NS should double number of residency spots for medical schools to reduce wait times: Medical Association president

Doubling the population of Nova Scotia’s medical college graduates is the only way to ensure there are enough locally educated doctors to reduce long medical wait times in the state, says Doctors Nova Scotia president said. Representing over 3,500 physicians.

In recent weeks, two women have died after waiting hours for treatment in a Nova Scotia emergency room.

“I know that in the next 10 years we will probably need about 100 family doctors each year. With a system that works, they move into practice a bit faster.In that case, we need to double the number of residency spots.

But there is a problem.

All medical graduates accepted into a residency program must be supervised for some time by a more experienced physician called a preceptor who sets expectations, provides feedback on the resident’s performance, and provides learning opportunities. .

If there is no preceptor, there is no residency program. In addition, Nova Scotia has a shortage of doctors, making it difficult to obtain preceptors.

“Unfortunately, it’s a chicken and egg situation,” says Hawker.

“Every time we add more resident spots, we need more family medicine leaders who can train them. We need a certain number of doctors to train.”

Nova Scotia, like other states, is desperately trying to address a severe shortage of doctors and nurses.

The Fraser Institute reports that the province has the second-highest medical wait times in Canada, behind only Prince Edward Island.

That”WaitingLast year, Nova Scotia found that the median wait time from GP referral to specialist care was 58.2 weeks, according to the Canada: Waiting for Healthcare in Canada, 2022 report. I was.

This is more than double the national average wait time of 27.4 weeks and almost triple the wait time of Ontario, which has a wait time of just 20.3 weeks.

The total wait time of 58.2 weeks in Nova Scotia represents two consecutive periods. After being referred by his family doctor, he waited 37.3 weeks to see a specialist, and then waited another 21 weeks to see a doctor and finally receive treatment. Specialist.

The doctor shortage is having ripple effects in state emergency rooms.

Charlene Snow, 67, was sent home after waiting seven hours in the emergency room on December 30. She had a heart attack and died that night about an hour after she got home.

The next day, 37-year-old Alison Holtoff died in the Cumberland Regional Health Care Center’s emergency department after waiting nearly seven hours in extreme pain.

government action plan

Nova Scotia Prime Minister Tim Houston vowed to improve health care in the state.

“I walked out of meetings with healthcare partners like associations, service providers, educational institutions, regulated universities, unions and senior management,” he said. Tweeted on January 17th.

“My message to them is very clear – go to hell.”

Since then, Nova Scotia has action plan “Improve emergency care so that those in most urgent need get it first.” According to a news release issued Jan. 18, the plan aims to reduce ambulance response times and increase the number of places where people can get treatment, alleviating pressure on emergency departments. It is said that

Among various action items, physician-led teams focus on getting patients out of ambulances faster, physician assistants and nurse practitioners are assigned to provide care in the emergency department, and caregivers and Patient advocates are added to support patients in the waiting room. The state will also make virtual care available to more patients with lesser emergencies, allowing out-of-state doctors licensed in Nova Scotia to provide some of that online care.

There is a $11,500 tuition reimbursement for paramedics who agree to work in the state for at least three years, and the state is increasing funding to train medical first responders. , and adding a second air ambulance to handle routine trips between Yarmouth and Halifax for testing and treatment, allowing ground ambulances to stay in the community more frequently.

The plan will expand services with more pharmacies, add virtual office hours, increase support for home health care, and offer more mobile primary care, mobile respiratory clinics, and emergency care centers.

Karen Oldfield, president and CEO of Nova Scotia Health, said in a news release:

“It’s not our future. One person can’t move this mountain. If we all work together towards the common goal of a ready, responsive, and reliable system, we can make it happen.” .”

lack of housing

These are all good first steps, but more needs to be done and wait times in Nova Scotia may actually get worse before they get better, says Dr Hawker. .

Not only are there not enough doctors and nurses to handle the current workload, but there are also not enough living quarters for medical graduates to actually work, she said.

The medical school at Halifax-based Dalhousie University, which last year had 48 resident spots in family medicine statewide, will increase that to 58 by 2023, according to the state government in December 2022. We plan to increase it. news release.

The news release also said the province has added 10 residency positions to the six previously available seats designated for international medical graduates studying outside Canada.

But Hawker says that’s nowhere near enough residencies for the state in its efforts to get young doctors back into the workforce as quickly as their baby boomer colleagues are retiring.

“A quarter of our family physicians are actually over 60, which could exacerbate the health workforce challenge unless there is significant recruitment in the next few years,” she said. .

Although doctors are currently in short supply, she is optimistic about the future. One of her reasons is that foreign-trained doctors help ease her burden. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has several worker immigration programs to expeditiously track immigrants to Canada.

“Nova Scotia will see significant improvements in wait times over the next few years,” Hawker predicts.

James Risdon

James Risdon is an award-winning journalist based in Bathurst, New Brunswick, Canada.