To kick off my first message of the year, I would like to extend a warm welcome to 2024! I hope everyone had a chance to relax and recharge. Generally, with my Registrar messages, I like to take the opportunity to provide insights into new developments for the profession, educational opportunities, respond to concerns or trends we see as the regulator or simply provide regular reminders to you. For this message, I would like to focus on regulatory responsibilities and a quick education update.

I would like to address two important audit updates. I’m sure when most hear the word ‘audit’, the initial reactions are anxiety or dread. While this might be true for an income tax audit, when it comes to some of the audits that the College performs every year our members shouldn’t have the same reactions.

First, let’s address why the College conducts audits. Simply put, it is part of the regulatory requirement set out for colleges. As a regulated member of a healthcare profession under the HPA, you have certain responsibilities that you must meet. To name a few these include participation in the Continuing Competence (CC) program, maintain active professional liability insurance and adhering to the Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics. As the College, it is our job to conduct record audits to ensure members are meeting their responsibilities. If you are meeting all your requirements, there should be no cause for concern when selected to participate in an audit.

In November, the College began the annual CC record audit and this year over 500 members were selected to participate. This is our third time using the current structure and our processes are becoming more efficient each year, especially now that members can upload certificates of completion directly into the member portal. We were able to verify and approve roughly 90% of the members’ records internally, with the remaining members being sent for review by the Competence Committee in the coming months. The committee will perform a thorough review to determine if the members have met their requirements and if not, determine remediation whenever required. The only time that an audit would ever get escalated to the Conduct department is for situations where a member refuses to respond to requests for information, as it is a requirement of registration to ‘collaborate with the College to fulfill all legislative responsibilities’ (Code of Ethics 4.7). I would like to extend a sincere thank you to all who participated and submitted their documents on time. Your cooperation helps ensure a smooth and straightforward process.

The other ‘audit’ that we are performing is to review the accuracy of professional liability insurance (PLI) records. It is a condition of your practice to provide the College with a valid and active PLI policy. While this is an ongoing process, thus far this audit has been a smooth process, and we were able to identify a number of records where entry errors were made. We communicated with these members and ensured that the information was accurate and that a valid PLI policy was in place. Almost everyone had purchased a valid policy but just made a few small errors when entering the policy number and/or expiry date into the portal. However, there were a substantial number of members who we identified as having practiced for a period of time without valid PLI in place.

This audit has revealed that there are some members who believe that they do not require PLI or that they are willing to “risk it” and go without. This, quite simply, is not permitted. In our profession, paramedics may find themselves exposed to various legal and professional challenges. Personal professional liability insurance provides a safety net, covering legal fees and potential damages in case of allegations of negligence or malpractice. In a litigious society, where individuals are increasingly inclined to seek legal recourse, having this insurance becomes a prudent measure for paramedics safeguarding their professional reputation and financial well-being. It also ensures that the public is protected, in that they have a means for proper compensation in the unlikely event that they are negatively impacted by the care provided to them by our members. This audit has demonstrated to our team that we need to be continually diligent in ensuring the accuracy of our members records. We are continuing to review records and will be in touch with members over the coming months.

Lastly, I want to provide a bit of an update on the status of the national competency profiles. The Paramedic Association of Canada (PAC) has released its Occupational Competency Standard for Paramedics for public consultation, and you can provide your feedback by clicking this link – Occupational Competency Standard for Paramedics (New Standard) | CSA Public Review System. This, along with the Canadian Organization of Paramedic Regulators (COPR) Pan-Canadian Essential Regulatory Requirements will serve to shape the future scope of practice and educational requirements for our profession. More information on the COPR documents can be found by clicking this link – Regulation of Paramedics in Canada and Canadian Provinces — COPR.

We expect that these new national documents will have an impact on the structure of paramedic education in Canada and in Alberta. As the landscape for our profession continues to change, we recognize that we too will have to adapt. We look forward to these changes ahead and will continue to work collaboratively will all our colleagues and members to ensure that the best care is delivered to Albertans at the highest standards.

Take care and stay safe,

Tim A. Ford, ACP