Urologists, critical care specialists, gastroenterologists, ophthalmologists, orthopedic surgeons and general surgeons, and doctors from other sub-specialties were among those who said they were unemployed. The report’s authors said there were three main drivers: More physicians competing for fewer resources such as operating rooms and hospital beds at the same time that relatively weak stock market performance meant many specialists were delaying their retirement. Slower job growth for specialists as the health-care system in some cases substitutes other health professionals such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants for physicians. Established specialists may also be reluctant to share resources such as operating room time. Lack of adequate career counselling and personal choices about type and location of practice when new graduates have family responsibilities (spousal employment, caring for children or elderly parents) that make it harder to move to job opportunities. Half of respondents in 2012 said they hadn’t received any careercounselling. Dr. Christine Herman is a recently trained cardiac surgeon. She is like about 31 per cent of new specialists who said they chose not to enter the job market but instead pursued more training, which they hoped would make them more employable. Herman said medical schools and the provinces and territories need to do a better job of workforce planning. “I think that the training programs aren’t in sync with the needs that are out there,” Herman said. “Long-term planning, committee planning for job availability is needed.” Steven Lewis, a health policy consultant based in Saskatchewan who was not involved in the study, thinks the situation willworsen. “I think that there is no question that …
B.C. medical specialists struggle to find work
A By Vancouver Sun October 10, 2013 A A Doctors aren’t insulated from unemployment, a surprising new report to be released today will show, as medical unemployment of specialists has hit double digit levels – more than twice as high as in the general population. Sixteen per cent of newly trained specialists said they couldn’t find work when surveyed over a two-year period by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. This number was compared to a national unemployment rate of 7.1 per cent when the report was being prepared in late summer. In B.C., the number of unemployed specialists was slightly higher than the national average at 16.5 per cent. 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.
New study shows 1 in 6 newly graduated medical specialists can’t find work
The principal investigator was Danielle Frechette, executive director for health systems innovation for the college. Frechette said the organization, which sets standards for physician education in the country, had been hearing anecdotes about rising numbers of unemployed doctors, so 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. The report paints a grim picture but does not recommend ways to fix it; that was not the mandate. The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons is convening a national summit in February to explore ideas for developing a co-ordinated approach to planning health system workforce needs, Frechette said. She noted a fix will not be easy. Were hoping that our research shows that this is not a simple issue. And that we shouldnt have any knee-jerk reactions, otherwise we will perpetuate this boom-bust cycle that weve been in. Its like Groundhog Day, she said, referring to the popular Bill Murray movie. Frechette suggested, however, that a national health systems workforce planning body would be an important start. Australia, Britain and the U.S. all have such an entity. The report pointed to a number of factors that have contributed to the oversupply of specialists. Poor stock market returns in recent years have meant that some older doctors most of whom must finance their own pension plans have delayed retirement.