Proposed B.C. change could put foreign-trained doctors to work during coronavirus pandemic

The organization that regulates B.C.’s doctors is considering a move that could allow more foreign-trained physicians to work.

The proposed changes by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia would create a new registration class called “associate physician.”

Associate physicians would have to practise under the supervision of a fully-certified doctor, would only be able to work in teams, and would not be licensed for independent practice.

The college says similar registration classes exist in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Nova Scotia.

In order to qualify, applicants would need to have a medical degree, at least two years of postgraduate training in a medical or surgical specialty, and have completed Licentiate of the Medical Council of Canada qualifying exams.

Former NDP MLA Harry Lali has been among the voices calling for B.C.’s registration requirements for doctors eased as the COVID-19 pandemic strains health-care resources.

On Thursday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry appeared cool to the idea of changing the way the province certifies its doctors.

“A time of crisis is not necessarily the time we want to modify the requirements people need to have to ensure they can practise in a safe way in this province,” Dr. Henry said.

The college says the proposed changes were included in new draft bylaws drawn up in 2019, but that Minister of Health Adrian Dix had asked it to post them on March 31 with a sped-up timeline for consultation.

That consultation period will now close on April 15.

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