OTTAWA, Oct. 26, 2012 /CNW/ - Some of Canada's most highly trained physicians and surgical specialists are unemployed after finishing long and gruelling medical education and training programs. In light of ongoing difficulties in finding jobs appropriate to their skills and training, and misunderstandings about this phenomenon, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada is leading a national study examining the complex causes underlying this situation and identifying solutions. To date, the findings give cause for concern while clarifying a number of misunderstandings.
"Following graduation from medical school, resident doctors spend further years in intensive, comprehensive specialty training to meet Canada's diverse health needs, yet planning has fallen short to integrate them into the medical workforce", said Dr. Andrew Padmos, FRCPC, chief executive officer of the Royal College.
"This is an unacceptable failure toward colleagues that give us just cause for renewing our call for a pan-Canadian human resources for health observatory. The absence of a pan-Canadian approach to health workforce data collection and analysis that helps inform health workforce planning nationwide has again resulted in squandered precious financial and human resources".
First reported in cardiac surgery, followed by neurosurgery and orthopedic surgery, the evidence suggests that some unemployed physicians or physicians are unable to practice to the full extent of their training. This trend is being seen in many other specialties. The Royal College's in-depth study is therefore examining why doctors are finding it difficult to secure employment in their field and the impact of this situation on physicians, the system and patients.
"To say we have an 'excess' of physicians or surgeons is misleading. Patients continue to face long wait for orthopedic surgeons and many other specialists", said Danielle Fréchette, MPA, co-principal investigator for the study. "We need to work together to understand the root causes to ensure that these valuable and expensively trained doctors find positions where they can deliver high-quality care that Canadian patients want and deserve".
To date, findings indicate that employment is an issue affecting a number doctors and residents across Canada. Employment difficulties are driving more physicians and surgeons into supplementary training, including clinical and research fellowships, to fill the gap. Our analysis has also suggested that hiring restraints in times of economic uncertainty, changing public policy priorities, evolving technologies and demographics may also play important roles in employment challenges of medical professionals. Complete findings from this phase of the study will be released this year.
Moving forward, a complete understanding of the magnitude and the ramifications of this problem requires stakeholders to work together. That is why the Royal College will convene early next year a national forum of residents, medical education and health care leaders, many of who are also looking at this phenomenon, to discuss physician solutions to unemployment and underemployment in Canada.
"It is in society's best interest to ensure that highly-trained, highly-professional physicians and surgeons find employment in locations where they are needed most", said Dr. Padmos.
As a national, non-profit organization, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada speaks for more than 44,000 medical and surgical specialists and resident physicians. The Royal College oversees the medical education of specialists and, as such, advocates for the best health and the best care for all Canadians.
SOURCE: Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
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