Canadian pediatric gastroenterology workforce: current status, concerns and future projections

Véronique Morinville, Eric Drouin, Dominique Lévesque, Victor M Espinosa, Kevan Jacobson
Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology 2007, 21 (10): 653-64

BACKGROUND: There is concern that the Canadian pediatric gastroenterology workforce is inadequate to meet health care demands of the pediatric population. The Canadian Association of Gastroenterology Pediatric Committee performed a survey to determine characteristics and future plans of the Canadian pediatric gastroenterology workforce and trainees.

METHODS: Estimates of total and pediatric populations were obtained from the 2001 Census of Population, Statistics Canada (with estimates to July 1, 2005). Data on Canadian pediatric gastroenterologists, including clinical full-time equivalents, sex, work interests, opinions on workforce adequacy, retirement plans, fellowship training programs and future employment plans of fellows, were gathered through e-mail surveys and telephone correspondence in 2005 and 2006.

RESULTS: Canada had an estimated population of 32,270,507 in 2005 (6,967,853 people aged zero to 17 years). The pediatric gastroenterology workforce was estimated at 9.2 specialists per million children. Women accounted for 50% of the workforce. Physician to pediatric population ratios varied, with Alberta demonstrating the highest and Saskatchewan the lowest ratios (1:69,404 versus 1:240,950, respectively). Between 1998 and 2005, Canadian pediatric gastroenterology fellowship programs trained 65 fellows (65% international trainees). Twenty-two fellows (34%) entered the Canadian workforce.

CONCLUSIONS: The survey highlights the variable and overall low numbers of pediatric gastroenterologists across Canada, an increasingly female workforce, a greater percentage of part-time physicians and a small cohort of Canadian trainees. In conjunction with high projected retirement rates, greater demands on the workforce and desires to partake in nonclinical activities, there is concern for an increasing shortage of pediatric gastroenterologists in Canada in future years.

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