Nova Scotia

Medical regulators have learned to adapt in the times of COVID

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia has streamlined licensing processes in several cases to reflect challenges facing the system.

Licensing processes for some doctors had to speed up out of necessity

Dr. Gus Grant is the registrar of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia. (CBC)

COVID-19 has forced many aspects of the health-care system to adapt and the same has been true on the regulatory side during the last year.

"I think that regulators have been forced to act quickly and have learned that we can act quickly," Dr. Gus Grant, registrar of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia, said in an interview.

In Nova Scotia, those actions included creating a streamlined process for emergency licensing of retired doctors so they could help with efforts related to the pandemic.

The college also had to respond to cancelled licensing exams for medical residents to allow them to be able to work, something else that happened quickly, said Grant.

The Nova Scotia college has also entered into streamlined licensing agreements with other provinces.

In recent years, some doctors have called for a national, or at least regional, approach to licensing to make it easier for physicians to move between provinces to work, whether for a short period of time or longer.

The pandemic has slowed those talks, but Grant said there are obvious improvements that have developed out of necessity.

"We can't be grateful for COVID, but I think the last year has improved licensure processes around the country. They happen faster, with less administrative burden and without any compromise of safety."

While he doesn't know what the timing will look like for any further changes, Grant said he does believe interprovincial movement for doctors "will get increasingly easy."

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