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EDITORIAL – Eby’s new plan for getting more doctors a drop in the bucket but…

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An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

WHENEVER THE DOCTOR SHORTAGE comes up for discussion, the issue of foreign-trained doctors usually comes up.

Why, people ask, are so many doctors who come from other countries unable to find work here? The answer is usually that it’s complicated, that they have to undergo a lengthy process of accreditation that many or most of them simply aren’t able to endure.

Those who do succeed sometimes wait for years. Stories of fully trained immigrating GPs driving cab or pushing a broom or doing some other line of work are common.

Well, the provincial government has a new initiative to bring internationally trained doctors into the healthcare system here.

Premier David Eby announced yesterday — he seems to have taken a liking to Sunday announcements — an expansion to what’s called the Practice Ready Assessment Program that will triple the number of available seats to 96 by March 2024.

That’s a drop in the bucket as the doctor shortage goes. Assuming an average GP has 2,500 patients, Kamloops needs at least 16 more family doctors. In B.C., that number would be around 400.

But the strategy also calls for the removal of barriers to U.S. doctors working here plus creation of a new associate physician class of licence. That would allow some internationally educated physicians who can’t get full GP status to practice under supervision.

All of this will be of at least some cheer to communities like Kamloops that continue to rack their brains for ways to attract family doctors. Everything from financial incentives to ski packages to undefined amenities are regularly discussed.

Provincially, a $118-million fund will help doctors keep their clinics open, and a new payment model for doctors is in the works.

I’m sure the B.C. Liberals/ B.C. United will complain that it all should have been done long ago but these latest moves might at least accomplish one thing — stopping the bleeding, figuratively speaking, of doctors from the system.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops, former TNRD director and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a recipient of the Jack Webster Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. He can be reached at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

About Mel Rothenburger (9358 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

2 Comments on EDITORIAL – Eby’s new plan for getting more doctors a drop in the bucket but…

  1. The health care system is a bastion of well paid and privileged positions particularly acute near the top. Is the pinnacle mostly responsible for the situation we find ourselves in? After all, as with any tightly regulated systems, the privilege found within is not easily extended outside of them.

  2. I remember many, many years ago, I was about 17 at the time, so were talking about 40 years ago, I was working with a man who immigrated to Canada from the Philippines, where he was practising as a neuro-surgeon for 10 years.

    Neuro-surgeon! Arguably alongside anaesthetist, the single most difficult speciality in the Healthcare realm.

    I confirmed this on a visit to his house where I saw his university accreditation and association affiliations framed … they were real.

    This was while we both worked in a restaurant (a Binos in Vancouver), where he functioned as a host … a pancake restaurant host seating people with menus.

    Due to non existent transfer, testing and accrediting procedures back then there simply was no way for him to work here. He ended up going to the UK where he began working within the year. We remained friends, and I was not surprised that 10 years later he was the head of the neuo-surgery board in the UK, and a teaching professor at the same time.

    A complete loss for Canada, only due to inept political will and building collective prejudicial barriers just for the sake of it.

    It is terrifying that here we are 40 years later and we are still watching government taking such baby steps to welcome healthcare professionals into our province.

    Yes … it should not be a free for all, training needs to be tested, and capability needs to be at the high standard required to work in Canada, but to be making such small steps now when this has been going on for over 40 years, can only be seen as incompetence.

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