Health-care checkup: Why can’t newly graduated specialist doctors in Canada find jobs?
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 … almost doubling medical school enrolments since the late 1990s combined with easier paths to licensure for international medical grads was the wrong thing to do. We didn’t think it through as a country.” Just under 20 per cent of recently certified specialists said they’d look for work outside of Canada, which could promote a “brain drain” to the U.S., the report’s authors said. Dr. Andrew Padmos, chief executive officer of the Royal College, said more research and consultation needs to be done to understand the challenge. The college would like to see a pan-Canadian think-tank to plan the health workforce. Australia, Britain and the U.S.
Despite the generally accepted magic number, some doctors perform as many as 400 per year. The Canadian Society of Cardiac Surgeons is pushing for a policy shift that would see doctors commit to fewer surgeries and a mentorship program, but there is resistance. Why? Well, says Scully, if people are doing 350 or 400 open hearts, theyre being paid very well indeed to do that. The question is: are they prepared to back off on that kind of earning potential? Obviously, my view is a controversial one among the very busy surgeons. Many in the health field feel Canada is moving rapidly toward another brain drain, particularly with the U.S. facing a widespread shortage of nearly every kind of physician. The Association of American Medical Colleges predicts the country will have 62,900 fewer doctors than it needs by 2015. American recruiters are likely to look first to Canada to help fill the gap. The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada has been tracking unemployment issues for the past two years and is set to release a report on the scope later this month. Preliminary research shows employment challenges in more than a dozen specialties, including neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery and radiation oncology. The Canadian Association of Internes and Residents has launched a program that helps newly trained doctors find hospital positions. These measures are meant to be first steps in addressing a problem that will require further study and action. The drivers of unemployment are many, complex and not yet fully understood. Both organizations are advocating for a national health human resources strategy. Health experts say hiring highly trained young specialists to work in associate or assistant positions that dont embrace the full spectrum of their training has become an increasingly common practice across specialties, with some making as little as $70,000 to $90,000 a year.