Shortage of Physicians In Canada

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In the past decade, Canada’s population has grown from 5,301,000 in 1900 to over 34,030,589 in 2011, driven mainly by immigration (Central Intelligence Agency, 2011). By 2056 it is expected, one in four Canadians will be 65 years or older, compared to 13 per cent currently. This will put a huge strain on the country’s health care system (Macleans, 2008 p.2). The future of Canada’s health care system is at great risk due to its escalating and aging population. This is triggering a shortage of physicians, particularly anesthesiologists, in some provinces of Canada (Canadian Medicine Journal, 2007). Anesthesiologists are specialist physicians who provide critical care to patients in a number of health programs: operative anesthesia for patients in all surgical subspecialties, acute pain management, procedural anesthesia, obstetrical care, and high-risk medical management, chronic pain management, resuscitation, advanced airway management, and critical care (Intermountain Healthcare, 2011). The current shortage of anesthesiologists is highly impacting access to care in each of these areas. Due to the lack of foresight in government policies, the shortage of anesthesiologists in Canada is increasing and becoming more critical. The Canadian government has failed to train, hire, and retain enough anesthesiologists/assistants for the needs of Canada’s rising population. The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) estimates it would take 26,000 more physicians, presently, in order to bring Canada up to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average (Macleans, 2008 p.2).

The Canadian health care system promises universality, portability, and accessibility; unfortunately, it faces political challenges of meeting pub...

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...ortant role in this shortage because if they reconstruct and formulate policies to accept and graduate more students specializing in anesthesiology, it will significantly reduce the shortfall of anesthesiologists. Lastly, the Canadian government needs to recruit more and retain enough anesthesiologists to meet the needs of its population. Instead of the government ignoring the issue, it should see this as an opportunity to dedicate its efforts to construct a good health care system which will result in healthier Canadians. This will not take only the efforts of the government but also the efforts of hospitals, maternity care providers, healthcare and professional liability insurers, consumers, and policymakers. With the use of future-planning in government policies it will mitigate this short-fall of anesthesiologists and prevent it from occurring in the long-run.
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