Nearly 20% of family physicians in Toronto plan to quit within 5 years

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Almost 20% of family physicians in Toronto plan to retire within 5 years

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Study lead author Dr. Tara Kiran worries about system health.

“I'm very worried,” says Dr. Tara Kiran, lead author of a new study that indicates Toronto could lose dozens of GPs over the next few years. years.

Over 1,000 family physicians in Toronto were surveyed in January 2021 for the study led by St. Michael's Hospital and Unity Health Toronto.

A total of 439 practitioners answered the questionnaire on their future. Of these:

  • 17.5% (77 doctors) said they plan to stop practicing within 5 years
  • Of these respondents, nearly 4% said they plan to leave the profession in the next 12 months.

Many of these family physicians wanted to retire, but others were planning to move into possibly less stressful private medical sectors.

For Dr. Kiran, it is a “wake-up call”, given that many Torontonians and Ontarians are already struggling to find a family doctor.

“Currently, 1.8 million Ontarians do not have a family doctor. For me, [the study] shows that we really need to tackle this problem.

— Dr. Tara Kiran, lead author of the study

According to Dr. Kiran, the current model of private practice places a heavy burden on the shoulders of young people financial and bureaucratic responsibilities and the related stress.

“It's like running your own small business. Going on vacation or taking parental leave is not easy.

— Dr. Tara Kiran, Family Physician at St. Michael's Hospital

If your income drops, which it did for many doctors at the start of the pandemic, you have to carry this burden alone, she adds.

Dr. Kiran says some family physicians are turning to sports medicine or palliative care, areas that can be less stressful, she says. It's not just compensation that matters, she adds.

Ontario Medical Association President Dr. Rose Zacharias also notes that family physicians spend too much time filling out paperwork. For her, it is a source of professional burnout.

To alleviate the shortage of family doctors, the Ontario Medical Association recommends, among other things, authorizing more than foreign-trained doctors to practice in the province.

The Ford government says recruiting more doctors, nurses and patient service associates is a priority for the province, which offers financial incentives for physicians, among others.

According to the Progressive Conservatives, the number of family doctors in the province has increased by 1,800 since they seized power in 2018.

Based on information from CBC's Trevor Dunn

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