Procedural Fairness for Registration Assessments

An Alberta court has provided valuable guidance to regulators in ensuring that their registration assessments are fair. In Mohamed v College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, 2019 ABQB 657, an internationally trained anesthesiologist was required to successfully complete a three month Practice Review Assessment in order to become registered. Within weeks his assessor concluded that the applicant would not be successful and the assessment was terminated.

The Court found that the assessment process was procedurally unfair for a number of reasons:

  • The Manual for applicants was out of date and inaccurate. The Court was scathing in its comments about the need for regulators to ensure that the documents on its website are up to date. Even though the applicant had not relied on the Manual, even the letter of understanding that he did rely upon was not followed.
  • The applicant was given no orientation in advance of the assessment despite twice requesting it. Even the assessor noted that the applicant “with no identification, access cards or parking, in short, no orientation to this working environment at all”.
  • The applicant was advised to carefully review two assessment tools that were going to be used. Instead another tool was used. The Court rejected the argument that the tool used was similar and “would not have changed the outcome but that cannot be known since [the applicant] was told to carefully prepare for an assessment involving tools that were, without his knowledge, replaced with others.”
  • The applicant was given no feedback in advance of the assessor’s recommendation to terminate the assessment. Also the assessor proceeded “without consulting with several other physicians who had had an opportunity to observe [the applicant] and without sharing his own observations with [the applicant] before providing them to” the regulator.

The Court set aside the decision to require the applicant to undertake additional training before again attempting an assessment. The Court directed that the next assessment be deemed to be the applicant’s first attempt.

These procedure expectations are valuable for all registration assessment processes, including examinations.

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