Friday December 5, 2008
Brian goes back to School
We've all heard the shocking statistic: some four million Canadians are without a family doctor.
So we're desperate, and yet spots in medical schools are tight. Only about one in ten applicants get in the door.
The rest are left to pursue other careers or go to medical school in other countries. But when they want to come home to practice, they face the same hoops as foreign students when trying to get the rare residency spots.
Monday on White Coat, Black Art, Brian goes to Ireland and sits down with two Canadian medical students who had to leave to get into school....and now are laden with heavy debt and having a hard time coming home. In fact, they probably won't come home, because it's too hard. Which means two less doctors for Canada.
Hannah Smith and Geoffrey Stevens, Canadians at medical school in Ireland.
And because spots in medical schools are so tight, it's important to pick the applicants with the greatest potential to be good doctors. It's a bit of science, and a lot of art. We talk to a former dean of the McGill Medical School to find out what they're looking for in medical school applicants, and what applicants can expect in the vetting process.
Tune in Monday at 11:30 am (noon in Newfoundland) or again Saturaday afternoon at 4:30 (5 pm in Newfoundland).
Previous Comments (16)
My lovely family doctor (who shall remain nameless)attended the Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons and she really enjoyed Dublin... especially the sticky buns at Bewleys Cafe, Grafton Street.
Ironically, one of my nieces & her husband both graduated from "Surgeons" and are now practicing in London, England to gain more experience & fervently hoping to return to Dublin one day.
I look forward to this episode. I know both Hannah and Geoffrey, pictured above, as exceptional graduates from my medical school, Royal College of Surgeons Ireland. I am currently a final year student applying to Canada for one of four residency positions designated for International Medical Graduates applying for Radiology...will keep you posted...Jessica, December 7, 2008 6:50 PM
I am the Mayor of the Town of The Pas. In January myself and other representatives from the local hospital travelled to Ireland. The purpose of our trip was to recruit physicians to work in our town. We were shocked by what we learned and how difficult it is for these Canadians to come back home and work. In my opinion this is nothing short of a national tragedy and if the powers that be were serious about relieving the physician shortage then these doctors would be welcomed.Herb Jaques, December 7, 2008 9:41 PM
About the oversea's graduate,my son is one of them and he is now paracticing in small town south east of Ontario, I understand that they want to go to where ever they,but think about it if everyone goes to big cities, how about small town,what they can do if they need a doctor, I told you this matter since I know most of the those around us just settled in Toronto, Ottawa or other larger cities and no one actually cares about small town, I think this is really good Ontario Government did,although may be my own son doesnot like it that much.
Keep up your good work,
Wrt the show on Canadian students in Irish medical programmes, I a more than a little surprised that Dr. Goldman did not mention the Canadian Forces as a way in which to complete a medical education debt free!
Very interesting topic on Canadians studying medicine in Ireland. Our son is in his fourth year of medicine at UCD IN DUBLIN.
He graduated with a 92 average at Queen's University in Biosciences. He was not able to get accepted into a Medical School in Canada. He had a friend that got accepted at UCD Dublin. So he decided to apply at UCD and got accepted.
He is doing very well at UCD!
He is in the top 10 in his class
He would like to do his residency in Ontario. He faces some huge obstacles in getting into Ontario even though he is a Canadian citizen! Also if you are an Irish citizen you don't have to pay to get educated as a doctor. Students fro, foreign countries assist, through their University tuition and costs, Irish students to get a free education.
Why does a Canadian student have to go out of the country to get a medical degree when
Canada has a shortage of doctors??
Today in the Globe and Mail there were boasts about an agreement to facilitate the trade and mobility of professionals in Canada. The only person lodging exceptions was the head of the CMA. Why did the good doctor not ask the head of the CMA to defend the indefensible as to why Canadian doctors trained in reputable schools in credible countries? Oh and who was the unnamed bureaucrat in the mid /90s who decided that reducing med school entry was a way to reduce cost to health care?
My offspring are leaving the country for med training and given the mind set around here I cannot see why he will return which hurts.
I have lived in places where I did not have confidence in the medical facilities and therefore have some sympathy for the CMA but there lack of imagination on other fronts suggests that the biggest shortage here is the lack of imagination in the CMA bureaucracy.
I bet these two have far better potential to become great doctors than half the students I see getting into medical school. The majority of them are so socially awkward they can't even look a person in the eye. But they strategically take easy courses during university and are lucky enough to not have to work for a summer such that they can focus on studying and ace the MCAT. I wish we could find out how many of those accepted had some strings pulled. With the corruption I've witnessed, I'm sure the stats would be shocking. Canada not only does not have enough doctors, we won't even have good ones if trends continue.AStew, December 8, 2008 7:08 PM
Will someone please perform an audit on the number of Canadians deciding to remain in Australia after going to medical school here?
I am currently locuming around Australia, and encounter a Canadian in practically every hospital, both urban and rural, that has decided not to go back.
I would not be surprised if they numbered in the high hundreds.
What a loss for Canada.
To update what is said on the podcast, there are now more than 400 canadians studying at medical schools around Ireland, with about 100 of us graduating each year. As Mr.Schmidt commented above, many of us had very good GPAs as well as a "well-rounded" application but there are simply not enough medical school places in Canada. Having paid for our own medical eduction here in Ireland, most of us would love to return to Canada for residency given the opportunity. However, the reality is that most of us will either stay in Ireland or move to the States due to the restrictions that Canada puts on international medical graduates at the moment. I think Canada is losing out on a potential solution to the doctor shortage by turning down these canadian-born, well-trained doctors who, once trained in the USA or Europe, are very unlikely to return to Canada.irishstudent, December 9, 2008 6:30 AM
I was lucky enough to attend Trinity College Dublin med school and received an excellent medical education as well as experience of living abroad. I was the only Canadian in my class graduating in 1992. Yes, I had to obtain residency in Michigan(3 years vs 2 years for Family practice) I then worked in Norway House Manitoba and several remote communities in BC. It was a quagmire of exams and hoops to finally obtain the right to work in my own country.
If no spots are available at home, motivated students will look abroad. These intrepid committed people should be rewarded not penalized for their dedication.Shawn O'Donnell, December 9, 2008 12:17 PM
Thank you for your program. I am one of many of Canadian doctors who has trained in and decided to remain in Australia permanently.
Excellent broad-based medical specialty training programs which often run for 2-3 years longer than in Canada/US; choice of specialty; choice of place of residence; decent salaries while in training; sane and safe working hours; an overt recognition of the need for a balanced life; a belief that one's medical skills and competency is far more important than the postal code of the place where they happened to learn those skills; and a pragmatic, patient-centered health system which largely works(granted there are some glaring problems down here as well) are all incentives to remain in Australia.
In Australia, I work along side doctors of many nationalities (in my area of the hospital [emergency/critical care] we have doctors from Australia, New Zealand, India, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Holland, Czech, Iran, Iraq, Singapore, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya) and it is usually a truly a fantastic experience for staff and patients alike. They have all met the standards set by the Australian Medical Council and are all solid medical practitioners who will continue to serve the Australian population well for many years to come.
Canada for many years has chosen to isolate itself from the global medical community much to its detriment. Canada now sadly finds itself with a rather irrational fear of International Medical Graduates while at the same time finds that it is behind many developed - and even some developing nations - in many areas of health (see recent OECD,WHO and UNICEF health rankings for confirmation of this statement).
Given the numerous barriers for IMGs (both Canadian and non-Canadian) to work in Canada, it is encouraging to see Dr. Currie and other Canadian doctors coming overseas to Australia and other nations to gain experience which will hopefully one day begin to integrate Canada into the global medical community. Only through the Canadian medical community learning about the outside world will Canada truly be able to allow entry of IMGs into Canada without the current level of fear and the subsequent current dracionian restrictions. I encourage more Canadian doctors to come to Australia (or go elsewhere) for a year or two to help bring more perspective into the Canada IMG debate.
For the record: The main Australian post-graduate medical programs (Flinders, U of Queensland, U of Syd, U of Melb) combined currently graduate around 70-80 Canadians annually, the majority of whom now remain in Australia. Prior to 2005, most IMG graduates went to the US or Europe. Canadian students have routinely been in the top 25% of graduates from their respective medical programs in Australia. For what its worth, my undergraduate GPA was 3.7, MCAT score 39 and I finished in the top 15% of my medical program.
Current conservative estimates of Canadian-citizens who are fully-registered doctors in working in Australia are in the 200-300 range. Somewhere in the 60-70 range are currently completing the provisional registration year (i.e. they are in their intern year). We will have 2 Canadian-born, Australian-trained interns commencing at my small regional Australian hospital in January 2009.CD, December 11, 2008 7:44 AM
Just like many of the previous posters, I am also a Canadian student now studying medicine in Ireland. As much as I am loving my studies and my life in Ireland, I would have much rather stayed in Canada for medical school.
I worked very hard during my undergraduate and graduate studies in Canada and got very good marks in school and in my MCAT. However, because I have moved around to different countries while growing up (due to my parents' work), I was not considered an in-province student in any of the provinces when I applied to medical school 2 years ago. This means that I had to compete for the very few out-of-province positions in all of the Canadian medical schools, except for University of Toronto, which does not take into account the geographic origin of their applicants.
I was very disappointed and frustrated that despite being Canadian, paying Canadian taxes, and having Canadian parents that also pay taxes in Canada, I was literally considered a stranger in my own country.
I applied as an in-province applicant to the medical school in what I considered to be my "home province"...only to receive a letter several weeks later from that medical school informing me that I do not meet their criteria for being an in-province applicant (I won't name the province or the medical school). I do, however, have a driver's license and a health card issued by that province. What's more, the person who wrote that letter questioned my "loyalty" to that province based on where I have lived in my childhood.
Although I can see why that particular admissions officer feel that I might not be a "loyal" enough resident of the province, I also just want to point out that as a child, it wasn't my own choice to move around so much. I ended up living in all the places that I did because of my parents' work - not because I chose to do so as a 6-year-old or a 10-year-old. My parents did the best that they knew how given their work and financial situation. I've always felt a very strong connection with that particular province (this is the province where I have lived the longest and where my family has a permanentt home since 1987), and I am proud to call myself a Canadian and a proud resident of that province. I guess none of that matters in the eyes of the medical school.
I love Canada and I would very much hope to return one day for my post-graduate medical training and to hopefully be able to serve my country with my medical skills. At the same time, however, the extra obstacles that Canadian students studying abroad have to face with regards to securing a residency position in Canada, the incredible debt that I now find myself in, and the very unfriendly and unwelcoming attitude of some of the administrators working in the medical system have made me seriously questioned whether or not practicing in Canada in the future would be a realistic option for me.
I have several more years to go. All the Canadians in my class and I are hoping that the system will improve by the time we apply for post-graduate training in Canada.IrishMedicalStudent, December 15, 2008 9:42 AM
I'm surprised by the comments by IrishMedicalStudent above - gaining "in province" status is not really that difficult. Dalhousie medical school, for example, requires only a year of continuous residence in one of the Maritime provinces prior to submitting an application.
For all the talk about the difficulty of obtaining a residency position as an IMG, there are certainly many of them around (at least in Halifax). However, unless residency spaces are increased so that there are enough both for prospective IMGs *and* Canadian-trained students, I do not see an easy solution to this problem.
To the poster suggesting that the majority of Canadian medical students are "socially awkward" and the beneficiaries of a "corrupt" system, I'd offer that bitterness is no substitute for a sound argument.JGMed, December 15, 2008 10:19 PM
As an immigrant to Canada, I truely understand why Candian medical system is so fear of IMG.
It is all about Canada. Doctors in canada see patient and get money from their own goverment.
they have limits set by government.
the market for doctors already full since government have limited fund to feed own doctors.
I dont see any change in the future.cdcd, February 5, 2009 11:24 PM
"To the poster suggesting that the majority of Canadian medical students are "socially awkward" and the beneficiaries of a "corrupt" system, I'd offer that bitterness is no substitute for a sound argument."
I know this response is very late, but for what it's worth to any reader out there...I couldn't agree more with the above statement.
Time and time again, you will hear of people will outstanding grades/MCAT scores who for some God-forsaken reason could not get admission into one of Canada's medical schools.
It is NOT impossible. Simply look at the stats of incoming students and you will quickly realize that if you have a mid-80's average with a 31+MCAT score, good extracurriculars, good LORs, and can genuinely display a reason to study medicine...you will definitely get in somewhere.
I don't believe anyone who says that they had a "90's average" and a "great MCAT score" and could not get in. Your statement of intent, your letters of reference, and/or your interview skills must have been terribly poor to have not received admission.
My two older brothers and myself have gone through the Canadian medical school system and we are well aware of what it takes.
I can sum it all up with this:
WORK HARD OR YOU WON'T GET IN.Tom Peterson, June 21, 2009 3:12 PM