More family doctors will soon be available to take patients as the B.C. government has announced it’s expanding a program that helps internationally educated doctors get licences in B.C.
This is a move to try and address the large issue of the lack of family doctors within the province.
“The pandemic has exposed underlying challenges and added new strains to our public health-care system, and too many British Columbians are struggling to find a family doctor,” said B.C. Premier David Eby.
“Meanwhile, family doctors trained outside of Canada aren’t able to practise family medicine because they lack a pathway to be licensed here.”
Eby continued, “We need to fix this. That’s why we’re taking action to help get more internationally trained doctors off the sidelines and into communities where they are so desperately needed.”
The Practice Ready Assessment program is tripling its seats from 32 to 96 by March 2024.
The program is “a pathway for internationally educated family doctors to be licensed to work in B.C.,” according to the government.
“By tripling the number of seats over the next 16 months, providing a new pathway for international medical graduates to work as associate physicians, and removing barriers for doctors from the United States to work in B.C., we are delivering in our commitment to patients and building strong team-based care for all British Columbians,” said B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix.
International medical graduates (IMGs) who are not eligible for full or provisional licences in B.C. may be eligible for a new associate physician class of restricted registration with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC.
“This will allow them to care for patients under the direction and supervision of an attending physician within a health authority acute-care setting,” Ministry of Health staff said in a release.
“This is part of the government’s work to recruit more health professionals and provide immediate solutions for people who need to access health services.”
Changes are being made to help expedite the process of intaking medical graduates and doctors before they arrive in the country as well.
“While the requirements for registering physicians to practice medicine is the responsibility of each province and vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction across Canada, the province is working with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and the College of Family Physicians of Canada to allow IMGs to start the certification processes for either recognized specialties or family medicine before they arrive in B.C,” said College of Family Physicians of Canada staff, in an email.
“Not all physicians need certification to practice in the province, but it is generally preferred as it indicates a high degree of medical knowledge and skill.”
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC will prepare bylaw changes to allow doctors trained in the U.S. for three years to practise family medicine in B.C. The bylaw changes will be implemented in the coming weeks, with the intent of allowing these doctors to practise family medicine in B.C. communities by January 2023.
These actions are part of B.C.’s Health Human Resources Strategy, which was announced back in Sept. 2022.