How PHMP works
1. A health condition is identified
- We become aware of your health condition. This can happen when you first register, renew, or any other time you self-report. We may also get notified by one of your colleagues.
- We connect with you only if we require additional information about your health condition or work environment.
- We evaluate the impact of your condition on your ability to practise medicine.
- Our goal is to ensure you have the support you need to balance your health and clinical responsibilities.
2. We gather information
- We ask for your consent to request additional information from your health providers.
- We confirm you’re effectively managing your health condition and are able to provide safe patient care.
3. We provide you with support & guidance
- Although our program does not provide any form of direct treatment, we do offer support and guidance to help you manage your health condition and minimize the impact on your practice.
- We can connect you to many available resources, including the Alberta Medical Association’s Physician and Family Support Program (PFSP) and Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA).
Types of monitoring
- Health monitoring: we get information periodically from your health provider
- Practice monitoring: a colleague, who is aware you are being monitored by PHMP, provides us with progress reports on your clinical practice
- Biological monitoring: we use this type of monitoring for those recovering from a substance use disorder (SUD). We arrange for a third party to randomly collect and analyze urine or other samples to ensure you remain fit to practice.
When you need to report a health condition
Do you have a physical, cognitive, mental or emotional condition that is negatively impacting your work? Is it reasonably likely to impact your work in the future? If so, you have a duty to report your condition to CPSA.
We encourage all physicians, residents and medical students with a health condition (including physical and mental health conditions, and substance use disorders) to seek medical attention early for their own health and to minimize the impact on their practice.
When your health issue is more complex
If you have a complex health condition, we may seek a report from your treating physician to ensure there are no concerns regarding your ability to practice safely. Every situation is unique, so we are careful to evaluate each physician on an individual basis.
For those managing a substance use disorder (SUD), you may need a formal assessment and possibly further treatment. This decision is based on recommendations we get from experts in this area.
It’s important to know more than 80% of physicians in PHMP continue to practise with minimal impact to their work. In the rare occasion that a physician’s own health or patient care is at risk, we ask them to limit their practice or to withdraw completely.
"Physicians deserve the same high level of care and compassion that they provide to their patients."
- PHMP Program
PHMP FAQsAll FAQs
Can I continue to practise while involved in PHMP?
Yes, if your health providers confirm that you are effectively managing your health condition and able to provide safe patient care.
Can I return to practice?
Most physicians can return to work with appropriate supports in place. PHMP may enter into an agreement with the physician to ensure they remain healthy and able to carry out their clinical duties.
How will participation in PHMP impact my ability to apply for residency training programs, e.g. fellowships or jobs?
Participating in our program is not likely to limit your ability to apply for a position. However, we may need to consider how your health might impact your prospective work, as well as the rules around disability and employment in Alberta.
If PHMP contacts me, do I have to reply? How soon do I have to reply?
As a physician, resident or medical student, yes, you should respond as soon as possible and in a timely manner.
What happens when I contact PHMP about my own health condition?
A member of the PHMP clinical team (or designate) will ask you for more information to determine next steps. Our goal is to ensure you have the support you need to balance your health needs with your clinical responsibilities.
We may ask for your consent to seek additional information from your health providers. This is to ensure you are managing your health condition, and are able to provide safe patient care. Sometimes, regular monitoring is necessary to ensure you remain healthy and fit to practice.
For more information, see our Self-Reporting standard of practice.
What happens when another physician reports me to CPSA?
A member of the PHMP clinical team will contact you to discuss the next steps. See more on what to expect.
What is a practice monitor?
A practice monitor is responsible for providing direct and/or indirect oversight to a physician whose practice is being monitored by CPSA for one or more reasons to maintain patient safety. Practice monitors observe all aspects of the monitored physician’s behaviour and provide beneficial, constructive support. CPSA enlists practice monitors as a mechanism for feedback to ensure the monitored physician is practising safely and effectively balancing their health with their clinical responsibilities.
Practice monitors’ duties consist of, but are not limited to, providing feedback, meeting with the monitored physician, watching for signs of concern (e.g., signs of impairment, poor decision making, noncompliance to practice conditions, etc.), advising CPSA of urgent concerns and providing verbal or written reports to CPSA’s Physician Health Monitoring program (PHMP) upon request.
What is the difference between PHMP and PFSP?
Although both programs are confidential, offering support to physicians, residents and medical students with health conditions, there are some differences.
CPSA’s Physician Health Monitoring Program (PHMP):
- Is available for health conditions affecting medical practice
- Will connect with physicians directly and may ask for more information from treating practitioners
- Will refer physicians for an assessment, if needed (fitness to practice)
- Will administer monitoring when recommended by assessors
The Alberta Medical Association’s Physician and Family Support Program (PFSP):
- Voluntary program offering support for health and wellness concerns
- Offers a 24/7 assistance line for physicians and eligible family members
- Provides confidential support and access to qualified therapists
- Case Coordination (CC) services are available for more complex health concerns
- May provide financial assistance to CC clients for assessments or treatment
However, with your consent, both PHMP and PFSP can work together to provide you the best support possible.
What supports are available for physicians managing a health condition?
Dealing with a regulatory body such as CPSA can be stressful, so we encourage physicians to contact all available resources, including:
Who should I contact if I have concerns about another physician?
If you have concerns about a colleague who may have a health condition affecting safe patient care, please contact PHMP. You can remain anonymous and your conversation will always be confidential.
In some circumstances, it is your duty to report another physician, for example:
- You must report another physician to CPSA when you reasonably believe their conduct puts patients at risk, or is considered unprofessional conduct under the Health Professions Act.
- You also have a duty to report to CPSA if you’re treating a physician who has a health condition that may impact the safety of their patients.
Will I lose my practice permit if my health condition is reported?
Taking a physician’s permit away is rare and a last resort. We may ask you to temporarily withdraw from practice until your health is stable, or until we get assurance from your health providers that you can practise safely.
On rare occasions, we may have to refer a matter to the Complaints Director under Section 118 of the Health Professions Act. This only happens if a physician will not voluntarily withdraw from practice and there is reason to believe patient safety is at risk.
Will participation in PHMP delay the completion of my Residency training program?
Some health conditions require a period of medical leave or training modifications which may cause some delay. We understand the importance of your training and try to minimize the impacts. Our priority is to make sure there is no risk to your patients and you get the care you need.
Contact the PHMP team
Toll-free: 1-800-320-8624 (in Canada)
Confidential fax: 780-441-1616
Confidential email: PhysicianHealth@cpsa.ab.ca
When you contact us, we keep all your health-related information confidential and manage your health information independent from other CPSA departments.