Health Minister Don McMorris has announced a new Saskatchewan-based assessment process designed to better recruit more foreign-trained physicians to the province.
Effective January 1, 2011, the assessment will ensure physicians are screened with sufficient rigor to ensure patients receive safe, high quality care, while meeting the needs of communities and health regions in more efficiently recruiting International Medical Graduates (IMGs).
"Even while we work to expand the number of College of Medicine seats and to train our own doctors here at home, Saskatchewan continues to rely on and value our international medical graduates," McMorris said. "As part of our ongoing efforts, we are pleased to introduce this provincially-based assessment process. Physicians and Saskatchewan citizens alike have asked for it, and we are pleased to move forward in improving access for all of our communities."
One key change involves removing the barriers that previously existed based on IMGs' country of training. Once the new assessment has been evaluated, IMGs from all countries will be assessed as long as they meet the pre-screening criteria. Opening up the assessment to IMGs from around the world will bolster recruitment to the province by allowing an assessment of a much wider range of physicians.
"There are many benefits to this new assessment process," College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan Registrar Dr. Dennis Kendel said. "For instance, assessing IMGs prior to their work practice allows for safer patient care as well as less disruption for communities and IMGs alike, as physicians will no longer need to leave their practice to be assessed."
Other benefits of the new assessment process include: IMGs will receive orientation to the Canadian practice environment prior to assessment, which assists IMGs' adjustment to the province and increases their chances of success; the elimination of the current group practice requirement means once IMGs successfully pass their assessment, they can go directly to the community to which they were recruited to practise independently; a larger volume of IMG candidates can be assessed throughout the year; the new assessment will closely align Saskatchewan with national licensure standards currently under development, allowing for full labour mobility between provinces.