Poor health system planning often to blame for unemployed docs

Royal College Staff
May 7, 2019 | Author: Royal College Staff

For some medical specialists, it feels like everything is working against them in their search for employment:

  • the job market is highly competitive,
  • too many late-career physicians aren’t ready (or willing) to retire,
  • hospitals/care centres don’t have funding for more resources, and
  • the job listings that exist are extremely difficult to access.

But are these individual hurdles actually symptoms of larger failings in the health care system? New data suggests that may be the case.

Employment Study report cover

Study highlights Canada’s shortcomings in workforce and health care planning

On May 1, 2019, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada released new findings from its employment study. This is the highly anticipated follow-up to their 2013 report that alerted the country to the employment challenges faced by many new specialists.

Since the Royal College began gathering employment data in 2011, between 14 and 19 per cent of new specialists have reported problems securing a job right after they have been certified. The latest study findings show that these challenges are in large part a by-product of shortcomings in workforce and health care planning.

As one recently certified otolaryngologist said,

“There are very few, if any, jobs in Otolaryngology at the present time. This is despite the fact that we graduate over 30 new otolaryngologists per year. The hospitals and potential employers currently have the upper hand as there are many applicants for few jobs.”

While workforce planning is currently focused on aligning physician supply with the health care needs of society, it is missing a number of important elements. These include, for example, the link between practice resources (including personnel and infrastructure) and employability. Other factors also come into play when looking at employment patterns, like family obligations and access to/ transparency of job postings.

Read more findings in the Royal College Employment Study

Note: The title of this article has been amended to enhance clarity (May 9)

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Avatar Ioana Bratu | May 9, 2019
New US study predicts there will be a major shortage of generalists and specialists for 2032 ... Canadian waitlists are getting longer ... Are there really too many physicians in Canada? Are the findings of unemployed physicians in Canada a symptom of a chronic illness with our healthcare delivery/planning?
Avatar Sherif Shams | May 9, 2019
Cut down on medical school admissions , otherwise Docs. will be like lawyers !!
Avatar Rosemary Lubynski | May 9, 2019
The hospital in Sarnia that I work in has been trying to recruit 2 ENT surgeons with no success. Possibly at least some of the problem is no jobs in the "right" areas.
Avatar Harry Hogan | May 9, 2019
Central planning is ultimately a fool's errand. Physician training should operate on free market principles.
Avatar Frank Finkelstein | May 9, 2019
If you have to wait a month or 6 months for a procedure, or a month for an appointment, by whose standards are we overdoctored?
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