Doctors trained in U.S., other provinces will have mentors for year in Ontario to welcome moves here

Toronto Star
September 19, 2008

Noor Javed

Proposals approved yesterday by the College of Physicians and Surgeons will ease the path for doctors trained in other provinces and the U.S. to practise medicine in Ontario.

The policy, approved by an overwhelming majority, will decrease the hurdles qualified family doctors and specialists from North America face when trying to locate to the province.

This is the first of many steps the college is taking in conjunction with the province to deal with the shortage of doctors across Ontario.

“We know we have a problem with access to care, and this (is) one way we are trying to deal with it,” said Dr. Jeff Turnbull, from the college who led the task force to create the policy.

In June, legislation to fast-track foreign doctors was introduced in Ontario, which set out recommendations needed to improve access to care for patients and to help doctors struggling to find jobs. The bill is slated for second reading Monday.

The policy approved yesterday is one of many recommendations put forth in the bill.

“Today we’re seeing a significant move forward for those doctors who are already practising elsewhere in Canada and the U.S.,” said MPP Laurel Broten, who wrote the report that spurred the legislation.

“This is one part of our bigger plan to remove barriers for internationally trained doctors,” she said.

The new policy for doctors will take effect Dec. 1, and immediately begin to reduce the barriers.

Many of the “cumbersome” processes in place now force doctors to write exams, restrict their licences and require they undergo additional supervision, even though they have flourishing practices elsewhere in North America.

“Over the last few years, we have realized that those aren’t necessary. We can ensure competence and safe practice, yet make this an inviting jurisdiction so people can easily move from other places to ours,” said Turnbull.

Now a physician certified in the U.S. or other provinces, who has passed their national exams, would simply be paired with a mentor and, after a year, be given a performance assessment by the college.

“It’s faster, it’s easier, and there aren’t as many hoops to go through,” said Turnbull, adding the new policy is likely to bring hundreds of new physicians to Ontario.

The next step for the college is to look beyond North America for doctors, an idea the college accepted yesterday for further discussion.

Reference: Toronto Star