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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

MCC Cancels October MCCQE II Exams

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. 


New Professional Guideline Regarding Resumption of Services in Medical Practices during COVID-19

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many physicians discontinued or reduced many in-person non-essential and elective medical services and made practice accommodations to ensure patients received safe and timely care.

The flexibility and commitment of physicians during the COVID-19 pandemic has been critical in managing this public health emergency. The College thanks all physicians for their efforts in providing care using digital technology and limiting face-to-face contact to only urgent issues requiring physical examination of the patient.

Read more


Newly Graduated Canadian-trained PGTs Licences and Fees

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.


Scope of Practice During COVID-19

In this state of emergency, physicians may be asked by their Health Authority to contribute to the pandemic response in ways outside their normal scope of practice.

To support the pandemic response and the physician deployment plans of the Health Authorities, 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 within the NSHA and IWK (inpatient or outpatient settings); and
  • Physicians within COVID-19 assessment centres, engaged in activities 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.

These are uncertain and stressful times, with physicians raising their hands to help wherever needed.
Thank you for doing so.

Dr. D.A. (Gus) Grant
Registrar and CEO, College of Physicians & Surgeons of Nova Scotia


Restricted licences for recently retired physicians – limited to pandemic response as directed by NSHA and IWK

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.

Basic Criteria

To be 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.

College 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 registration@cpsns.ns.ca.


Telemedicine Resources

NSHA – Virtual Appointment Practice Guidelines & Implementation Guide

In response to the global pandemic declaration by the World Health Organization, implementation of these guidelines when providing care via telephone in your clinics is necessary:

  • Use professional judgement to determine whether patient consult via telephone is appropriate in a particular case.
  • Ensure the physical setting in which the care is provided provides for confidentiality.
  • Ensure patient safety by being aware of patient’s location and proximity of services
  • Request patient’s next of kin or alternate support person in the case of an emergency.
  • During telephone appointments we are unable to complete a physical assessment therefore, we are relying on the patient to provide us accurate information. Keeping this in mind, documentation is vital.
  • Call 911 or follow standard emergency protocols for an immediate emergency response as needed.

Please read the full Virtual Care Guideline document from NSHA.

NSHA – COVID-19 Virtual Visit Implementation Guide

This document is intended to:

  • Assist providers in developing a plan to integrate virtual visits into their practice;
  • Advise on the types of services where virtual visits should be considered under the current circumstances.

Please read the full Virtual Visit Implementation Guide.