Comparing the scopes of practice of geriatric-focused physicians in Canada: a qualitative study of core competencies Academic Article uri icon

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  • Background

    Given long-standing deficits of medical expertise to care for a growing population of older adults, it is important to understand the geriatric medical workforce. We aimed to describe and compare the scopes of practice of the 3 geriatric-focused physician providers in Canada (i.e., family physicians with certification in Care of the Elderly [FM-COE], geriatricians and geriatric psychiatrists).


    We conducted a qualitative study to compare competencies across geriatric-focused physician provider types in Canada, using a directed content analysis approach. We identified and obtained relevant publicly available documents that described the competencies required for certification by searching the websites of The College of Family Physicians of Canada and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada between June 2 and July 31, 2020. An inductive content analysis was used to compare content within each CanMEDS Role according to the CanMEDS Framework.


    We identified and obtained 4 relevant publicly available documents describing the competencies required for geriatric-focused certification for the 3 geriatric-focused physician provider types. We found substantial overlaps in the expected medical expertise of FM-COE and geriatricians. The few substantive differences across providers may result from different priorities about which competencies were made explicit for providers. The focused nature of mental health care is apparent in several competencies unique to geriatric psychiatry.


    This work highlights substantial overlaps in the scopes of practice for FM-COE and geriatricians. Our findings may encourage efforts to develop more robust delineations between the scopes of practice of these related professionals to facilitate inter-specialty collaboration to lead to more equitable and accessible medical care for older adults.

publication date

  • April 2022