In May 2015, the Council of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) indicated that Alberta Health Services (AHS) would be the only organization that can sponsor international physicians for practice readiness assessments.
This decision replaced the requirement for AHS to provide a letter of support to the CPSA for community clinics requesting the sponsorship of a physician. The assessments are required for any physicians seeking to register on the Provincial Register, and subsequently be eligible to work as a physician in Alberta.
The revised sponsorship process is intended to help direct physicians into communities across the province where there is the highest need for physicians. Current data indicates that overall, urban Calgary and Edmonton are well supplied by family physicians and are not in need of additional physician resources.
The process being announced is a refinement that will formalize the following sponsorship requirements:
Except in unique circumstances, AHS will not sponsor urban Calgary or Edmonton family medicine positions requiring the practice readiness assessments;
Rural family medicine positions will be considered on a case by case basis, depending on identified need of a particular community;
Specialist positions will be considered on a case by case basis;
If AHS sponsors a position to be recruited by a third party (such as a walk in clinic), the third party will agree to reimburse AHS the costs of sponsorship and provide reporting to confirm position requirements. To view some of the data indicators that AHS has used to come to this conclusion please click on the images below. AHS acknowledges the medical workforce and the needs of Albertans are complex and that these indicators aren’t perfect; they are however the best available at the present time. AHS will regularly update and review these indicators.
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If you have questions about CPSA requirements, please visit the CPSA website.
Changes to how international physicians are sponsored by Alberta Health Services will help address those communities in greatest need of family physicians.
The changes, which have been made after consultation with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, the Alberta Medical Association, Primary Care Networks, universities and non AHS clinics, will prioritize sponsorships for physician vacancies in high need areas, which generally are located outside the province’s urban centres.
AHS will continue to work with Primary Care Networks and walk in clinics to ensure they continue to be able to recruit international physicians in communities of identified need.
AHS will continue to work directly with PCNs and walk in clinics regarding this process change.
Compared to peer provinces, Alberta currently has the second highest number of physicians per 100,000 population (230 physicians). The current challenge is to ensure that physicians are practicing in areas of greatest need. There are several initiatives designed to recruit and retain physicians to harder to recruit communities, such as AH Rural and Remote Physician Support Program and Physician Skills Enrichment Programs. The updates to the sponsorship process are one additional strategy to improve physician access to rural and remote communities.
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