Diagnostic Medical Sonography

DMS rostering update

Alberta Health is currently amending the Medical Diagnostic and Therapeutic Technologists Profession Regulation (“the Regulation”) under the Health Professions Act (HPA), which will direct our college to regulate Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (DMSs) within Alberta. Mandatory registration/regulation of DMS will start once the regulation comes into effect.

While it is difficult to anticipate how long this might take, the Government of Alberta has indicated that this will likely be in place in 2020.

If you are practicing diagnostic medical sonography in Alberta, you may volunteer to apply to be on the Alberta DMS Roster. This will help ease the transition into registration once DMSs become regulated.

Who are diagnostic medical sonographers?

  • Diagnostic medical sonographers (DMSs) are integral to the healthcare team. Through the application of ultrasound imaging, DMSs play a critical role in the diagnostic care and management of a patient.
  • Sonographers practice in the public health sector as well as in physician community clinics.
  • DMSs perform imaging procedures including general, obstetrical, cardiac, vascular and musculoskeletal imaging.

The journey to regulation of DMS

In 2013, sonographers made a decision to pursue self-regulation. The Alberta Diagnostic Sonographers Association (ADSA) approached the College.

A robust stakeholder consultation was undertaken with:

  • Alberta Health Services
  • Cardiology groups in Alberta
  • Alberta Society of Radiologists
  • College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta – Diagnostic Imaging Advisory
  • All accredited diagnostic imaging facilities in Alberta
  • All regulated health Colleges in Alberta
  • Sonography Canada
  • Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada

The consultation confirmed that there was significant momentum in the profession to regulate DMSs for the protection of the public in Alberta.

In 2014, Alberta Health declared its support of the regulation of DMSs through the College.

In 2016, the HPA was amended to provide the pathway for assurance of public protection, leading to greater public awareness and confidence in what diagnostic medical sonographers practice.

In 2020, it is expected that regulations will be passed by the Alberta Government that will declare DMSs to be officially regulated through our college.

What regulation means to the public

  • Assurance that all sonographers practicing in Alberta are highly trained health professionals who meet established standards for entry-to-practice and throughout the practice of their profession.
  • A fair and transparent process for complaints and unprofessional conduct issues is established.
  • The public has access to a full registry of all registered sonographers practicing in Alberta.
  • All sonographers are required to continue to meet professional development requirements for their profession.
  • All sonographers have to abide by the College’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.

To learn more about the regulatory framework and what it means to be a regulated health professional in Alberta, please watch the following webinar:

What regulation means to sonographers

  • The public is protected.
  • The profession of diagnostic medical sonography is more highly respected through self-regulation, which means that sonographers have been trusted with the privilege to regulate their own profession.
  • Sonographers participate in defining and maintaining standards of practice and professionalism within their chosen occupation.
  • DMSs have defined standards for accountability and discipline, increasing confidence in their professional abilities and competencies.
  • Having a regulatory body to establish and administer standards for registration and practice protects the public from incompetent and unqualified practitioners.

What establishes self-regulation?

  • The Health Professions Act (HPA) was proclaimed in Alberta in 2001.
  • The HPA creates health colleges and delegates regulatory authority.
  • Our college was proclaimed under the HPA in 2005.
  • The primary purpose of regulation is protection of the public.
  • Colleges are governed by members of the professions.

What is self-regulation?

  • Members of a profession are best-suited to govern their own profession based on their professional knowledge, skills and judgment.
  • It is granted by the the provincial government on behalf of the people of Alberta.
  • Self-regulation is a privilege, not a right.

What does this mean for current members of the College?

  • The College is very pleased to broaden its umbrella to include our diagnostic imaging colleagues. Our college is a natural fit based on the consistencies and parallels already present with the medical radiation technologist (MRT) and electroneurophysiology technologist (ENP) specialties.

What does this mean for sonographers?

  • In the future, permits to practice all applications and specialties performed in diagnostic medical sonography (general, cardiac and/or vascular) in Alberta will be managed through the College; this includes areas of practice such as musculoskeletal, fetal, cardiac, pediatric, etc.
  • It is anticipated that credentialed sonographers who met specified criteria would transition to a provincial register; other competent practitioners would be grand-parented at this time of regulation based on an assessment of professional experience, education and/or certification.
  • The grandparenting window will be determined by the College and Alberta Health.
  • It is not anticipated that the regulation of sonographers will have any significant impact on practitioner availability and services to the public.
  • Following the grandparenting window, sonographers will be assessed individually for registration on a prescribed list of criteria that will be published by the College.

Do I need professional liability insurance (PLI)?

All regulated members must have a minimum $1,000,000 PLI and must provide confirmation of PLI through their application form and annual registration renewal.

The College does not offer PLI. PLI is offered through Sonography Canada membership, Medical Imaging Education and other sources. We strongly advise you to review the nature and content of coverage from other sources before purchasing, and to make sure that that the plan is well considered.

The College encourages you to always hold your own personal PLI in addition to your employer’s insurance:

  • Employer policies do not always cover expenses such as legal defence in professional disciplinary matters.
  • The employer’s insurance company may sue you for reimbursement of any money they paid out as a result of your actions.
  • Your personal PLI also follows you if you work at multiple sites with more than one employer.
  • When you retire or leave employment, personal PLI covers you for a period of time during which patients may still bring a claim against you.
  • Your employer insurance may not cover you for any advice or volunteering you do outside of your work.

Colleges are governed by members of the profession

  • Members determine entry-to-practice eligibility.
  • Members set the standards for the profession.
  • Members identify how to assess competence.
  • Members set standards of conduct; issues of unprofessional conduct are reviewed by their peers.
  • Members define all College fees.
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