Before you begin practicing

The following section will provide more information and resources on:

Practice advice

AMA Practice Management Program

The AMA’s Practice Management Program (PMP) assists physicians interested in working with their respective health regions to develop Primary Care Networks (PCNs). PMP provides physicians with business consulting services ensuring they are in a position to make informed decisions throughout the PCN business planning process.

The PMP and AMA have created a guidebook, The Physician's Guide to Starting a Practice, to assist physicians in Alberta in successfully setting up a practice. Learn about examination room tips, practice incorporation considerations and more.

MD Financial Management: Practice management support

A leading provider of technology and practice management solutions, MD Financial Management can help residents save time, optimize revenues and enhance patient care with billing, scheduling and EMR software, consulting services, seminars, insured billing services and web portals for physicians and patients. Call the hotline with your questions, 1-800-361-9151.

For more information, call the Hotline at 1.800.361.9151.

Practice types and remuneration

As a physician, you have some choices about how you would like to practice and how you would like to be paid. The following information is a brief overview of some of these options and includes links to other resources that may help you determine which might be best for you.

Group practice

While a solo practice affords complete autonomy and dedicated resources, it also leaves you with the burden of all start-up costs and overhead expenses.

Sharing office space with another medical professional of the same or another discipline can be a satisfying and cost-effective way to practice. There are two primary types of group practice:

  • Partnership: Share expenses, income and liability.
  • Association: Share some or all of the practice expenses (as defined by an association agreement) without sharing income or liability.

Whatever you choose, protect your interests – have your financial and legal representatives review all contracts before you sign.

Learn more about group practice options in the CMA’s New in Practice guide

Salaried positions

As a resident, you are paid according to the contract negotiated for you by PARA. You may opt to continue the security of an agreed-upon salary (unaffected by the number of services performed) by accepting a position as an employee or contractor with a hospital or other organization.

Unlike a self-employed physician, you may not be able to deduct expenses from your income such as professional association fees or malpractice insurance.

Learn more about salaried positions in the CMA’s New in Practice guide

Alternate Relationship Plans

Rather than billing the government health care insurance plan on a fee-for-service basis, you may opt for an Alternate Relationship Plan (ARP). ARPs provide physicians with set remuneration amounts in exchange for delivering:

  • Services to a specific patient population.
  • Services in a specific location. 
  • Services for a specific block of time.

Individual physicians, physician groups or health authorities may initiate ARPs.

Learn more about ARPs

Incorporation

Incorporation of your practice means that shareholders (you, perhaps your family members) own shares in a corporation. The corporation owns the medical practice, of which you would become an employee.

The Health Professions Act allows for the practice of medicine by professional corporations under certain conditions, including:

  • The professional corporation must be incorporated under the Business Corporations Act.
  • The professional corporation must obtain a permit from the College of Physicians and Surgeons – in this case, the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA).

There are advantages and disadvantages to incorporation, which should be discussed in detail with your legal and financial experts before you make this important decision. Don’t forget: your membership in the AMA/CMA gives you access to the financial advisors at MD Financial Management.

Read an overview of incorporation in the CMA’s New in Practice guide
Should you incorporate? Try the CMA’s assessment tool
CPSA’s Professional Corporations FAQs
Read the CPSA’s Professional Corporation guidelines

Taxes

Your tax situation may depend on whether you are self-employed or a salaried employee, and on the province in which you will be earning. Generally:

  • Salaried employees will have taxes automatically deducted from their paycheques by their employers. 
  • Self-employed physicians will need to calculate the taxes they owe, but may also deduct business-related expenses incurred to earn their income (e.g., continuing medical education, office expenses, professional association membership fees).

Other income may also be taxable, such as government benefits or investments. Consult your financial/tax specialist regarding your particular situation.

Don’t forget about the financial advisors at MD Financial Management

Employment

There are a number of places you can look for available positions/practice opportunities in Alberta:

  • Alberta Physician Link
    A service of The Alberta Rural Physician Action Plan (RPAP), Physician Link is a provincial website to facilitate the recruitment of qualified physicians to Alberta on behalf of Alberta Health Services and their partner communities.
  • Doctor Jobs Alberta
    Alberta Health Services' physician/practice opportunity database.
  • AMA’s Classified Ads
    Published twice each month in the MD Scope email newsletter and in each bi-monthly issue of the Alberta Doctors’ Digest, these ads contain a variety of practice opportunities across the province.
  • AMA Physician Locum Services® 
    A unique practice option for locums who contract with the AMA to provide rural/regional locum coverage.
  • Canadian Association of Internes and Residents (CAIR) Transition into Practice Service
    Are you looking for a job when you finish residency but having difficulty finding all your employment options? CAIR is here to provide assistance and advice.

The Alberta Medical Association stands as an advocate for its physician members, providing leadership & support for their role in the provision of quality health care.