Our Work

COVID-19: College Response


The arrival of COVID-19 on our shores forced many changes in the delivery of medical care. The College as the regulator of medical practice kept pace with these changes.

Having completed a pandemic planning exercise years ago, the College shifted to a work-from-home, virtual office model upon declaration of the emergency by the Premier. This planning resulted in a smooth transition to the remote delivery of the College’s operations.   

COVID-19 compelled immediate changes to our approach to licensure, to support the pandemic deployment response. Recently retired physicians answered the province’s call, raising their hands to help. They were issued emergency licences, restricted to the pandemic response, without a fee.  Working with the health authorities, we arrived at a structured approach to scope of practice, particularly with respect to Emergency Medicine, to respond to the pandemic.

Recently retired physicians answered the province’s call, raising their hands to help. They were issued emergency licences, restricted to the pandemic response, without a fee.

The College responded with flexibility to the postponement of examinations by the Medical Council of Canada (MCC), Royal College, and Canadian College of Family Physicians (CCFP) authored by COVID-19. No physicians unable to challenge these examinations were denied licensure because of the postponement. The College is grateful for the collaborative efforts of the health authorities and Dalhousie’s Postgraduate Medical Education offices, which helped enable this seamless transition.

The College supported the implementation of necessary changes in medical care in the pandemic context. Working with Health Canada, the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and the College of Pharmacists, the College helped implement changes to the prescribing of controlled substances, allowing for pharmacists to accept verbal or faxed prescriptions and extend existing prescriptions. The College supported the sudden need for virtual care, providing direction and comfort to physicians launching into a new method of care and enabling the delivery of virtual care into Nova Scotia from other Canadian jurisdictions.


Recently retired physicians answered the province’s call, raising their hands to help. They were issued emergency licences, restricted to the pandemic response, without a fee.


Throughout, the College continued its regular work, including the investigation of complaints against physicians. The resilience of physicians under the extraordinary stresses of the pandemic has been remarkable. With that said, the pandemic has demonstrated the importance of physician wellness, a focus that we must always nurture and consider.

Although it is far too early to speak about silver linings, it is fair to expect that many of the changes authored by COVID-19 will persist long after the pandemic.  Many may well improve the delivery and the regulation of medicine in our province.