Law & Governance, 19(5) November 2017

Invited Essay

Enabling Evolving Practice for Healthcare Professionals: A Regulator’s Journey     

Kathy Wilkie and John Tzountzouris


[This article was originally published in Healthcare Papers, 16(4)]

The inherent risk involved in the provision of healthcare services leads to the inevitable requirement of health human resource oversight to protect the public from harm (Bayne 2012). As healthcare systems evolve, so do theoretical models for, and practical applications of, health human resource oversight policy and processes. The College of Medical Laboratory Technologists of Ontario (CMLTO), as one of 26 health regulatory bodies in Ontario, implements programs or processes to enact and support changes in the knowledge, skill and judgment of their members. Determining what healthcare trends are affecting different healthcare professions and professionals, and how a regulatory institution, with a very specific mandate prescribed by government legislation, can enable necessary changes is explored in this paper through a case study of the CMLTO's journey to redefine "professionalism" and enable evolving practices of medical laboratory technologists (MLTs).

A brief overview of health professional regulation, explored through a functional taxonomy, provides a contextual foundation to the CMLTO's journey to redefine professionalism. This approach also enables a discussion of the "sharpening" of certain regulatory approaches, that is, that opportunities to improve regulatory approaches are revealed via public feedback and modifications are made to rectify the historic experiences of the public.

As the role of regulatory institutions continues to evolve to include a more prominent focus on proactive approaches to regulation, the ability to enable and support healthcare practitioners to respond to changes in the healthcare system becomes increasingly important. The case of the CMLTO's journey to redefine professionalism highlights an opportunity for a profession, and indeed its professionals, to evolve their culture to contribute their unique value to the healthcare system in response to system-level trends.


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