Low medical grad/residency spots ration a crisis: critics
By Laura Katsirdakis
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
“The Ministry of Health’s priority is to ensure that there are sufficient
post-graduate positions,” Cholakov explained.