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The consequences of practising medicine without a valid permit

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November Messenger 2022 | Posted November 10, 2022
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A physician reflects on their registration oversight  

For many years, I have provided periodic locum coverage at a rural community clinic. Earlier this year, in anticipation of a locum placement at the clinic, I attempted to acquire the requisite certificate of good standing to provide to CPSA’s Registration department, so they could issue me with a temporary licence to complete my placement. Unfortunately, for reasons beyond my control, the certification was not provided in time, so CPSA’s Registration department was unable to process my request for licensure in advance of the locum’s start date. This came as a surprise to me, as I had previously received late certification and CPSA had issued my licence without issue.

Notwithstanding that I did not have a valid licence at the time, I went ahead and completed the locum placement. I did not fully recognize or understand the significance of this decision, and genuinely (and incorrectly) thought of the licence requirement as more of a formality that could be fixed retroactively when I ultimately got my certificate of good standing.

Although CPSA had approved my late licensure request on a previous occasion, I now know that in failing to obtain a valid licence prior to starting my locum, I practiced medicine contrary to CPSA’s requirements.

As a result of my failure to obtain proper licensure before starting my locum, I was not compensated by Alberta Health for the time I practised without a licence, and I was investigated by CPSA in relation to my conduct. A remedial resolution was agreed upon, whereby I will complete a professional development course and share my learnings with my colleagues in The Messenger.

Prior to completing any future locum placements, I will ensure I have complied with all licensing and other requirements as set out by CPSA. I now realize that the practical, ethical and legal implications of doing so are very important.

I am grateful to CPSA for providing me the opportunity to learn from my mistake, and to share my learnings with my colleagues in the hopes that they do not make a similar mistake in the future.


This article was submitted to CPSA by the physician as part of a complaints resolution.


A physician may take part in many different types of medical practice throughout their careers in Alberta (postgraduate training, temporary, limited or independent practice and telemedicine, to name a few). Regardless of the circumstances and the type of permit required, all physicians in Alberta must register with CPSA before providing patient care. Learn more about CPSA’s registration process.

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