Unemployment spiralling among new specialist physicians, study says

Oct 10, 2013 | News

By Kiah Welsh

report released Thursday by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons finds a growing number of newly certified specialists cannot find work across Canada, despite waiting times for many patients.

The study reports specialized areas such as neurosurgery, cardiac surgery, plastic surgery and orthopedic surgery are lacking employment for physicians.

The report suggests one of the factors contributing to unemployment is that more physicians are competing for fewer resources.

A photo of Toronto General Hospital. (Courtesy of wikimedia)

“While the health care needs of patients increase and the number of physicians and surgeons continue to grow, hospital funding growth continues to slow,” said the college.

The report adds that cost cutting measures, such as reduced operating room time are complicating this situation even further.

It also says “the way in which the health care system is organized contributes to under and unemployment of new medical and surgical specialists.”

Gillian Howards, public affairs and communications vice-president for the University Health Network, said she thinks the number of specialized doctors who are unemployed is growing because new graduates aren’t flexible with where they would want to practice.

“There are many small towns in northern Ontario or across the country where they are desperately looking for physicians but not everyone wants to live in a small town or rural town,” said Howards.

“However, if the job market is the way it is — and people want to practice — they may have to do that,” Howards said, pointing to a gap between what is needed and what people are being trained for.

“The practice of healthcare is changing a lot. Fifteen to 20 years ago there used to be very long surgeries for particular procedures,” said Howards.

“It takes a long time to train somebody, so that be might part of it.”

The report took two years to compile, consisting of 50 in-depth interviews.