Physician Shortage Requires Collaborative National Institute Immediately

    WINNIPEG, Sept. 28 /CNW Telbec/ - At its annual meeting this week, the
Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) issued a call for a
pan-Canadian health human resources institute to address the critical shortage
of physicians in Canada. The Royal College pledged to work in collaboration
with federal/provincial/territorial governments, key stakeholders and
institutions to make this happen.
    Of the 63,819 physicians in Canada, specialists represent 48.6 per cent
and family physicians represent 51.4 per cent. Thirty-eight per cent of
medical specialists are over the age of 55, and their retirement numbers have
doubled from 2004.
    "Physicians are challenged in meeting clinical demands because of lack of
resources, including shortages of other health care professionals.
Additionally, Canada continues to under-produce the number of physicians it
needs. Our reliance on international medical graduates raises questions about
the ethics of stripping other countries of valuable health human resources to
solve our physician shortage," said Dr. Andrew Padmos, CEO of the RCPSC.
    Although not every medical specialty faces a critical shortage in all
regions of Canada, specialties of most concern include internal medicine,
psychiatry, general surgery, ophthalmology, and pathology. In rural, remote
and northern communities, access to quality care by specialists is an ongoing
    "Planning for the appropriate number of medical specialists, and other
health professions, is now done in silos. This approach is a major barrier to
addressing the gap this country faces in adequate number of health care
professionals," said Dr. Louise Samson, President of the RCPSC. "We need
viable solutions such as recruitment and retention strategies. We need to
increase our production of physicians and work smarter in inter-professional
teams to achieve efficiencies in the delivery of medical services."
    The RCPSC is encouraged, however, that a 30-year trend known as the
'medical brain drain' to the United States appears to be reversing since 2004
with a net gain of 61 physicians moving back to Canada in 2005. This trend may
be short lived; however, as the United States itself is facing a critical
shortage of physicians in the near future.


    The RCPSC Statement on Appropriate Physician Resources for Canada Toward
Achieving Responsible Self-sufficiency

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