November 4, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 36  

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Low medical grad/residency spots ration a crisis: critics

By Laura Katsirdakis
Gazette Staff

What happens when a student is bright enough to make it to medical school, fortunate enough to have the funds to pay their way and then graduate without finding a residency placement? We have trained doctors who cannot practice medicine in Canada, that’s what.

“This is the worst ratio [of medical school graduates to residency placements] we’ve ever seen,” said Ellen Silver, a concerned medical student and vice-president of communications at the Canadian Federation of Medical Students.

“The government has increased spots in medical schools because of the doctor shortage, but they haven’t increased the number of spots in residency,” Silver explained. “We would call this a crisis,” she added.

“The people who lose out are the people who can’t get a doctor,” Silver said. She noted the insufficient number of residency spots affects not only the graduates but also the health care system itself.

“It is too close for comfort,” said Carol Herbert, dean of the faculty of medicine and dentistry, when asked about the ratio.

“We’re hoping to see movement from the Ministry of Health to increase the number of positions in provinces where there is a relative imbalance between the number of positions and the number of graduates,” Herbert said, noting there has not been an increase in residency positions to match the increase in enrollment in medical schools.

Deans of Canada’s medical schools want to ensure there are sufficient positions to find all Canadian graduates a match and also to provide some flexibility by having better than a one-to-one ratio.

This year, the expected number of medical school graduates is 596 and the number of post-graduate positions is 599, said Tanya Cholakov, spokesperson for Ontario’s Ministry of Health. In past years the Ontario government has funded 66 more positions than the number of graduates, she added.

“The numbers speak for themselves,” Cholakov said, when asked to respond to allegations the ratio of graduates to positions was sinking to a crisis level.

“The Ministry of Health’s priority is to ensure that there are sufficient post-graduate positions,” Cholakov explained.



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