Addressing Urgency

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Dr. Rob Gratton

As a profession, we continue to grapple with the issues of burnout/moral injury, physician shortages and administrative burden. The unsettled confidence in the system from patients and the public at large is being further eroded by limited access to primary care, wait times for procedures and emergency room capacity. Make no mistake: we are still in the “polycrisis” I discussed in my last column, and the stresses on the system have not gone away.

CPSO continues to work diligently to address physician supply. The registration, quality and policy teams have developed new and revised registration pathways. CPSO Council reviewed and approved these amendments at the March and June Council meetings.

One of our biggest wins over the last few months has involved removing barriers for internationally educated physicians to come practise in Ontario. At June Council, the draft policy for the Practice Ready Assessment program was approved for consultation. In addition, revisions to the academic pathway to registration and recognition of the Royal College (RCPSC) subspecialty affiliate status will allow more physicians to practise in Ontario. I am impressed with how innovative CPSO has been in finding ways within the current legislation to address physician shortage.

“We’ve also made timely and strategic changes to important practice standards”

CPSO has been actively involved in conversations around National Licensure. We are supportive, and are exploring options and engaging with other jurisdictions to ease physician mobility across the Ontario border. As the Ontario regulator, we have been successful in enabling mobility by several recent policy amendments and expedited registration.

We’ve also made timely and strategic changes to important practice standards, especially those involving out-of-hospital premises (OHPs). Ontarians are increasingly relying on these facilities for care, especially in the wake of Bill 60. Our changes emphasize the important role of the medical directors who lead these OHPs, ensuring that they have what they need to deliver excellent care, and that the standards are clear and actionable.

“From day one, our EDI work has recognized that both physicians and patients deserve a health care system free from discrimination”

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss the College’s ongoing work with equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI). It’s worth repeating: EDI is not something separate to the care we provide our patients; it is fundamental to centring the patient in everything we do. Yet, we know that physicians can just as easily be victims of discrimination and acts of oppression as their patients, and that this can contribute to the stress and burnout that doctors are experiencing. From day one, our EDI work has recognized that both physicians and patients deserve a health care system free from discrimination, and we’re doing everything we can to make that a reality here in Ontario. This year, we’ve decided to prioritize issues around patients with disabilities and those who are experiencing homelessness. I’m proud of this organization for focusing on better access to care for all patients.

System collaboration is fundamental to our success, and we acknowledge that we are just one player among many in this system. Ultimately, all the work discussed above funnels into a key priority of the College — relieving regulatory burden for physicians and ensuring Ontarians can access the medical care they need.