There was a recent New York Times article on the Surge in U.S. Medical Schools across the country. If you’ve been following the trends, there has also been a surge in Canadian Medical Schools in the last few years and the government is pushing hard for new seats in the near future. Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) was created to help create more rural doctors. In the last 3-4 years, there has been roughly a 15% increase in seats across Canada. There is no better time to apply to medical school than now! With a current shortage of doctors, impeding retirement from up to 30% of current physicians and a booming aging population, Canada needs doctors now more than ever.
However, like the comments in the article pointed out, an increased amount of doctors is not the solution to rising costs and quality patient health. There is still a lack of doctors going into primary care like family medicine or pediatrics. Although the trend is changing according to globecampus.ca, still not enough medical graduates are choosing to become general practitioners.
I’m all for increasing medical school spots in Canada. Every year, I know many qualified applicants get rejected because there are not enough spots. Instead, these students end up going abroad to complete their medical training, a loss to Canada. Training and keeping our doctors here is vital to the success of Canadian health care. We shouldn’t have to keep relying on foreign doctors to fill in the gaps. Although we benefit from medical professional migration, we end up hurting the countries we take from. We need to create solutions to our own problems.
So if you are a student considering medicine in the next 5 years, now is as good as a chance as there will ever be for you to be accepted into medical school. Granted you will still need to have a competitive GPA, MCAT and extracurricular activities, the chances of you getting in has dramatically increased.
But if you do become a doctor, please consider primary care practice. What Canada really needs is not more doctors, but more of the right type of doctors. There will always be a role for specialists in the system but what we really need now are more front-line doctors who can see patients before their problems escalate and help our population in the prevention of disease.