When was the last time you thought about whether your doctor, massage therapist, optometrist or dentist was actually allowed to use their professional title? For many, it’s not a thought that crosses their mind often. One only needs to do a quick Google search to see examples of people posing as health professionals when they might not be qualified or authorized to practise that health profession.
In Ontario, there are almost 400,000 regulated health professionals registered with a specific college. These colleges are not schools – they are regulatory bodies that oversee health professionals such as audiologists, dietitians, kinesiologists, midwives and psychotherapists. Only people registered with the colleges can use those professional titles.
The colleges restrict use of titles (e.g., “doctor”, “nurse”, “physiotherapist”) to people registered with the college. That means that anyone using these titles has met and continues to meet certain standards and rules that allow them to practise their profession.
The next time you’re visiting a health professional, consider checking whether they are authorized to practise by viewing their profile on a college’s website. These profiles are housed in what colleges might call “public registers” or “Find a…” or “Search for…” on their websites. On these profiles you can find information like the professional’s contact details, their registration history, and if there are any concerns or complaints against them.
If you can’t find the person you’re looking for on the college’s website, alerting the college would prompt a closer look. Anyone found using a protected title without being registered with a college – no matter what other certifications or memberships they may have – is considered an illegal practitioner.