Internationally acclaimed psychologist let go from IWK hospital after license rejection

Click to play video: 'Searching for answers: One psychologist’s quest to find out why her credentials aren’t accepted in Nova Scotia'
Searching for answers: One psychologist’s quest to find out why her credentials aren’t accepted in Nova Scotia
WATCH ABOVE: After she accepted a position at IWK Children’s Hospital as youth psychology director, Dr. Pamela Yates had her credentials rejected when she applied for licensing. The rejection eventually lead to her dismissal at the IWK. Alexa MacLean explains – Mar 9, 2017

After spending nearly 30 years growing her skills in the field of forensic psychology, Dr. Pamela Yates wanted to bring her knowledge back home to Nova Scotia.

READ MORE: More N.S. youth turning to ERs, hospitals for mental health issues

“I spent all this time away, doing my work, building my credentials, educating myself, and I wanted to bring that back here. This is where I want to be,” she said.

In 2014, she accepted a position at the IWK Children’s Hospital as clinical director of the Youth Forensics Program.

“Forensic psychology involves working with individuals who have come in contact with the law, adults and youth, who may or may not have issues of mental health,” Dr. Yates said.

Upon acceptance, she contacted the Nova Scotia Board of Examiners in Psychology [NSBEP] to inquire about her licensing application.
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“We [NSBEP] had a conversation about my background, my degree and my status and I received what was a positive response,” she said.

She moved to Nova Scotia to begin her new career but when she applied for licensing, Dr. Yates’ application was rejected.

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According to the board, all application requirements are transparent and available online.

Depending on circumstances, some applicants can internally transfer their license from one province to another.

But if they don’t qualify for that, there are other options.

“When a transfer is not possible under the provisions of the Agreement on Internal Trade, the applicant would need to be assessed according to our registration requirements,” said Matthew Wagner, NSBEP assistant registrar.

Saskatchewan was the last province where Dr. Yates was registered as a psychologist.

She was working there before moving to the federal government.

Her license in Saskatchewan had moved into “non-practicing” status because she spent so many years away from the province working with the federal government.

In order for her status to be restored to “practicing,” she was told she’d need to complete roughly one year of supervised work such as a residency, a condition she says her supervisors at the IWK were willing to take on.

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“They were quite supportive initially of doing this 1,500 hours under supervision and [having me continue] to do my job,” she said.

However, she says, currently the board will not allow her to do her residency in Nova Scotia.

She says one of the reasons given to her for the denial is based on her doctorate degree from Carleton University in Ontario.

According to the NSBEP’s requirements, the institution doesn’t meet the credentials they’re looking for, a reasoning that baffles Dr. Yates.

“There’s courses such as assessment and treatment the board says doesn’t appear on my transcript, but I’ve done assessment and treatment for 25 years. I’ve written books on it and have trained people in it,” Dr. Yates said.

Wagner says it’s up to applicants to verify the requirements for license ahead of beginning their employment.

“There is no barrier to completing supervision here, if the academic credentials are acceptable and the requirements of provincial legislation are met,” he said.

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Dr. Yates was let go from her position at the IWK as a result of the rejection of her licensing application.

She’s taking her case to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia in June for a judicial review.

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