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Quebec concerned about vacancies in family medicine residencies

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The popularity of family medicine continues to decline among Quebec students. According to data from the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS), 91 family medicine residency positions remain vacant after the first round of matching.

CaRMS is the pan-Canadian organization that assigns medical graduates a specialty for their residency.

This year's results also show that only six specialty residency positions remain vacant. In other words, over 90 per cent of all unfilled medical residency positions in the province are in family medicine.

"It doesn't surprise me, but it saddens me deeply. It's a great disappointment', said Quebec Physicians Federation (FMOQ) president Dr. Marc-André Amyot.

According to the FMOQ, over the past 12 years, nearly 600 family medicine training positions have not been filled, meaning that 600 doctors will not be available to provide services to Quebecers for the next 30 years.

"That's catastrophic," said Amyot.

It is expected that family medicine residency positions will be filled in the second round of twinning. Last year, for example, 26 positions were filled between the first and second rounds, reducing the number of vacancies from 99 to 73.

"We'll have to see at the end of the second round how many vacancies remain, and then we'll know whether we've managed to fill the vacancies," said Amyot.

He pointed out that 25 per cent of family doctors in Quebec are over the age of 60, and that more and more are leaving every year.

He is concerned to see that the public network has lost around 40 family doctors in the last year, adding to the actual shortage of over 1,200 family doctors.

"We are currently seeing difficulties in access (to a family doctor) and all this reflects a severe shortage of family doctors. And if we don't correct the situation, the shortage won't get better, it will get worse," warns the FMOQ president.

In his view, the priority is to correct the differences in remuneration between family doctors and other specialists. He also believes that the provincial government must eliminate legislative measures that he considers coercive and do more to tackle the administrative burden and work overload.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on March 21, 2024.

The Canadian Press health content receives funding through a partnership with the Canadian Medical Association. The Canadian Press is solely responsible for editorial choices. 

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