National health human resources plan badly needed, physician groups say
OTTAWA, Dec. 6, 2012 /CNW/ - Canadian associations representing doctors,
residents and medical students agree that Canada needs a better way to
anticipate the future supply of physicians. A new national health human
resources plan is critical to ensuring that the health care system is
able to meet the future needs of Canadians.
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA), the Canadian Association of
Internes and Residents (CAIR) and the Canadian Federation of Medical
Students (CFMS) see a number of contradictory trends, all of which
underscore the need for better planning so that Canada has the right
number, mix and distribution of health professionals.
New data indicates that the number of physicians in Canada has increased
faster than the size of the population. Yet many communities across the
country, particularly those in rural and remote areas, face shortages
of family doctors and specialists. In another apparent paradox, many
new specialists complete years of training only to face a lack of job
"Total numbers of physicians don't tell the whole story," says Dr. Anna
Reid, President of the Canadian Medical Association. "Whether we have
an adequate supply of doctors depends completely on the demand for
their services. We need better plans and strategies to meet changing
and growing patient demands."
Fiscal constraints are also inhibiting the hiring of physicians to the
point that the prospects for employment are a real concern in some
specialties. A recent survey by the CAIR found close to one-third of
resident physicians to be less than confident about their job
"We are seeing that residents in some specialties are having employment
challenges," said CAIR President Dr. Simon Moore. "Job prospects are a
growing concern for residents, but they should also be a concern for
policy makers. If we want the right health care providers to match our
future needs, we need a national response to health human resources
now. Patients depend on access to specialists in their communities."
One of the problems faced by medical students and residents is a lack of
information on the job prospects for the various specialties, said
Canadian Federation of Medical Students President Robin Clouston.
"This is not only about finding ways to match how we train physicians
and where they practise to meet the needs of patients," Clouston said.
"It also makes good economic sense to not waste the extensive
investment of time and money that go into physician training."
The CMA, CAIR and CFMS are working together to gather and share the most
up-to-date data on employment prospects and other information on
medical and surgical specialties to ensure that future physicians are
able to find work where patients need them most.
Reid noted that getting the right number and mix of doctors, as well as
of other health professionals such as nurses and physician assistants,
is a complex issue that requires all levels of government, medical
schools and national physician organizations to work together. The goal
would be to develop a framework that would ensure Canadians have
adequate health care services where they need them and that costly,
high quality medical training isn't squandered.
"There's no question that the planning work being undertaken by
associations representing doctors, residents and medical students must
be matched by a commitment from the federal, provincial and territorial
governments," Reid said.
SOURCE: CANADIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION
For further information:
Lucie Boileau, Senior Advisor, Communications and Public Outreach
Canadian Medical Association
Tel: 800-663-7336 / 613-731-8610 ext. 1266 Cell: 613-447-0866
Rita Mezzanotte, Communications Consultant
Canadian Association of Internes and Residents
Miriam Lermer, Vice-President Communications
Canadian Federation of Medical Students