So, You Want To Be A Doctor? Facing A Job Crunch, Canadian Medical Association Updates Profiles Of Specialties

New doctors are competing for fewer resources, the college says. Hospitals are cutting beds and operating room time. In addition, many older doctors are postponing retirement because of a relatively weak stock market. But others say medical schools arenat producing the right mix and number of doctors.AFor example, Canadaas population is aging. Yet, in 2012, Canadaas medical schools graduated Ajust 17 specialists in geriatric medicine, compared to 142 pediatricians and sub-specialists who treat children only. Francescutti says a national physician workforce strategy is needed to ensure medical schools are producing the optimal numbers of specialists based on the health resources and needs of the population. For new graduates, the tightest squeezes are in specialties such as critical care, gastroenterology, neurosurgery, ophthalmology, radiation oncology and urology.AThe Canadian Orthopedic Association alone is predicting there will be no jobs available for about 50 of the surgeons-in-training who will graduate from their residency programs next year, the CMA reports on its website a an aunacceptablea situation, the orthopedic surgeonsa group says, given the long waits Canadians are already facing to replace diseased or worn out hips and knees. For graduates who do land a hospital position, newly minted orthopedic surgeons can expect to earn an average gross annual income ofA$389,268 before overhead, according to the CMA profiles. Other high-grossing jobs in medicine include cardiovascular/thoracic (CVT) surgeons, who gross, on average, $472,625 annually, with 28 per cent of that going to overhead costs such as nursesa salaries and office rent. They work, on average, 77.5 hours per week and spend another 73 hours per month on-call on direct patient care. The job requires along and irregular hoursa working in alife-and-death situations and emergencies requiring rapid, critical decisions.a Forty-three per cent of CVT surgeons are aged 55 or older; the overwhelming majority a 91 per cent a is male. Only 34 per cent report they are asatisfieda or avery satisfieda with the balance between their professional and personal commitments. Neurosurgeons averaged $424,963 in gross earnings in 2011/12.

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B.C. medical specialists struggle to find work

The findings are counter-intuitive, given patient complaints about accessing timely care and surgery. “Never in my medical career have I even heard of unemployed doctors, until now, so this comes as a real surprise,” said Dr. William Cunningham, president of the B.C. Medical Association. Cunningham has been practising medicine since 1986 and works in a hospital emergency department on Vancouver Island. The report doesn’t address the issue of whether there are too many specialists for the Canadian health care system, in which operating room time and budgets are fixed. But it makes it clear that doctors are competing for resources. The report also pinpoints reasons why newly certified specialists are having trouble finding work: older doctors are delaying retirement; established surgeons are protecting their precious (often only one day a week) operating room time so young doctors aren’t getting the hospital/surgical positions they covet; and a lack of cohesion in medical resource planning and coordination between medical schools, governments and hospital or health care authorities. As well, there are relatively new categories of health professionals encroaching on doctors’ territory, such as advanced practice nurses, nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Respondents to the survey were graduates of Canada’s 17 medical schools and/or Canadian residency training programs in fields such as cardiac surgery, neurosurgery, nuclear medicine, ophthalmology, radiation oncology, urology, critical care, gastroenterology, general surgery, hematology and medical microbiology. The report does not include data on family doctors. While about one in five specialists or subspecialists said they are having challenges finding jobs, another 22 per cent of newly certified specialists said they are taking locum positions or other various part-time positions. Locums assume another doctor’s duties during holidays or extended absences. In the survey, 40 per cent said they weren’t happy they had to do that. Dr. Dave Snadden, associate dean of education at UBC medical school, said since the report is based on a survey with a response rate of about onethird (43 per cent in B.C.) of 4,233 doctors polled, it has to be seen as less than perfect from a research methodology perspective.

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Surgeons, medical specialists can’t find jobs, study finds

Dr. Joslyn Warwaruk is photographed at the Teen Health Centre in Windsor on Thursday, February 16, 2012. Warwaruk is the new president of the Medical Society.                 (TYLER BROWNBRIDGE / The Windsor Star)

It sets standards for physician education in the country and had been hearing anecdotes about rising numbers of unemployed doctors. So it decided to assess the situation. The ensuing report, released Thursday, is based on a survey of over 4,000 newly graduated doctors and interviews with about 50 people knowledgeable about the situation deans of medical schools, hospital CEOs and the like. It does not recommend ways to fix the issue. Dr. Michael Rieder, assistant dean of the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry who was at the Windsor campus Thursday, said part of the problem is the way the medical system is structured. But theres also doctors choosing not to retire and new ones not wanting to look for work outside of Toronto and other large cities. Im not sure that there are too few doctors. I think theyre poorly distributed. There is still a shortage of family doctors in Windsor and Essex County and the report might push some medical students to consider a family practice, he said. If you want to go to medical school and get a job, I dont know of too many unemployed family doctors, matter of fact I dont know any, Rieder said. With files from Helen Branswell, THE CANADIAN PRESS Tags: doctors , Essex County Medical Society president Dr. Joslyn Warwaruk , shortage , specialists , surgeons , Windsor , Windsor Regional Hospital Lively discourse is the lifeblood of any healthy democracy and The Star encourages readers to engage in robust debates about our stories. But, please, avoid personal attacks and keep your comments respectful and relevant.

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