I’m licensed in British Columbia

They don’t give out my license on paper

I hope it won’t turn into vapor

For it’s up in the Cloud

And now I’m allowed

To take the next step in this caper.


Synopsis: I’m a Family Practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa. In 2010 I danced back from the brink of burnout, and honoring a 1 year non-compete clause, traveled and worked in out-of-the-way places in Alaska, Nebraska, Iowa, and New Zealand. After three years working with a Community Health Center, I went back to adventures in temporary positions until they have an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system I can get along with. Assignments in Nome, Alaska, rural Iowa, and suburban Pennsylvania stretched into fall 2015. Since then I’ve worked a few times each in Alaska, Nebraska, and Iowa; I finished my most recent assignment in Clarinda on May 18.  Right now I’m in northern British Columbia, about to get a first-hand look at the Canadian system. Any identifiable patient information has been included with permission.

I haven’t written about my progress getting licensure in Canada since October 2015, when I sent my packet to PhysiciansApply.ca. Much has happened since, and the hypothetical start date kept receding like a mirage.  About the beginning of this year, it got fixed at May 29.

With no exceptions, every Canadian I’ve talked to has been polite, friendly, and helpful; if not knowledgeable they knew exactly the person for me to talk to. I suspect that the bewildering regulations frustrate them as much as they frustrated me.

I flew into Vancouver Thursday for the last 2 items: my work permit and my license. I took a risk coming to the airport without the work permit, but I needn’t have worried.  The polite, friendly immigration officer at one point reassured me that there was no way he would send me back, as I had made it my mission to help the people of northern BC, and I had all my documents (about a centimeter thick).  I had budgeted the entire day for the process, but he had me out before 1:00PM, on my way to a nice hotel room, where later I would toss and turn the entire night, wondering what the face-to-face interview with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia would be about.

Rural health facilities find recruiting doctors difficult. While a lot of doctors can be happy with their work anywhere, most docs (not me) have spouses who prefer the amenities of bigger cities.  Though, strangely, early on I rejected a couple of opportunities in Vancouver.

Again, I needn’t have given so much energy to the interview process. It went smoothly and professionally.  I learned about the licensing process for BC, the strictness of the rules involved with the time allotment.  And I got to talk about my goals.

American doctors love to hate the Canadian system that American liberals love, and neither knows much about it. I want to find out about it from first-hand experience, and to be able to discuss it intelligently.

And the moose hunting is way better in Northern British Columbia than it is in Iowa.

Thus I found myself Friday morning walking away from a beautiful building in the heart of a vital, bustling, energetic city with my provisional British Columbia medical license not in my backpack but somewhere up in the cloud. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC doesn’t give out paper licenses anymore: they send an electronic file.

It felt a little anticlimactic, but any effort stretched over two years with thousands of emails would.





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