Your Turn: A 10-point Marshall plan to right the doctor shortage

More than four million Canadians do not have a family doctor. Currently, Canada produces 2,300 new doctors a year but we need about 3,200 a year. How can we find 900 more doctors annually?

Canada has failed to use the services of the thousands of international medical graduates (IMGs) in Canada who are unable to practise because they can’t get a licence. There are also an estimated 1,500 Canadian citizens studying at medical schools abroad.

I propose a 10-point mini-Marshall plan:

1. A medical manpower czar should be appointed by the federal government. He should have a sufficient budget and manpower to undertake the task of making Canada self-sufficient in medical manpower.

2. The czar should create a registry of all IMGs who are in Canada but have no licence to practise. This can be done via the media.

3. The czar should conduct a survey of these graduates to find out what each one of them requires to be fully licensed.

4. From the responses, the czar should create conditions and provide financial help (in conjunction with teaching institutions, hospitals, licensing bodies and provincial governments) to assist these overseas-trained physicians to be fully licensed in one year.

5. Those who fail to get a licence should get one more try. If they fail again, they should be told to pursue other careers.

6. Those who accept government help should promise to work in an underserviced area for two years before they move elsewhere.

7. The czar should create a registry of Canadian medical students overseas. Again, the media can help get the word out.

8. The czar should survey these students to find out how many of them want to return to Canada to do their residency and practise here.

9. The czar should constantly stay in touch with these students and encourage them to pass LMCC (Licentiate of the Medical Council of Canada) when they prepare for the USMLE (U.S. Medical Licensing Examination). Canadian licensing bodies should accept USMLE as equivalent to the LMCC

10. The czar should offer them financial incentives to come back to Canada via signing bonuses. This can be done in conjunction with hospitals and provincial governments.

IMGs and Canadians studying abroad did not cost the Canadian taxpayer a single penny to train. So what is wrong with investing some money in them to absorb them into our system? That is surely better than spending thousands of dollars on Canadians who obtain their MD in Canada and then move to the U.S.

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One Reply to “Your Turn: A 10-point Marshall plan to right the doctor shortage”

  1. Noorali,

    I’ve thought about this.

    1. We need fitter and healthier people. Too many people are suffering from the personally-generated metabolic, musculo-skeletal and psychological dysunctions. These are not the sorts of things that medical practitioners are not good at dealing with. In fact it’s very hard to solve a fitness problem with a medical solution.

    More and more doctors are providing junk medications that mask the symptoms rather than encouraging their customers to go out and get themselves fit and healthy.

    The medical industry has perverted the course of health, fitness and wellbeing through it’s association with Big Pharma. They’ve lost the plot. The damage is too great. We need less of them, not more. We should be discouraging people from going to them for non-medical advice and procedures.

    That, of course means creating a better deliniation between what’s medical and what’s not.

    2. More people should be going to nurses for the sorts of things that are easy to fix up.

    3. More and more people should be going to fitness practitioners for advice and programs to overcome the personally generated dysfunctions. They’ll measure how fit people are, provide them with a program – and supervise it. Doctors are not good at doing that.

    4. More people should be going to naturopaths for advice about healthy eating.

    5. Too many people are going to doctors when they feel shidhouse. It should be straight off to a counsellor for a chat, not the chemist for a pill. They need exercise. A year’s supply o0f vigorous aerobic activity outperforms a year’s supply of Prozac.

    In short these professions should be elbowing themselves into the front line of primary health care. It’s cheaper and the advice better because these people are specialists in their own field.

    The medical industry has priced itself out of the field and only survives due to masssive protection. Like all protected industries it has become bloated, inefficient and expensive. More and more people can’t afford to go and see a doctor.

    More and more people will travel to other countries for medical procedures – especially having their teeth attended to. This is my intention. I can’t afford $18,000 for four crowns.

    The medical model does not serve a sedentary society well. It’s poorly equipped to keep people fit and healthy – and it’s a big ask expecting to stay healthy without keeping yourself fit.

    On the other hand it is very good at treating medical complaints.

    Regards and best wishes

    John Miller

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