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Use of title

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Reserved titles are a central and critical public protection element of B.C.'s health professions regulatory framework.

What will I learn?​​

  • Who can use the reserved title “midwife"
  • What title(s) to use when identifying as a midwife​

What's in a tit​​le?

The reserved title “midwife" carries significant meaning and conveys a level of knowledge and skill in managing the health care of a client. Midwifery is regulated by BCCNM under the Health Professions Act.

The Health Professions Act restricts the use of reserved titles, abbreviations of the title, or an equivalent title in another language, for use by registrants of a regulatory college. You can review the BCCNM bylaws, Division 6, Sections 134-138 for specifics about classes of midwife registrants.

If you do not hold registration with the college, you are not authorized to use the title “midwife" or any of its variations (“registered midwife," “sage-femme," “sage-femme autorisée," “Indigenous midwife," or “sage-femme autochtone" or a variation of any of those titles, or the abbreviation “RM" or “sfa," except in conjunction with the term “non-practising").

Only BCCNM registrants may use a reserved midwifery title when practising in B.C. This means you are not authorized to use the reserved title when you are still applying or registering with BCCNM. You must receive official confirmation of your status as a BCCNM registrant before using the title.

Using the title “midwife" without proper qualifications is an offence under section 51 of the Health Professions Act, is fraudulent, and may have legal and regulatory consequences.

Test your "use of title" know-how with the scenarios below​.

New grad, new title​​

Brianna is a new graduate in the process of registering with BCCNM. While preparing to write her midwifery exam, she is working in her first job as a midwife. During her orientation, a colleague tells her she should sign RM, for Registered Midwife, after her name. Brianna thought she was supposed to use the title RM Provisional until she passes her exam and is converted to full practicing status, but now she’s not sure.

What title can Brianna use?

Brianna is right: she has provisional registration and should use the title and sign her documentation as Registered Midwife (Provisional) or RM(P). When Brianna passes the Canadian Midwifery Registration Examination (CMRE), her provisional registration can be converted to practising and she can use the title RM.  

Practising vs. non-practising status

Maddi, an RM, is going on maternity leave. She contacts BCCNM and changes her registration status from practising to non-practising. Maddi asks Meera, the clinic manager, to update her profile on the clinic’s website to reflect her status as a "non-practising midwife." Meera says that isn’t necessary as Maddi is still a midwife. Maddi is confused as she thought she was only authorized to use the title registered midwife if she had practicing status.

What title can she use?

Maddi is correct. Only midwives who have a practicing registration with BCCNM are authorized to use the title "r​​egistered midwife/RM." If you change your registration status to non-practicing, you must use the title "non-practicing midwife." If you hold no registration with the college, you are not authorized to use the title “midwife” or any of its variations. 

Midwives who don’t hold a practicing registration and have a website that includes the word “midwife” (e.g., can’t use a reserved title in the website’s URL or email address (e.g., as stated in the HPA Section 12.1 (3): A person other than a registrant of a college must not use a name, title, description or abbreviation of a name or title, or an equivalent of a name or​ title in another language, in any manner that expresses or implies that he or she is a registrant or associated with the college.​

Moving to a new jurisdiction

Lin completed her midwifery education in Ontario and worked there as a midwife for 15 years. She is now moving to B.C. and wishes to continue practising in her new home province. With all the preparations for the move, she has let her registration in Ontario. lapse.  When applying for registration and corresponding with BCCNM she signs her name “Lin Nguyen, RM.”  Should she do that?

What title can she use?

No. As Lin no longer holds a practising registration, she is not authorized to use the title "midwife"​ until she is registered in one of the classes of midwifery registration outlined in the BCCNM bylaws. 

Individuals who hold valid practising registration from another jurisdiction, but are not registered with BCCNM, are not auth​orized to use the title "midwife" in B.C. as this implies they are registered with BCCNM. When referring to themselves they should state they have a practising or non-practising registration in the applicable jurisdiction but not in B.C.

​Appropriate use of "doctor” in your c​​​redentials

If you're a nurse or midwife ​with doctoral education, you can use the academic title “doctor."1 But, it's important to remember that most people associate "doctor" with medical doctors or physicians. Even though you've earned a doctoral degree, it's important to communicate your role clearly. Using “doctor" in a health-care setting might confuse or mislead clients, health professionals, and organizations.

Your a​cademic credentials don't allow you to practise midwifery, practical nursing, nursing, or psychiatric nursing. So, avoid using your academic credentials in a way that suggests you're registered for a designation you're not.

So, how can you show​​ your achievements without causing confusion?

  • Introduce​​ yourself with your name, role, and reserved title when you firs​​t meet clients or health-care professionals. Keep reminding them of your role and avoid using language or statements that may cause confusion. If someone calls you "doc​​tor" thinking you're a physician, correct them.

  • Use your name and the regulatory title that reflects your designation and, for ​​NPs, your stream of practice. 

  • Don't call yourself "d​octor" in situations where the title may confuse or mislead clients or the health-care team.

  • Use your regula​tory title appropriately in documentation, signatures​, business cards, websites, and advertisements. (You can find more about titles and marketing in Bylaws Section 166).​


1. B.C.'s Medical Practitioners Regulation reserves the title “doctor" for health professionals registered under the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC. However, the regulation allows for those with an academic designation like a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy), DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice), or DN (Doctor of Nursing) to use the title “doctor."​

Rel​ated BCCNM public notices


​​Need help or support?​

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We acknowledge the rights and title of the First Nations on whose collective unceded territories encompass the land base colonially known as British Columbia. We give specific thanks to the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ speaking peoples the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) and sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations and the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh-ulh Sníchim speaking Peoples the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation), on whose unceded territories BCCNM’s office is located. We also give thanks for the medicines of these territories and recognize that laws, governance, and health systems tied to these lands and waters have existed here for over 9000 years.

We also acknowledge the unique and distinct rights, including rights to health and wellness, of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples from elsewhere in Canada who now live in British Columbia. As leaders in the settler health system, we acknowledge our responsibilities to these rights under international, national, and provincial law.​