By Julia Belluz - Friday, September 14, 2012 - 0 Comments
Anyone who has read the news from Canada in the last six months knows that there is a serious labour struggle going on between doctors and governments. In Ontario, the situation has been particularly fraught. Heated negotiations over physician fees—against the backdrop of a $13-billion deficit—have led some of the province’s MDs to warn that, if things don’t change, they’re going to leave for greener pastures.
Radiologists and cardiologists have made public threats, and even idealistic medical students are chiming in. As Stephanie Kenny, of the 2013 class at the University of Ottawa told Science-ish in an email, “The average medical school student today will graduate with $150,000 of debt and will spend 13 years in training after high school before becoming a fully licensed physician.” Though she would “love to practice in Ontario,” she added that “there is a perfect storm brewing that is making this a difficult and unpalatable place to work.”
Now, Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews says she isn’t buying the chatter. But it’s not that far fetched: Canada has experienced doctor brain drains in the past. In the 1990s, when the government capped spending on physicians, there was a steady trickle of Canadian-trained physicians into the U.S. So Science-ish wondered, based on the data we have about the MD workforce, are we poised for a doctor exodus?
By Julia Belluz - Friday, June 15, 2012 at 11:06 AM - 0 Comments
At a meeting of doctors in B.C. last week, Science-ish listened in as a couple of surgeons complained about slow turnovers between procedures in their operating rooms. These Vancouver physicians said they’ve had to send anxious patients home who were scheduled for surgeries or wile away coffee breaks waiting for their theatres to be prepped. The reason for the slowness? Money—or so they believed. While they are paid on a fee-for-service basis, the cleaners and nurses who prepped the OR are salaried. The discord in payment models seemed to cause a discord in the OR: The doctors felt the salaried hospital workers had little incentive to move quickly, while they did. Patients’ lives hung in the balance.
Science-ish ran the anecdote by health-care analyst Steven Lewis, and he got right to the heart of the tensions that can flare among groups of health professionals. “That’s hugely disrespectful to nurses and housekeepers to make the assumption that the only thing that would motivate them to work efficiently and effectively is to be on the same the fee-for-service treadmill as those physicians,” he said.
But was there a grain of truth to the story? Does how we pay health-care workers impact patient care?