The Medical Council of Canada (MCC) was born out of the rational concerns for patient safety and developing a credential to enable physician mobility. The emotional side of the story is about patient confidence in their medical practitioners.
In pre-confederation Canada, medical practice was riddled with “demi-doctors” and medications and treatments that were unreliable and often harmful to patients. Learning for physicians was based on apprenticeship rather than formal education and study, and there was no standardized assessment of competency. This national standardization problem persisted even after confederation and into the early 20th century.
The founder of the MCC, Sir Thomas Roddick and his colleagues, recognized this serious dilemma. They undertook a complex and arduous, 18-year campaign to get agreement on legislation and regulations for a national qualification in medicine that would be acceptable in all provinces. In 1912, legislation was finally passed that created a uniform system and high standards for physician assessment and practice for all of Canada. This system was to be administered by the newly formed Medical Council of Canada.
The gratifying outcome generated by the foresight and hard work of the MCC’s founders, its staff and its regulatory and education partners is the current public belief in the medical competency of our physicians. One of the positive halo effects from this perception is our pride in Canada’s health-care system as a whole. Yes it has its detractors. This is the healthy and constructive criticism essential to continuous improvement. All in all, Canadians know they have one of the most competent cadres of physicians in the world. What they may not know is that MCC has a legislated national mandate to assure patients that their doctors, wherever they are in Canada and whatever their medical specialty, meet the same demanding, consistent standards.
Today, in addition to assessing every medical school graduate, MCC is also responsible for assessing international medical graduates (IMGs) seeking to practise here. Remarkably, these assessments are done at over 500 locations around the world and in Canada, plus additional assessments are done when IMGs are welcomed into our country.
What does tomorrow’s MCC look like? It will play a significant role in the streamlining and simplification of assessment procedures and examinations. It will maintain a complete record of every physician practising in Canada while collaborating with partners to assure Canadians that our physicians have the most current knowledge, best practices and procedures. It will continue to conduct its rigorous research on the most advanced methods of physician assessment. And it will work closely with the medical regulators and educators, and because MCC’s examinations results are used as one of the measures for the accreditation of each faculty of medicine, the MCC will continue to influence medical education curriculum.
MCC is a great Canadian success story—the envy of many countries around the world. Working closely with our partners, we endeavor to keep it that way by serving the medical profession and Canadians the only way we know how…with dedication, vigilance and excellence.