The annual report of the of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC shows while the number of doctors is on the rise in BC, the bulk of the increase does not address the greatest the area of the most acute shortage.
It says, in the fiscal year ending March 31st, the province added 146 specialists, but only 67 general practitioners.
Doctor Charles Webb is the President of Doctors of BC.
“The new graduating classes that are coming through which are up to 300 per class, about half of those are GPs,” he said. “The other thing that we have to look at is this year in our new class that came in that has gone into residency, 50 per cent of the residents come from other provinces this year which means that about half of the graduating physicians from UBC went elsewhere for residency. There’s a very good chance they’re all going to be coming home one day.”
The report says currently there are close 11,600 practicing doctors in the province, and that represents a year-over-year increase of slightly more than 200.
Meantime, fourteen more internationally-trained physicians will begin practicing in rural and remote communities this month, including two more family doctors in Fort St. John.
They represent the first group to participate in the new Practice Ready Assessment pilot program, which is a partnership between the Ministry of Health, Doctors of BC, regional health authorities, the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and the University of British Columbia.
This fall, 16 more doctors will go through the program, funded for a total of $2.8 million by the Joint Standing Committee on Rural Issues, in which doctors undergo what is called a rigorous assessment process.
Peace River North MLA Pat Pimm says, “This support is being extended to these doctors, as they as they start their practices”…and he adds the previously announced initiative “to increase much needed access to primary care in Fort St. John, is coming to fruition.”