Canadian Health Care: Physician Shortage

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Health Care: Physician Shortage in Canada
Hailey Cheema
Heritage Park Secondary School
English 11

“Studies state 4.4 million Canadians do not have a family doctor; 800,000 of those do not have a place to go for regular medical care” (Picard, 2012, para.5). Canadian physician shortage is an ongoing and serious issue across the country. Canada remains to have one of the longest waiting lists, supply of doctors, and low levels of medical advancements (Hurtig, 2008). Government restrictions, the Canadian health care system, and medical schools are all primary factors of physician shortage in Canada.

Government restrictions on qualifying foreign doctors, medical school requirements, and MD student programs have become a rising issue. Canadian government lacks to establish programs to integrate foreign doctors into our health care system. Foreign trained doctors ranging from India, Italy, Pakistan, China, France, and Germany are denied a physician license in Canada. The government fails to neither assess nor organize training programs for these physicians; able to assist in health care shortages across the country (Esmail, 2011). Government restrictions have denied residency and ‘license to practice’ of international trained physicians for lengthy periods up to 10+ years (National Film Board of Canada, 2012). Unfortunately this group of physicians are forced to work minimum wage and degraded jobs, although acquiring all requirements and degrees to perform in Canada. The government of Canada has raised not only tuition/student fees but requirements of MD school in Canada. Issues arise when instead, international MD schools accept admission of Canadian medical students; doctors whom should practice/aid in our country are forced outwards. Canadian students whom have

studied abroad, attempting to return and acquire residency in Canada are rejected for lengthy periods; in direct correlation to international trained doctors (Cohen, 2010). The Canadian government fails to acknowledge “Unemployment and underemployment of new medical graduates is a growing problem; 1 in 6 newly trained specialists cannot find work in Canada” (Hortig, 2008, pg. 2-3).

Canadian health care system is depleting and losing recognition for the lack of practicing physicians. In recent studies “27% of Canadians were able to see a physician the same day they needed one; remaining 73% were either sent away for reaching maximum patient occupancy or unable to seek out a doctor” (Lunau & Gulli, 2010, para. 4). Physicians of the previous generation currently carry a much larger work load and service more hours than young doctors today. “Aging and retiring physicians provide more service per patient than workforce replacing them will” (Esmail, 2011, para. 3). Canada perceived as a highly recommended health care system, is unable to assist in proving health care attention for a majority of the countries population. Picard (2012) found that 30% of Canadian population lives in rural or remote areas and only 17% of physicians practice in these areas. The ratio of doctors to people is dropping drastically in not only rural and remote areas but over the country. Physician shortage in Canada is continuing to worsen and become a rising issue (refer to Figure 1)

In 2010, 38% of Canadian physicians were aged 55 years+. This suggests Canadians will experience an increase in physician retirement at the same rate in which health care demand rises with age. Physician shortage will continue to worsen as new physicians entering work field are unaware of demanded hours and work load required in years to come. (Esmail, 2011, para. 5)

52% of practicing physicians below the age of 35 are women (Lunau & Gulli, 2010). As women continue to pursue careers in health care and become the majority of physicians according to gender, issues arise. Women tend to provide few services, work less hours per week, and...
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