Work is well underway on two separate amalgamations that will create a new BC College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM) and transition the province’s podiatric surgeons into the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC (CPSBC).
The amalgamations will reduce BC’s regulatory colleges to 19, in line with the Ministry of Health’s focus on modernizing the health regulation system and reducing the number of colleges overall.
Set for September 1, 2020, the amalgamation of the BC College of Nursing Professionals (BCCNP) and the College of Midwives of BC (CMBC) will enable both to be better positioned to respond to changes in health profession regulation and fulfill their mandate to protect the public.
Initiated by CMBC in early 2019, the amalgamation process is progressing smoothly, and the proposed bylaws for the new BCCNM were posted for consultation on May 27.
Work is currently underway on a new brand and website for the amalgamated college.
CMBC will gain access to the specialized skills and resources needed to fulfill the public protection mandate for midwifery services in 2020 and beyond. In turn, BCCNP will benefit from the expertise of another regulated health profession that has a distinct and unique scope of practice, yet shares a common mandate to provide clients and patients with safe, ethical care.
“This is an exciting development for both our colleges, and we’re eager to begin collaboration,” says CMBC Registrar and Executive Director Louise Aerts. “We see significant benefits stemming from this work, both for our registrants and our staff, as well as for the public we serve.”
Formed in 2018, BCCNP now regulates 60,000 nurses across four designations. BCCNP continues to harmonize processes and regulatory frameworks where appropriate to help offset the increasing cost of regulation in Canada, explains Registrar & CEO Cynthia Johansen.
When amalgamated with BCCNP, BC’s 400 midwives will join as a separate profession but gain access to specialized regulatory skills to ensure they can respond to the BC government’s call for increased transparency, stakeholder engagement, and improvements to inquiry, investigations, hearings, and other governance-related matters.
The scope of practice for each of the five designations regulated by the new college will remain distinct, Johansen notes. Open complaint investigations will continue without interruption, and the registration and renewal processes will not change. Midwife standards of practice will remain the same, as will quality assurance requirements.
“CMBC staff and their board and committee members all bring a wealth of experience and unique perspectives that will enhance our existing work, while allowing midwives to benefit from the specialized experience of BCCNP staff,” Johansen says. “We’re well positioned for the big changes coming to health profession regulation in the coming months and years.”
Pending approval from government, it is anticipated that the new BCCNM board will consist of 10 members – five registrants (one from each designation) and five public members.
The amalgamation of the College of Podiatric Surgeons of BC (CPodSBC) with the CPSBC was approved by the two college boards and the Minister of Health based on a number of parallels in the professions. For example, podiatric surgeons complete a four-year university program and receive a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine, followed by a hospital-based residency. They also diagnose, prescribe, and perform surgical procedures.
This amalgamation is unique in its size and scope. The number of registrants regulated by the CPodSBC is, and has always been, quite small (currently 77). Over the years there have been ongoing discussions about how the CPSBC could assume responsibility of the regulation of podiatric surgeons. This amalgamated model of regulation exists in Saskatchewan and many of the US states.
The amalgamation is being led by a transition steering committee with representatives from both colleges. The committee has been working to conduct necessary financial, legal, and regulatory audits; identify steps for data integration; and review current practice standards and guidelines to ensure professional alignment.
Dr. Heidi Oetter, registrar and CEO of the CPSBC, sees the amalgamation as a way to help shape the future of health care regulation in BC.
“We believe this change will have a positive impact on patient safety,” she notes. “Patients receiving podiatric services will benefit from the strong regulatory framework that exists with the CPSBC.”
In addition to the usual high standards for registration and review of concerns about a registrant’s conduct or competence, the CPSBC has a comprehensive program to assess office-based procedures, including audits of medical device reprocessing equipment.
And, unique to most regulators in BC, the CPSBC accredits ambulatory facilities where advanced surgical procedures are performed to ensure patients receive safe care. It is anticipated that some of the work currently done by podiatric surgeons will fall within the purview of these existing programs.
To prepare for this change, the CPSBC has already incorporated podiatric surgeons as members on its core regulatory committees. Bylaws for the amalgamation of the two colleges were posted for consultation in late May, with an anticipated completion date for the amalgamation on August 31, 2020.
Louise Crowe, registrar of the CPodSBC, anticipates things will move quickly over the next two months. “We have a lot of work to do to ensure podiatric surgeons are aware of the amalgamation and that they feel part of this important transition,” she says. “Our goal is to provide timely and transparent communication to podiatrists to support them and help them understand their regulatory obligations as registrants of the CPSBC.”