Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC)

The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) was established in 1929 by an Act of the Canadian Parliament. It is a national, nonprofit organization which oversees the medical education of specialists in Canada. The RCPSC sets standards for both the training and evaluation of specialists during residency and for the highest quality of patient care. The Royal College is also responsible for writing the certifying exams within postgraduate medical education. The mission statement of the college emphasizes its dedication to setting standards for the education of specialists:

"An organization of medical specialists dedicated to ensuring the highest standards and quality of health care."

In 1996, the Royal College published the first edition of the CanMEDS framework of essential physician competencies. Since then, the document has been revised to incorporate the values and attributes required of physician specialists in today’s society. In 2005, The CanMEDS 2005 Physician Competency Framework was published as a model for medical education and physician competence both in Canada and around the world. The following CanMEDS diagram summarizes the various roles expected of the competent physician:


To view the 2015 CanMEDS Physician Competency Framework:


College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC)

The College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC), like the RCPSC, is a national voluntary organization dedicated to the education of physicians in Canada. Established in 1954, the CFPC oversees family medicine residency training programs across Canada and is also very active in continuing medical education. The goal of the organization is to promote the highest quality health care at the level of the primary physician by setting high standards in postgraduate education and encouraging continuing physician education. The College of Family Physicians of Canada outlines four principles fundamental to the practice of family medicine:

  1. The family physician is a skilled clinician.
  2. Family medicine is a community-based discipline.
  3. The family physician is a resource to a defined practice population.
  4. The patient-physician relationship is central to the role of the family physician.

For a detailed description of the four principles of family medicine refer to the CFPC link below:


Canadian Medical Association (CMA)

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) was created in 1867 by a group of 164 physicians that wanted a national medical body to represent the Canadian population. Since its establishment, the CMA has lobbied on behalf of its physician members and their patients to parliament and to society. The CMA has also become a powerful advocate for public health issues and a strong supporter of the Canadian Medicare system. In addition, the organization collects and interprets data about health care trends in Canada and ensures that physicians have a unified voice in a system with rapidly changing demands. The CMA mission statement summarizes the role of the organization in society:

“To serve and unite the physicians of Canada and be the national advocate, in partnership
with the people of Canada, for the highest standards of health and health care.”

Apart from its active role in advocacy, the Canadian Medical Association establishes various policies with regards to the pharmaceutical industry, wait times, better access to health care and other key issues. One of the most important documents published by the organization is the CMA Code of Ethics. Updated in 2004, the Code of Ethics is a guide to ethical behaviour for physicians, residents, and medical students to follow. The CMA Code of Ethics is available online at:

In 2001, the Canadian Medical Association began a project called ‘Protecting and Enhancing Professionalism in Medicine.’ The goal of the project was to develop an approach for dealing with the many challenges facing the publicly funded health care system. At the core of the project was a desire to protect the qualities of medical professionalism which were being threatened by an increased commercialization of health care. In 2002, the Committee on Ethics published a discussion paper on Professionalism in Medicine, available online on the CMA website:

For further information about the CMA or their stance on Professionalism in Medicine, visit

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Last updated: 2015.09.08