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CPSA expanding use of “specialist” designation

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March Messenger 2024, Registration | Posted March 14, 2024
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CPSA recently expanded the use of our “specialist” designation to include all specialist physicians who demonstrate they meet criteria under CPSA’s General and Provisional Registers and who are practising without restrictions on scope of practice.

Historically, the specialist title had been reserved for physicians who have their Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) certification. However, we have learned that the nonspecialist designation has led to challenges in retaining and recruiting physicians, particularly specialist international medical graduates interested in practising in Alberta and regulated members who have demonstrated substantial equivalency of their international training. The approximately 90 physicians affected by this change have been assessed and determined to have received training and credentials from other jurisdictions that enable them to safely practise the full scope of their specialty in Alberta.

It’s important to note that this change does not have any bearing on the RCPSC designation of specialist and does not grant a physician RCPSC designation if they do not currently have it. In addition, it does not change a practising physician’s current scope of practice. This change only pertains to CPSA’s specialty classification, as noted on a physician’s public profile under the Physician Directory on

The designation of nonspecialist will remain for non-RCPSC physicians that currently have conditions on their practice permit that prevent them from working to the full scope of practice in their discipline.

I’m currently considered a specialist by CPSA. What does this mean for me?

Nothing! There are no changes for physicians who are already considered a specialist by CPSA.

I was considered a nonspecialist. What does this mean for me?

If you are practising the full scope of your speciality, you would have received an email from CPSA on March 5 with details of the change and where the new title of specialist will appear.

If you have restrictions on your practice permit that prevent you from working to the full scope of practice in your discipline, you would have received a letter from CPSA on March 6 outlining the details of your remaining nonspecialist designation.

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