Health Professionals, Refresher Training – and Disciplinary Action

Health professionals, whether doctors, dentists, midwives, physiotherapists, and the like, are required by their licensing bodies to undergo refresher training at regular intervals.  Where a health professional fails to keep up with the required training, they risk being disciplined and potentially struck off.

A recent case, where a doctor refused to undergo refresher training in Québec, highlights some important issues relating to refresher training.  The doctor, a haematologist, had been employed solely as a researcher and did not undertake any clinical work.  He enjoyed privileges in the medical genetics service but not in the hematology service.

In due course, he could not renew the financing he needed for his research and decided to return to clinical practice and he was offered work in the medical genetics clinic, to undertake clinical follow-up of patients at risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer.  However, he was asked to undergo refresher training relating to breast and gynecological examinations – and he refused.

The health institution concerned therefore decided not to renew his status and privileges – a decision upheld by the Tribunal Administratif du Québec (‘TAQ’).  TAQ made clear that a health institution can require a doctor to undergo refresher training to acquire skills necessary to his or her practice.  In addition, having professional privileges do not equate to having acquired rights.


Health professionals need to keep on top of the game in terms of their skills and competency.  The risk if they fail to do so includes making errors, and consequential negligence claims from patients who have suffered harm as a result.

It is important to remember that medical licensing authorities undertake in-depth assessments of the clinical skills and abilities of physicians with suspected deficiencies in competence.  Once a doctor has received their licence to practice, they are responsible for maintaining their skills and knowledge levels through continuing medical education and refresher training.

Whilst the vast majority of doctors maintain their competence, some fail to do so.  The licensing authorities are responsible for identifying these individuals and, where necessary, identifying remedial solutions (refresher training, for instance) or removing them from the register.

What does this mean?

Health professionals must comply with the requirements to maintain their levels of skill and competence.  If they fail to do so, they face investigation by the licensing authorities, and potential regulatory and disciplinary action against them.  The professional and personal price to the individual concerned could be incalculable.

If you are facing issues with the medical or other licensing authorities, contact our experienced Professional Misconduct and Disciplinary Tribunals lawyers at Rogerson Law Group for urgent advice and assistance.

Rogerson Law Group provides professional misconduct and disciplinary proceedings services in the entire GTA including Toronto, Scarborough, Mississauga, Vaughan, Brampton, Richmond Hill, Etobicoke, and Barrie and surrounding areas with offices located in downtown Toronto, Barrie and and associated office in Ottawa.

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