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Shortage Of Family Physicians In Ontario

1399 words - 6 pages

Back in the year 1999, the Ontario Medical Association first declared that physician human resource shortage represents a "looming crisis" (Lofsky et al. 2005). Today, patients, physicians, and policymakers are all in agreement regarding the physician shortage facing Ontario, Canada. This shortage is said to be of unprecedented proportions, and one of the most significant challenges facing the health care system of the region. Tens of thousands of Ontarians are at risk of not having access to physician services in a timely manner ("Tackling the Doctor Shortage" 2004). In other words, the health of Ontario is in jeopardy. The family physician shortage problem affects communities as large as Toronto in addition to towns and rural areas across the province ("McMaster Medical Students Offered Incentive to Choose Family Medicine" 2004). One in ten Ontario residents is said not to have a family doctor. Nine in ten have access to family physicians. And, the overall provincial physician shortage exceeds 2,100 doctors, half of whom should be family doctors (Levitt 2005).In the city of Hamilton, Ontario, approximately 47 percent of the people immunized at vaccination clinics in the year 2005 indicated that they have no family physician. The number jumped to 100 percent for immigrants seen at the Settlement and Immigration Services clinics. So, the Public Health and Community Services used the National Immunization Week (April 24-30) to advice the residents of Hamilton that are affected by the family physician shortage that immunization services are indeed available, and to stress to all residents the importance of timely vaccinations to protect against vaccine preventable diseases. This effort provided a certain form of relief to the residents of Hamilton affected by the family physician shortage. What is more, the Hamilton Academy of Medicine reported that around 20,000 to 30,000 residents do not have a family physician ("Immunization Program Provides Crucial Service During Family Physician Shortage" 2005).The shortage of family physicians is not only affecting the province of Ontario in Canada. As a matter of fact, surveys have reported that more than 4 million Canadians cannot find a family physician to care for them. In the year 2002, it was estimated that Canada was short approximately 3000 family physicians. The situation was getting worse, and in the year 2004 it was estimated that another 1400 family physicians would retire in the between then and 2006 ("The Family Physician Shortage").The problem of family physician shortage happens to be more pronounced in the rural and remote settings in both the province of Ontario as well as Canada in its entirety. Approximately 30 percent of Canadians live in rural, remote, and northern areas; yet there are only 17 percent of family physicians practicing in those areas. Besides, the ratio of doctors to people is dropping faster in rural areas as compared to cities. The family physicians practicing their...

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