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Army to recruit Canada’s growing number of jobless medical graduates

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Vancouver—Canadian medical graduates who have not “matched” to a residency position this year may still be able to become family medical residents this July if they’re willing to do it wearing an army uniform.

Residency is the compulsory final stage of medical education in Canada, and trends suggest more Canadian medical graduates have not been offered a residency spot this year than ever before. Those graduates have medical doctor degrees, but will not be able to practise until they have completed residency.

The Canadian Armed Forces, which is currently 60 physicians short of the 250 it needs, is hoping to close that gap with a new program called the Medical Officer Training Program Surge 2018. Unmatched Canadian graduates between the ages of 17 and 47 can apply to join the army, and complete a two-year residency in family medicine through the program.

It doesn’t matter if they graduated from medical school in Canada or elsewhere. If they meet the army’s recruitment standards, and the academic requirements for a family medicine residency, they’re in.

“I know all of our folks here at the armed forces are excited about this untapped opportunity,” Colonel Pierre Morissette, director of force health protection, and a physician himself, said Friday in an interview with StarMetro.

“There are a lot of exceptional folks that we could end up recruiting and that could end up working as physicians in the armed forces,” he said.

The idea first came about last year when representatives from the Canadian Federation of Medical Students and from the army met to discus the mounting number of graduates going unmatched.

“The issue of unmatched Canadian medical graduates is top issue for our organization,” said CFMS president Henry Annan. “Understanding that this avenue might not be for everyone, we thought this was a possible opportunity for collaboration.”

Annan said about 50 graduates have already expressed interest in the program.

In B.C., the UBC Faculty of Medicine confirmed 12 graduates from this year’s medical class currently do not have a residency post lined up.

“Recognizing that the match is a highly competitive process, we are providing an array of resources and support services for this year’s 12 unmatched students, tailored to each student’s individual needs and career interests,” said Dr. Roger Wong, executive associate dean, education.

“The Family Medicine positions being offered through the Medical Officer Training Program represent an additional avenue for unmatched medical students across Canada. At UBC, we have informed our students of this additional opportunity and will be continuing to offer them support, tailored to their individual needs and career interests,” Wong said.

Morissette described how the experience of completing residency with the armed forces would be different from any other program. He’s been deployed to Afghanistan, for example, and he notes that army doctors are called in when natural disaster strikes. Canada is also preparing to send peacekeepers to the United Nations’ Mali mission.

“These are all opportunities where, if you’re wearing the uniform, you can be activated very quickly,” he said.

 

 

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Way back in the day I looked into the military as an option (I must confess, I have inquired as to whether my services could be of some use to the military more recently - alas, my specialty is not required at this time). This really is a great deal for the right individuals - think of it as a sort of return of service if you will. You get a fully funded residency position and the opportunity to practice medicine with no overhead. As well, if you want to further sub-specialize down the road, there are opportunities for this as well (ranging from dive medicine/flight surgeon qualification to full residencies in orthopaedic surgery, general surgery, emergency medicine, etc). There are of course drawbacks to military medicine that have been discussed before - but in the end, for those that are facing the possibility of not being able to practice medicine, this is a nice avenue to get back into the game - win-win for the military and the 'unemployed' physician.

 

On 4/14/2018 at 9:30 PM, Calopee said:

Do they have to enroll for a certain number of years? Do they have to do the soldier training?

When I last checked (best to discuss with a recruiter), the time 'owed' to the military was roughly 2 months for every 1 month of training (so you owe 4 years for your two year residency). As edict stated, you will attend basic officer training at the Canadian Forces Leadership School (learn how to be an officer and a soldier) which I believe lasts 14 weeks. You then attend Canadian Forces Medical Services school to learn about military medicine. Second language training and other smaller courses may be thrown in as well. 

Cheers

PMD

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12 hours ago, PilotMD said:

Way back in the day I looked into the military as an option (I must confess, I have inquired as to whether my services could be of some use to the military more recently - alas, my specialty is not required at this time). This really is a great deal for the right individuals - think of it as a sort of return of service if you will. You get a fully funded residency position and the opportunity to practice medicine with no overhead. As well, if you want to further sub-specialize down the road, there are opportunities for this as well (ranging from dive medicine/flight surgeon qualification to full residencies in orthopaedic surgery, general surgery, emergency medicine, etc). There are of course drawbacks to military medicine that have been discussed before - but in the end, for those that are facing the possibility of not being able to practice medicine, this is a nice avenue to get back into the game - win-win for the military and the 'unemployed' physician.

 

When I last checked (best to discuss with a recruiter), the time 'owed' to the military was roughly 2 months for every 1 month of training (so you owe 4 years for your two year residency). As edict stated, you will attend basic officer training at the Canadian Forces Leadership School (learn how to be an officer and a soldier) which I believe lasts 14 weeks. You then attend Canadian Forces Medical Services school to learn about military medicine. Second language training and other smaller courses may be thrown in as well. 

Cheers

PMD

Would the training count within the return of service time?

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11 hours ago, jfdes said:

Would the training count within the return of service time?

I contacted the recruiter for my area, and in one of the documents it said that anyone having their education subsidized (Med school) will sign a 12-year VIE.  This means you sign a 12 year commitment, but you are only required to complete 4 years of active service.  When you complete your 4 years, if you have time remaining on your VIE you may serve it voluntarily or be honourably discharged.  My understanding from reading the material is that the Basic Military Officer Qualification (14 weeks), Basic Medical Officer Course (4 weeks), Health Services Operations & Staff Officer Course (6 weeks), & potentially 2nd Language Training (up to 7 months max, but can be delayed if they need you posted somewhere) is not included in that 4 years of service.  I believe that's why the VIE is 12 years, instead of 10. The BMOQ can be done during the summers between school years, if scheduling allows, and the 2nd language training may not be required, so it's not that bad.

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16 hours ago, quacksflaptogether said:

Sounds like a pretty great option compared to being umatched! I wonder if they'll shut down the program though once they reach their quota of 60 recruits...

They probably will. 

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