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CPSA announces new pilot project to accelerate registration of internationally-trained physicians

Media Release, Physicians, Registration | Posted October 4, 2022

Additional route intended to get IMGs into their Alberta communities sooner

At an emergency Council meeting held at the end of September, CPSA Council approved a five-year pilot project to implement an additional route to registration for international medical graduates (IMGs) trained in certain jurisdictions. The goal of the pilot is to evaluate whether certain IMGs may begin independently practicing in their identified communities faster, while still ensuring patient safety is the top priority.

“We recognize the healthcare system is struggling to meet the health care demand that exists in Alberta,” says Dr. Scott McLeod, CPSA Registrar and CEO. “While our current assessment process for getting IMGs licensed and practising in Alberta already produces the highest number of assessments in the country, we felt it was important to work with the Minister of Health and other partners to consider new ways to accelerate our process and get internationally-trained physicians safely into their communities faster.”

CPSA’s Practice Readiness Assessment (PRA) is the final step to independent practice in Alberta for those who do not have complete Canadian credentials. Once an IMG has met eligibility criteria and secured a sponsorship through Alberta Health Services, they can move on to the PRA. Currently, the PRA consists of two parts; the first being a three-month Preliminary Clinical Assessment where the candidate works under direct observation in the medical practice of a CPSA-approved assessor, and the second being a three-month Supervised Practice Assessment where the candidate is working independently in their identified community and providing medical services to Albertans.

The new pilot project will waive the first three-month requirement for IMGs that have comparable training to that obtained in Canadian universities, as identified by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and the College of Family Physicians of Canada. Other requirements, such as clinical review exams, will also be waived for those eligible for the pilot program. To evaluate and ensure patients are receiving safe, high-quality care, safeguards, such as enhanced assessments and practice reviews, will take place once the physician has successfully completed the Supervised Practice Assessment.

“We need to look at every option to help build up our health care workforce, including streamlining processes to recruit internationally trained physicians and other professionals,” says Jason Copping, Minister of Health. “Alberta is the most welcoming province in Canada for International Medical Graduates, and this initiative will help build on that leadership by reducing the time it takes for them to meet the requirements for licensure and begin practising in communities that urgently need them.”

CPSA recognizes this change in and of itself can’t fix the shortage of physicians in Alberta, but we feel it’s an important step in the right direction. The pilot project is expected to begin by the end of the year and more information will be available on our website.

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