British Columbia to increase number of foreign-trained doctors

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B.C. to increase number of foreign-trained doctors

David Eby announces expansion of program that trains and accredits doctors who graduate from overseas universities.

< p class="e-p">To address the shortage of family physicians and ease emergency room overcrowding, British Columbia is tripling the number of internationally trained family physicians who will be admitted to a program allowing them to practice in the province.

The number of places in the Practicum Evaluation Program (CEE), will grow from 32 to 96 per year, by March 2024, said the Prime Minister, David Eby, and his Minister of Health, David Eby.

Launched in 2015, the program aims to encourage foreign doctors to settle in rural areas. Currently, 188 family physicians have been trained and placed in 57 communities across the province.

At the announcement made at a press conference on Sunday , the government has also indicated that there will be a new Associate Physician status for foreign-trained doctors who do not meet all of the eligibility requirements of the Canadian system.

They will be able to perform certain functions under the supervision of a doctor. The Minister of Health estimates that approximately 300 people will be eligible for this new designation.

The government is also accelerating accreditation for doctors trained in the United States. They will be able to practice in British Columbia in community settings, such as medical offices, after three years of training in the United States starting in January 2023.

This will benefit our patients, so many of whom are looking for someone who can take care of them right away,” said British Columbia Physicians Association President Dr. Ramneek Dosanjh, present at the government press briefing.

The number of people in British Columbia without a family doctor is nearly 1 million, or almost 20% of population.

The Minister of Health expects each new doctor to be responsible for more than 1,200 patients. Adrian Dix also says that other measures will follow to facilitate the accreditation process for foreign doctors, which is often criticized as onerous.

People wishing to apply for the Assessment Program ability to practice will be able to do so from abroad, which will make the process easier and more attractive, says the Minister of Health.

The medical director of the Vancouver Infectious Diseases Center, Brian Conway, says that the addition of a few hundred people is important but that we must not forget to target their interventions in order to meet the needs of the population. In fact, much more action is needed from the government, says Dr. Conway.

“It's going to take us even longer to fix a problem…where the wait for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans is over a year. For consultations with different specialties, we are now told that we will be back for an appointment in early 2024.”

— Dr. Brian Conway, Medical Director of the Vancouver Infectious Disease Center

< p class="e-p">Mr. Dix subtly criticized the previous Liberal government, pointing out that the number of people without a family doctor was 300,000 in 2003, and has been getting steadily worse ever since.

The changes we developed with the British Columbia Physicians Association are fundamental, he says. I think a reasonable person would say they should have been in place a long time ago.

In 2018, British Columbia had 6,356 family physicians, according to the x27;Canadian Medical Association.

With information from Catherine Dib

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