Poor health system planning often to blame for unemployed docs
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.
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.
Note: The title of this article has been amended to enhance clarity (May 9)