McNeil calls for faster licensing of doctors looking to work in N.S. | CBC News

Nova Scotia’s premier is calling on medical colleges across Canada to modernize the way they license physicians, and says work underway in the Atlantic region is a start.

Stephen McNeil made the comments after CBC News reported a qualified American physician now living in Lunenburg, N.S., has spent nearly a year and a half on paperwork.

Dr. Thomas Dietz wants to work in the community’s emergency department, which was closed nearly 40 per cent of the time in the last reported fiscal year.

But one of Dietz’s major hurdles was waiting six months for an organization to verify an internship he completed in the early 1980s.

The doctor questioned why they were communicating by mail instead of simply picking up the phone.

McNeil, who spoke to the physician directly, said this case highlights the struggles with the system.

“I believe a lot of processes need to be modernized to ensure that they can move along a lot quicker,” McNeil said of the paperwork required to get a license.

“There are many issues related to licensing in the province that are outside of government’s control.”

The head of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia told CBC that Dietz’s delays fell under unique circumstances and his issues are not reflective of how the system works.

Dr. Gus Grant said the college is frequently reviewing its licensing process and he sees no need for significant change at the moment because it’s ensuring the safety of Nova Scotians.

McNeil said the province has been working with the medical colleges in Atlantic Canada to create a single system that would allow mobility within the region.

“Hopefully, we’ll achieve that,” he said.

Calls for a single registry

McNeil said efforts should go further and would like to see a single registry across the country.

“If you are a physician in Nova Scotia, surely you should be able to be a physician in Ontario or British Columbia,” he said.

“If you live in New Brunswick and have a licence in Nova Scotia, you have no privileges in New Brunswick. That makes absolutely no sense.”

Health Minister Randy Delorey declined to answer direct questions about the case because of privacy reasons.

But he agreed there is room for improvement to make it easier for qualified doctors to work in Nova Scotia.

“We’ve been listening to feedback from those physicians who have come through to change our approach and processes to make it easier for others,” he said.

Delorey points to a special immigration stream that was created to bring physicians to Nova Scotia.

Dietz said that fast-track system wasn’t an option for him because he needed his licence before he could use it.

This content was originally published here.

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