensure the licensing of physicians will continue to be carried out in a thorough and timely manner.
With respect to emergency medical licensing, the provincial colleges have reached a consensus. Nova Scotian physicians seeking to help in pandemic response in other provinces may do so without hassle. Similarly, physicians from other provinces wishing to support our local response can be licensed on an emergent basis immediately. Physicians recently retired in Nova Scotia wishing to participate in the pandemic response should contact the College to determine if their licences can be reinstated for this purpose. Physicians travelling to respond to the pandemic elsewhere in the country should be aware that their liability coverage will remain in place.
The College is aware that the Medical Council of Canada, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, and the College of Family Physicians of Canada all are contemplating making changes to their examination schedules. The licensure of physicians in training and provisionally licensed physicians will not be affected by any examination changes. They will be maintained in provisional licensure.
The situation is fluid. Both physicians and patients are well advised to stay current with the latest developments of the pandemic through public health at: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/.
The Nova Scotia Health Authority is maintaining active updates at: www.nshealth.ca/news. It is also providing information regarding COVID-19 assessment centres at: www.nshealth.ca/coronavirus.
Nova Scotians are good at preparing for storms. We heed the weather warnings. We batten down the hatches. We stay safe. We do the right things. I am confident we can apply this approach to COVID-19.
Dr. Gus Grant is registrar & CEO of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia.
The College has been advised that the Medical Council of Canada, Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons of Canada, and the College of Family Physicians of Canada have postponed their examinations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you are registered for one of these examinations, be assured that this will not negatively affect your medical licensure.
If you are provisionally licensed at present, your provisional licensure will be extended.
If you are the end of training, and contemplating independent practice, you will be considered eligible for provisional licensure.
If you have any questions please contact the College’s Registration Department at: firstname.lastname@example.org.