Quick links to information for new members
The Practice Guide outlines the profession’s values and principles of medical practice. It provides assistance to the profession in determining its specific duties and the reasons for those duties. It also organizes our existing policies within a principled framework.
College Policies provide more specific guidance on issues, grounded in the values, principles and duties of medical professionalism. They also reflect relevant legal requirements found in legislation, regulation and by-laws.
The Infection Prevention and Control for Clinical Office Practice is a best practices document developed by The Provincial Infection Diseases Advisory Committee in collaboration with the CPSO.
eDialogue is our quarterly publication, including articles and practice profiles related to health regulation, policies, health trends and practice improvement.
"In Dialogue" is our monthly podcast series where we speak to health system experts on issues related to medical regulation, the delivery of quality care, physician wellness, and initiatives to address bias and discrimination in health care.
The Find a Doctor database includes your name and details about your qualifications, practice location, registration history, hospital(s) privileges, and other information the CPSO is mandated to collect and make available to the public.
College members are permitted to establish a professional incorporation and practice medicine through their corporation. Application forms and further information are available under Incorporation Issuance and Renewal.
All physicians in Ontario are required to participate in Continuing Professional Development (CPD), which includes a self-assessment component and meets the requirements set by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) or the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC). Each year, the CPSO requires physicians to provide proof of their participation in a CPD program offered by the RCPSC; CFPC; or an alternative approved program.
Our physician and facility assessment programs reviewed more than 10,000 physicians during the past 30 years, leading to improvements to individual behaviours and practices. If you intend to perform procedures at an out-of-hospital premises, you must notify the College.
Introduction for Medical Residents
CPSO has a lot to offer its members. We’ve created a video overview of the five most significant areas of the College that are relevant to your transition to practice.
Hello Residents! My name is Dr. Sarah Reid, and today I am going to tell you about the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario – or the CPSO - and the role we play in your medical career.
Before we get started, I want to congratulate you as you embark on your transition to practice. You’ve worked hard, made sacrifices and I know that you will continue to succeed as you move from residency into practice.
Today, you are going to learn about FIVE major areas of work done by the CPSO that are particularly relevant to your transition to practice: Our role and why we exist; the approach we take to regulating the practice of medicine; CPSO’s licencing and credentialing process; the role our polices play in your medical career; and finally, a quick look at our complaint and discipline processes.
Role of CPSO
So, what does the CPSO do?
The CPSO’s core mandate is to serve in the public interest by regulating the physicians of Ontario so YOU can deliver great care to the patients you serve – care that is recognized as among the best in the world.
The CPSO exists because of two pieces of legislation, the Regulated Health Professions Act and the Medicine Act. The legislation sets out HOW medicine must be regulated and establishes our public interest mandate.
The legislation says that medicine is a self-regulated profession, and that the CPSO must act first and foremost in the interest of the public.
It effectively codifies a social contract between physicians and the public, through the government through the legislation.
The CPSO Council is our governing body. It’s made up of an almost 50/50 split of physician and public members. There are 16 physicians from across the province who have been elected by their physician peers in each district, across the province, six appointed from Ontario’s medical schools, and 15 public members appointed by the provincial government.
In addition to setting the College’s strategic direction, developing policies, and measuring performance, Council members also sit on different committees.
Each of CPSO’s ten committees has its own specific regulatory focus, like the Registration Committee that assesses your credentials and grants license to practice medicines, and the Complaints and Discipline committees that respond to and investigate concerns raised by patients that pose a risk to the public.
While regulating the practice of medicine can be done in a number of ways, CPSO has chosen a “Right-Touch” approach to how we regulate.
What does this mean?
Right-touch regulation is based on a proper evaluation of risk, is proportionate and outcome-focused, and importantly, creates a framework in which medical professionalism can flourish and you can excel.
As your regulator, our role is to help steer and guide you toward the right actions, ensuring that quality care is provided
Licencing, Credentialing & the Public Register
An important part of transitioning from residency to practice is becoming a full member of the CPSO.
Being a member of the CPSO means you’re officially licenced by the College to practice medicine. You renew your membership every year during our annual renewal process.
In 2019, we had more than 43,000 members… and we registered more than 5,000 new physicians.
One of the main services CPSO provides to the public is access to our Public Register also known as Doctor Search, which contains information about all licensed physicians in Ontario.
While we protect all personal information, our Public Register provides information about a physician’s speciality, hospital privileges, membership standing with the College, as well as any practice concerns or disciplinary findings.
As you may already know, one of the main support services we provide residents and CPSO members is our Physician Advisory Service.
You can contact our advisors for advice or guidance throughout your career on topics like, challenging situations with patients, general practice issues, or clarification of CPSO polices and government legislation. More information is available on our website.
There are five main types of registration certificates or licences that you can apply for: Postgraduate; Out-of-province; Independent; Academic; and a Supervised short-duration certificate.
Regardless of which type of licence you apply for, or, if you need to renew your CPSO membership, your first step is to create an account for CPSO’s Member Portal, where you’ll find all the information, applications, and services you need. Visit my.cpso.on.ca.
Our registration self-screening questionnaire is the first form you need to fill out – completing it will give you access to the application forms that you are eligible for, so you can quickly and easily begin the registration process.
Once your application is submitted, our Applications and Credentials Department works behind the scenes to verify your application. Once it’s verified, your application goes to the Registration Committee for a final check.
Why? CPSO has statutory obligations that must be satisfied before we can grant a license. We also have a legal obligation to vet all applicants to ensure credentials have in fact been met.
Importantly, vetting applications and asking questions about credentials is what the law says we need to do.
Information about registration requirements and the registration process can be found on our website, www.cpso.on.ca.
One of the CPSO’s key duties as a medical regulator is to provide guidance to Ontario physicians on professionalism and issues relevant to the practice of medicine.
All CPSO policies reflect expectations for ethical and professional conduct.
We expect you to know them and stay informed when they changed, so please make sure you are reading CPSO’s publication, Dialogue or the online version eDialogue, regularly, or, are checking the policy section of our website.
Polices provide you with guidance by setting out clear expectations on a variety of different topics that are all relevant to the current practice of medicine; polices like, virtual care, guidelines for accepting new patients, and the continuity of care that should exist when patients are moving between different health care providers.
They also establish boundaries for you and your colleagues within which ethical and professional behaviour can flourish, which in turn, helps to create consistent patient experiences with the medical profession across Ontario.
What policies don’t do is give instructions for every situation, replace professional judgment, or provide solutions to complex health system problems.
Our policy review process includes opportunities for YOU to tell us what you think – what’s working, what’s not working, where there are gaps, where you need more advice or guidance, and how we can better support patients.
Physician feedback and involvement is critically important to in our policy review process. Check out the Consultation page www.cpso.on.ca/Consultations to find out what policies we’re currently reviewing and how you can get involved.
Complaints, Investigations and Discipline
Before we get into the complaints and discipline, let’s start with some perspective.
Each year there are about 110 million patient-physician encounters in Ontario.
Last year, 3,019 physicians received a complaint.
Of those complaints, 39% had no further action; 15% were resolved through advice or remedial agreements; 8% were resolved through a caution or undertaking; and 37% were addressed using an early resolution process.
Only 1% of all the complaints the CPSO received in 2019 were referred to the Discipline Committee for further investigation.
We recognize that finding out a patient has made a complaint against you is stressful – and we’ve been working hard to speed up the complaint process so that lower risk complaints can be resolved more efficiently through early resolution, while more serious matters go through the committee process.
With a more efficient complaint system the number of ongoing complaint cases has dropped by almost two-thirds or 62%.
Serving in the public interest is at the heart of what we do.
From our perspective, this means, ensuring competence, integrity, altruism, and quality care must be fundamental to the practice of medicine.
It’s also why we chose our vision of “Trusted Doctors Providing Great Care”
That’s why all our regulatory activities, from every policy we develop, every license we grant, and every complaint we investigate, is done through the lens of the public interest.
I hope you have learned more about the CPSO and the role we will play in your medical careers. Remember, you can call or email our Physician Advisory Service any time.
Congratulations again on transitioning to practice!
Physician Advisory Services
Telephone: Toll Free: 1-800-268-7096, extension 606
E-mail: [email protected]
CPSO Member Portal: my.cpso.on.ca
Sign up for eConsult
- eConsult is a secure, web-based tool that provides physicians and nurse practitioners timely access to specialist advice.
- New family doctors may sign up immediately.
- For more information on how to sign up, email [email protected] or call 613-798-5555, ext. 81550.
- You may also visit www.eConsultOntario.ca