I’m Kate Dewhirst.

I’m a lawyer who writes about legal issues affecting healthcare in Canada

Kate Dewhirst Health Law - bringing the law to life. Meet Kate (in 13 seconds)

Key issues hospitals need to manage when recruiting non-licensed MDs to non-medical positions

Posted by

Not everyone who trains as a physician practices medicine or continues to practice medicine. Some choose to work in a hospital environment but not as a physician such as in administration, research, information technology, finance, risk, law, policy, public relations, or interdisciplinary professional practice. Medical training can be an enormous advantage for a candidate applying to a non-medical role in a hospital.

There are three key issues hospitals need to manage when recruiting non-licensed physicians to non-medical roles within the hospital.

  1. Clarify that they have a non-medical position and that they cannot provide medical services: Only physicians who are licensed, registered and insured (hold professional indemnity protection coverage) in Ontario are permitted to provide medical services within a hospital.  When recruiting medically trained individuals to a non-medical position, you must make it clear that they must not engage in any activities where they are actually providing medical services or could be perceived as providing medical services. For example, no “touching” patients, no clinical consultations, no diagnosing.
  2. Clarify that they are not part of the Professional Staff: The Public Hospitals Act regulates the relationship between hospitals and its physicians as members of the Professional Staff appointed annually by the Board.  That relationship is very different than a normal employment relationship or independent contractor agreement.  It is important to clarify the position is not included in the category of the Board-appointed Professional Staff. There are legal rights and responsibilities for Professional Staff that should not attach to a non-medical position on your team.
  3. Clarify their professional use of titles such as “doctor” or “physician” or “surgeon” or “Dr.”: In a hospital environment, using any of these titles can be very confusing if someone is not practicing as a physician.  Individuals not licensed to practice medicine in Ontario, should exercise caution about holding themselves out as physicians. The Medicine Act affords title protection for using the titles of physician or surgeon or abbreviations for those who are members of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.   Proactively clarify how they can reference their educational training of “MD” in your professional context so as to avoid misunderstandings.  Please note that if the individual is also a PhD, they may rightfully use the title of “Dr.”, but you may wish them to clarify that they are not licensed as an MD.

Often Medical Affairs and the Chief of Staff are not involved when a department recruits and hires a medically trained candidate into a non-medical role.  I recommend you remind your Human Resources leadership to consult with Medical Administration and the Chief to ensure the right language is inserted into the offer letter to clarify the above issues.

If you are interested in more information on physician issues with hospitals, read the now free resource I wrote for the Ontario Hospital Association on Professional Staff Credentialing.


If you enjoyed this article please share it:


Previous and next posts from Kate:

Some of Kate’s recent and upcoming events

Team Privacy Training Events
October 16, October 24 and November 21

For Primary Care clinics, Children’s Aid and FHTs

Kate trains health professionals from many more primary care organizations how being privacy-respectful can improve therapeutic relationships. More details...

Speaking event October 23, 2019

Osgoode Professional Development – Mental health Certificate

Kate joins the faculty for this training event. More details...

Primary care webinars: Managing Incapacity & Consent to Treatment

Part of Kate’s monthly webinar series.

Our October webinar is about managing incapacity, and the November title is Consent to Treatment.
Full details of the 2020 webinar series and registration here.

Advanced Privacy Officer training
December 10, 2019

For experienced Privacy Officers within healthcare organisations.

This one day training course focuses on how to handle difficult privacy situations using real-life (but anonymized) case studies and role-play. Full details and registration here...

Privacy Officer training
January 20 & 27 and February 3,10 & 18, 2020

Kate is the program chair for the Osgoode Certificate in Privacy in Healthcare.

This program explores the range of privacy interests that must be protected in the day-to-day treatment of patients, the development of information systems and the creation of institutional policies. More details...

Free healthcare privacy webinar - ask me anything!
October 2, November 6 and December 4

Free webinars - advance registration needed

Whether you're an experienced privacy officer or new in the field, pick Kate’s brain for free for an hour, in this live webinar. No charge, but you’ll need to register in advance.

Kate Dewhirst Health Law

Kate says:

My mission is bringing the law to life. I make legal theory understandable, accessible and fun! I’m available and love to work for all organizations in the healthcare sector across Ontario and beyond.

Subscribe to my mailing list and keep up to date with news:

Latest Tweets

The main message: A doctor (or any other health information custodian) should never ignore a patient’s access reque… https://t.co/HW8mrFymnC

about 22 hours ago

What happens when someone asks for access to recordings? It depends. Here’s a story about what might happen.… https://t.co/kRnDh5IOo2

12:01 PM Oct 12th

When you have an early warning system you don't hold all those reports until the end of the year. You look for proa… https://t.co/mz22nGp89F

12:01 PM Oct 11th

contact details

901 King Street West Suite 400 East Tower
Toronto Ontario M5V 3H5

(416) 855 9557

.