Unemployed Docs: You don’t want fries with that

Much has been made of potential doctor shortages resulting from the no-holds barred death match between the Ontario Medical Association and Health Minister Deb Matthews.

It is notable that last year Dr. Sacha Bhatia, the former health advisor to Premier Dalton McGuinty, wrote an essay published on longwoods.com last year that discussed the problems young physicians will soon have finding work.

Bhatia notes a Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada study that reports graduates in 13 specialities in Canada were having difficulty finding jobs, and another study published in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery that found 34 per cent of cardiac surgery graduates were underemployed.

“There are several factors affecting demand for physicians,” writes Bhatia. “Hospital budget constraints mean less capacity for physicians to operate in. Technology changes, expanded scopes of practice of non-physician specialties, and improvements in efficiency also mean fewer physicians are required to do the same volume of work.”

Bhatia states that these efficiencies should be offset by increased demand resulting from an aging medically complex population.

This is not the first time we have heard this. Dr. Michael Rachlis has pointed out that we are graduating new doctors faster than the population is growing. You don’t have to be a health care planner to figure out the eventual consequences.

With the government squeezing health care along with most other public services, the docs may be just one more casualty in the hangover from the 2008 economic slump – the one created by a reckless international financial industry, not an excess of health care spending.

Here at Diablogue we like to connect the dots on policy initiatives. Here’s one you may have not thought about: Could this be behind the changes the Harper government is making to the rules around employment insurance?

The Harperites would like those collecting EI to be less picky about their job prospects, be willing to commute further for less money.

“This is going to impact everyone because what we want to do is make sure that the McDonald’s of the world aren’t having to bring in temporary foreign workers to do jobs the Canadians who are on EI have the skills to do,” Human Resources Minister Diane Finley told the Toronto Star on Thursday.

Skills? You mean those teenagers behind the counter at our favorite fast food restaurant have skills? Wasn’t the whole point of fast food industry to de-skill the workforce using assembly line processes?

Perhaps Finley really is talking about the docs.

It would be a great government initiative to have docs behind the McDonald’s counter, especially cardiac care doctors, to tell you that you don’t want fries with that.

The public has been clamoring for more preventative care. Could this really be the answer?

With the average public cost of training a cardiac care specialist running at about $830,000, there may be some who question whether this is a good use of resources. And not all countries necessarily view McDonald’s as the career path of choice for their highly skilled professionals. Some docs may leave, wanting to actually work at something they are trained to do.

When you look at a McDonald’s logo, what letters stand out? M.D. It all makes sense now.

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One response to “Unemployed Docs: You don’t want fries with that

  1. Elizabeth Hemsley

    We are seniors and live in Caledonia, Ont. Our Family doctor is an excellent doctor, but he is covering his practice AND the ER in Hagersville — NO ONE should have to work those hours! We NEED MORE doctors — My husband has an appointment today and we can’t even reach them by phone to cancel it — and he just doesn’t feel well enough to go and SIT IN THE WAITING ROOM FOR 3 HOURS or the other option is to go to the ER and sit there for another ?????? hours. All of Caledonia needs HELP !

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