Saturday, February 28, 2009
I am following Teachers At Risk blog written by Elona Hartjes, a spec ed teacher in Ontario. I enjoy reading her posts. She is a caring dedicated teacher who writes of the joys and challenges of teaching students with special learning needs.
One of her recent posts, comments on a news article that the government of Ontario is going to give bonuses to doctors who take on challenging (unhealthy) patients. Seems like there's a trend for doctors not to accept patients who have complicated physical conditions. She suggests that perhaps they should do the same for teachers - give bonuses to those who take on our special learning needs students.
I think that her post was somewhat tongue in cheek (or not). But it really struck a cord with me, especially after I read her comment stream. She commented that:
...by offering incentives to doctors it LOOKS like the government is doing something. It seems to me family doctors are over worked as it is. What we need is more doctors not doctors taking on more patients.
More doctors - that's the issue. However, until the government funds more spaces in Canadian medical schools, there won't be more doctors. My daughter, who wanted to be a doctor her whole life, who obtained an undergrad degree in biology, and a masters in biochemistry, and is no slouch when it comes to hard work, couldn't get an interview for an Ontario med school. She ended up applying to St Georges in Grenada, getting accepted and offered a scholarship. She will be spending her residency in the US and will end up practicing there. Twenty percent of her class was Canadian.
There is no lack of talent or desire for young Canadians to be physicians. Think of all of those Canadian students who are going to foreign med schools. St Georges in Granada is not the only Caribbean school - there are a number of them with many young Canadians attending. And a good majority of these students will end up practicing in the States. Canada's loss, their gain.
There is a lack of will of our governments (federal and provincial) to do anything meaningful about the shortage. Windsor, a major urban area, has a doctor shortage of immense proportions. Yes, it looks like they're doing something when they opened a satellite med school here in Windsor, but it is my understanding that 24 spots were just transferred from the medical school in London - these are not new spots, just a new location. I guess the idea is that students who go to school here are more likely to practice here. I wonder if it is a government strategy to have Canadian students go to foreign med schools so they don't have to fund the education and then try to entice them back - it's probably cost-effective in the long run to do this. It's also cost-effective for the government to sell residency spots and med school spots to other countries. Every sale eliminates a Canadian. When my running partner, who is a physician and former president of the local medical society told me this I was really annoyed.
When Paul Martin was balancing the federal government's budget back in the early 90's, he was warned by the medical profession that doctor shortages would result if he made cuts to transfer payments. Looks like the they were right.
Note: I have edited this post after I published. I realized I didn't give it a title and wanted to add in some additional thoughts.