WINNIPEG, Sept. 29 /CNW Telbec/ - Increasing career and personal
pressures on "baby boomer" physicians will exacerbate the shortage of medical
professionals in Canada, says a psychiatrist and researcher at the University
of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine.
Health Canada estimates that by 2010, Canada will be short
5800 physicians. However, Dr. Derek Puddester notes that new physicians tend
to practice differently - a productivity difference that could translate into
a real shortage of 10,400 physicians.
"Boomer physicians are frequently responsible for both their children and
parents, and are feeling the effects of aging bodies. They also work extremely
hard, often at a pace that is self-sacrificing - it simply isn't sustainable
forever" says Puddester. "At the same time, younger physicians are demanding
greater life/work balance and balk at working the long hours common amongst
their older colleagues. This is a significant challenge for those who lead and
fund health services, and translates into difficulty with timely access to
care for patients."
Puddester says while younger physicians may have a different perspective
on work/life balance than older ones, they are more likely to take a holistic
approach and are adept at working in teams. They're also more committed to
protecting time with their families, friends, and selves.
He further says that Canadians value safe workplaces and recognize it is
unhealthy for physicians to work up to 36 hours without a break. He believes
the critical shortage of physicians is the result of extremely poor planning
by past governments, and it is up to the public to push elected officials to
adopt a more thoughtful and coordinated approach to human resource planning in
the health field.
"Physicians - regardless of their generation - will continue to be there
to serve the needs of Canadians," says Puddester. "Surveys show that
physicians of all ages derive their greatest work satisfaction from their
relationships with patients. The bigger challenge is for health care leaders
to move the system towards a model where physicians will have the time,
supports, and resources they need to care for patients presenting with
increasingly complex health care needs."
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