Re: Nonrecognized qualifications; College responds

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 60, No. 7, September 2018, Page 346 Letters

While the College does not collect information from physicians about whether they perform a particular procedure or have a specific expertise or special interest beyond their formal training and academic credentials, it does have an expectation as outlined in the bylaws under the Health Professions Act, and as clearly stated in a practice standard (Advertising and Communication with the Public), that registrants represent themselves and their credentials accurately and truthfully, and that they avoid misleading the public through false or exaggerated claims.

Part 7, Section 7-4(3) of the bylaws states: “A registrant must not identify himself or herself as a specialist unless he or she has certification from the RCPSC or equivalent accrediting body approved by the board.”

Part 7, Section 7-4(4) of the bylaws states: “No one other than a registrant who is a certificant or fellow of the RCPSC or who has completed postgraduate training in his or her specialty satisfactory to the registration committee, may indicate on his or her letterhead or office door or otherwise represent himself or herself as holding such specialist qualifications.”

Only those registrants who have obtained certification with the RCPSC in a surgical field can refer to themselves as “surgeon.”

The College encourages additional training and recognized certification through reputable societies and organizations such as the Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine (CSAM) and the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). Physicians who provide addiction medicine services come from a variety of professional backgrounds (e.g., family medicine, psychiatry, internal medicine) and, at this time, an established route to certification does not exist through either of the two national certifying colleges. The College recognizes that there are many diploma and certification-granting organizations that sound more impressive than can be verified through independent accreditation of the training program.

Physicians who have obtained membership or certification from a nonrecognized society, or participated in specialized training in a particular treatment or procedure, should be extra vigilant in ensuring that they are not misrepresenting themselves. For example, a family physician who has obtained additional training in treating sport injuries must clearly indicate on any advertising or promotional material that they are a “family physician with a special interest in sports medicine.”

The legislation is clear. Physicians can advertise their professional services provided the content isn’t inflated and that it genuinely assists patients in making informed choices about their health and well-being.
—Heidi M. Oetter, MD
Registrar and CEO, College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia

This letter was submitted in response to “Re: Nonrecognized qualifications.”

Heidi M. Oetter, MD. Re: Nonrecognized qualifications; College responds. BCMJ, Vol. 60, No. 7, September, 2018, Page(s) 346 - Letters.

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