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Doctor shortage to worsen, conference told
Saturday, September 29, 2007
CBC News

Canada will face a worsening shortage of doctors over the next decade unless governments put more resources into medical schools, physicians said at a national conference Friday.

Dr. Andrew Padmos, CEO of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, said the shortage is the biggest issue affecting health care today and the numbers won't improve unless governments expand medical school enrolment.

On a per-capita basis, Canada trains half as many doctors as Britain, Padmos said at the college's annual meeting in Winnipeg.

Dr. Derek Puddester, a psychiatrist and researcher at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine, said the difference in work practices between older and younger generations of doctors is also cause for concern.

He said increasing career and personal pressures on "baby boomer" physicians will exacerbate the shortage of medical professionals in Canada.

Health Canada estimates that by 2010, Canada will be short 5,800 physicians. However, Puddester said new physicians tend to work fewer hours than established doctors, a productivity difference that could translate into a real shortage of 10,400 physicians.

Older doctors can't continue 'self-sacrificing' pace
"Boomer physicians are frequently responsible for both their children and parents, and are feeling the effects of aging bodies," he said. "They also work extremely hard, often at a pace that is self-sacrificing ? it simply isn't sustainable forever.

"At the same time, younger physicians are demanding greater life-work balance and balk at working the long hours common amongst their older colleagues.

"This is a significant challenge for those who lead and fund health services, and translates into difficulty with timely access to care for patients." Puddester said.

He said while younger physicians may have a different perspective on work-life balance than older ones, they are more likely to take a holistic approach and are adept at working in teams. They're also more committed to protecting time with their families, friends, and selves.
 

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