NPS Identifies Urgent Need for a Canadian Physician Workforce Strategy

    Sustainable Physician Workforce Required to Meet Needs of Aging Canadian

    OTTAWA, Jan. 9 /CNW Telbec/ - Data released today from the 2007 National
Physician Survey (NPS) highlight the need for governments to address the
issues undermining patients' access to health care services, particularly the
impact of health workforce shortages on timely access to care.
    The NPS is Canada's largest census survey of physicians and
physicians-in-training. It is conducted jointly by The College of Family
Physicians of Canada (CFPC), the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and The
Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC). The data provide
meaningful information on attitudes among the country's present and future
doctors toward a wide range of critical issues. When compared with the 2004
survey, the 2007 NPS provides an in-depth look at how physicians work, the
impediments they face in providing care to their patients, and the factors
that are shaping the future educational and career intentions of medical
students and residents.
    Survey results confirm that timely access to health care remains a
serious challenge for Canadians. "Despite government investments to achieve
reduced wait times in priority areas such as cancer treatment, heart
procedures, diagnostic imaging, joint replacements, and sight restoration, the
survey reveals that progress has been quite uneven." says Dr. Louise Samson,
President of The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
"Physicians also reported that access in other key areas such as emergency
services and hospital in-patient care on an urgent basis is poor. Ratings for
these services have worsened since 2004 when the NPS was first conducted."
    NPS 2007 indicates that 75% of physicians are generally satisfied with
their professional lives yet remain frustrated by barriers to their providing
patient care, such as system funding, availability of personnel, paperwork and
bureaucracy. Increasing complexity of patient caseloads (80%); management of
patients with chronic diseases/conditions (73%); increasing patient
expectations (70%); and the aging population (69% among all physicians, 80%
among family physicians) were cited as key factors increasing the demand for
physicians' time.
    "Despite the challenges in health care revealed by the survey results,
over 80 per cent (84%) of physicians confirmed they are either somewhat or
very satisfied with their relationships with patients," states Dr. Ruth
Wilson, President of The College of Family Physicians of Canada. "More
physicians are working collaboratively in formal and informal practice
arrangements and using technology effectively in an effort to improve the care
of their patients."
    Ninety-three per cent of physicians who are involved in
inter-professional care state that these working relationships improve the
care their patients receive. Similarly, more doctors (26%) are now using
electronic records to enter and retrieve clinical patient notes. Seventeen per
cent maintain practice websites and many are taking advantage of electronic
communications to more effectively consult with and about their patients.
    The NPS 2007 also identifies significant changing patterns of physician
practice. The baby boom generation is starting to retire, which equates to
over 4,000 physicians who plan to stop practicing over the next two years. Of
new physicians under 35 years of age replacing the baby boomers, 55% are
female. And typically, young doctors - male and female - are seeking a
different balance in their work and personal lives than previous generations.
    "Changing practice patterns are affecting physician resources, and this
needs to be factored into future health care resource planning," says CMA
President, Dr. Brian Day. "The new NPS data is a valuable resource to
governments and health authorities in the development of strategies to address
the education, training, recruitment and retention of physicians to best meet
the health care needs of Canadians."
    For more information and to see the NPS 2004 data and highlights of the
NPS 2007 results, please go to

    In the months to come, more NPS research will be released according to
provincial/territorial and specialist physician analysis as well as medical
resident and medical student results.

    The NPS has been made possible through the financial contributions of the
Canadian Medical Association, The College of Family Physicians of Canada, The
Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, the Canadian Institute for
Health Information, and Health Canada.

    View backgrounder at:

    (Aussi disponible en français)

For further information:

For further information: To request interviews: Bernard Gauthier, Delta
Media, 1-888-473-3582,; Cristiane Doherty, Delta Media,
1-888-473-3582,; Jayne Johnston, The College of Family
Physicians of Canada, 1-800-387-6197 ext. 303, (905) 629-0900 ext. 303,; Karen McCarthy, The Royal College of Physicians and
Surgeons of Canada, 1-800-668-3740 ext. 178, (613) 730-8177 ext. 178, Cell.:
(613) 668-6465,; Lucie Boileau, Canadian Medical
Association, 1-800-663-7336 ext. 1266, (613) 731-8610 ext. 1266,

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