Overview

Alberta regulates a number of health professions. The majority of these health professions are regulated by self-governing colleges under the Health Professions Act (HPA). All regulated health professions will eventually come under the HPA.

The HPA was developed to regulate health professions using a model that allows for non-exclusive, overlapping scopes of practice. No single profession has exclusive ownership of a specific skill or health service and different professions may provide the same health services.

For example, physicians, dentists, optometrists and midwives are authorized to prescribe drugs within the scopes of their practices.

Restricted activities

Restricted activities are high risk activities performed as part of providing a health service that require specific competencies and skills to be carried out safely. Restricted activities are not linked to any specific health profession and a number of regulated health practitioners may perform a particular restricted activity.

Health professionals who have the competencies required to perform a restricted activity safely and effectively are authorized to provide the restricted activity in their profession’s regulation.

For example, administering a vaccine is a restricted activity. Registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and registered psychiatric nurses are all authorized to administer a vaccine under their governing regulations.

Ordering X-rays is also a restricted activity. Physicians, dentists, dental hygienists, denturists, nurse practitioners, and chiropractors are authorized to order X-rays. Respiratory therapists who have completed advanced training may also be authorized to order X-rays. Radiological technologists and dental assistants may not order X-rays, but are authorized to administer them within their scope of practice.

Governance of health professions

Under the HPA, health professions are organized into regulatory bodies called colleges. These colleges are delegated powers and authorities for self-governance. Regulatory colleges are not post-secondary institutions.

The HPA requires that colleges carry out governance responsibilities in a manner that protects and serves the public interest. Health profession colleges do this by developing, maintaining and enforcing professional regulations, standards of practice and codes of ethics.

A major responsibility of professional colleges is to investigate complaints about regulated members and to impose disciplinary sanctions if appropriate.

Professional associations usually work to advance the interests of a profession or its members. Some professional associations set voluntary standards of practice and codes of ethics for their members.

Acupuncturists are not currently regulated under the HPA. Acupuncturists are governed under the Health Disciplines Act by the College and Association of Acupuncturists of Alberta. When acupuncturists are brought under the HPA, the Health Disciplines Act will be repealed.

Colleges and associations

Regulated health professions, their colleges and regulation

Health professions that will be regulated in the future

  • Physician Assistants (College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta)
  • Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (Alberta College of Medical Diagnostic and Therapeutic Technologists)
  • Counselling Therapists (College of Counselling Therapy of Alberta)
  • Addiction Counsellors (College of Counselling Therapy of Alberta)
  • Child and Youth Care Counsellors (College of Counselling Therapy of Alberta)

Health professional associations

There are a number of health professional associations in Alberta and Canada, including:

Contact

For general information about regulated health professions:

Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Phone: 780-427-1419
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)

Submit general comments or questions using the Contact Government page.