Yet a national shortage of pathologists, resulting in heavy caseloads, is often blamed for the slew of scandals that have cropped up in recent years over mistakes in cancer diagnoses and child-death investigations. In another province, a health minister actually told a meeting of student doctors last year when you finish your training, dont expect there to be a job, said Mr. MacLean. It is expected that most of the jobless doctors will get work eventually, but the delay could mean a year or two of not applying highly-sophisticated abilities, though numerous studies have shown that the competency of surgeons, especially, improves as they perform more of a particular procedure. If youre not practising once youve been taught, your skills get a little rusty, said Dr. Geoff Johnston, an orthopedic surgeon in Saskatoon and a spokesman for his specialtys national association. Its important that one can promptly employ these people. While the situation varies from region to region and specialty to specialty, there is relatively little debate that Canada needs more doctors. In 2008, it ranked 26th of 32 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries on that front, with 2.3 physicians per 1,000 population, compared to the average of 3.2, and 2.4 in the U.S. In response to outcry over long wait lists, provinces have in recent years significantly boosted medical school enrollment and the number of on-the-job training positions: two-year family-medicine residencies and five-year residencies in a specialty. Once trained, family doctors and many other primary-care physicians, like pediatricians or psychiatrists, can simply hang out a shingle and start billing for their services. Surgeons and others who require expensive infrastructure like operating rooms to do their jobs, are often hired by hospitals or health regions.
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