International research has generated strong evidence that healthcare providers (HCPs) play a key role in the return to work (RTW) process. However, pressure on consultation time, administrative challenges and limited knowledge about a patient's workplace can thwart meaningful engagement. Aim: Our study sought to understand how HCPs interact with workers compensation boards (WCBs), manage the treatment of workers compensation patients and navigate the RTW process. Method: The study involved in-depth interviews with 97 HCPs in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador and interviews with 34 case managers (CMs). An inductive, constant comparative analysis was employed to develop key themes. Findings: Most HCPs did not encounter significant problems with the workers compensation system or the RTW process when they treated patients who had visible, acute, physical injuries, but faced challenges when they encountered patients with multiple injuries, gradual-onset or complex illnesses, chronic pain and mental health conditions. In these circumstances, many experienced the workers compensation system as opaque and confusing. A number of systemic, process and administrative hurdles, disagreements about medical decisions and lack of role clarity impeded the meaningful engagement of HCPs in RTW. In turn, this has resulted in challenges for injured workers (IWs), as well as inefficiencies in the workers compensation system. Conclusion: This study raises questions about the appropriate role of HCPs in the RTW process. We offer suggestions about practices and policies that can clarify the role of HCPs and make workers compensation systems easier to navigate for all stakeholders.