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What are resources for residency competitiveness and physician workforce trends?

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Aside from asking ourself whether we love the bread and butter of a specialty, what are the resources outlining residency competitiveness or job prospect (by specialty) that we can use to better choose a specialty?

For residency stats, there’s CaRMS data & reports

For job prospect, I know of:
Insights into Physician Workforce Trends in Ontario by OMSA
Physician perspectives: Workforce surveys by the CMA
Employment Patterns of Canada’s Newly Certified Medical Specialists by the Royal College

I fear we can’t eternally rely on Bearded Frog for his annual analyses on the forum, so I’d like to gain a tinsy bit of similar skills before futur CaRMS/gov toll.

Thanks and congrats to all those who matched (and everyone for surviving the matching process)!

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Specialty specific, but here is a link to radiation Oncology workforce projections. 

I did a lot of fact finding for this stuff in med school. It’s out there, but you need to dig deep. Some of the provinces do their own modeling and you can find PDFs from time to time of their projections. I know Ontario in the past has done detailed workforce analyses, as well as Alberta

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In terms of workforce, you can browse each province and association's website to get a sense of what job market and job expectation is like these days. Of course these are not predictive of future but at least it's something to go on. I get weary of these projection reports because as we know one swoop by the provincial government can turn things 180 degrees in the blink of an eye.

- HealthMatchBC, HealthForceON, DoctorJobsAlberta etc  - usually each province will have a recruitment website, and while not all jobs are posted, the posted ones do give you some sense of geographic demand.

- each specialty association, like the rad onc one above. Those jobs are sometimes more up to date. Pay attention to words like "fellowship is strongly recommended" "expertise in xyz", "busy practice", etc

- an alternative method is to survey the geography of your interest and see what workforce is like. This works only for small specialties. Say you want to practice plastic surgery in a medium sized city, well the number of plastic surgeons currently there can be found on each provincial physician college website. Say there are 5 plastic surgeons and 3 are all 55+, there is good chance within the next 5-10 years they might contemplate slowing down or winding down. Now the only downside is there are old timers who just won't quit unless a massive subarachnoid takes them, so sometimes you can't put all your bets on somebody retiring.

- Pre-covid, it's often good to attend conferences/meetings to fish for insider intel on jobs. A lot of positions aren't posted, and who will assume a position when somebody retires is already determined years in advance. So that's the reason why there are "ghost ads" for jobs that don't exist. I don't know how this will work in the COVID era but I guess other than electives and observerships it'll be much harder to gather this kind of intel nowadays.

- as a med student you can first do some observerships to get your face recognized within the department at your local hospital(s). When you're more familiar with the people there you can start probing residents and fellows on their career plans and how job hunting is going. I would especially probe fellows. For example did they do a fellowship because they couldn't find a job? If they have a job offer, does it actually match their fellowship skills? You can also probe senior residents, and especially ask them if they had wanted community vs academic jobs. Sometimes job searching strategy is very different for community vs academic settings.


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The best info comes from a trusted source who has gone through the job hunt themselves recently.

  • In general the least reliable will be middle-aged/older academic attendings who are far removed from the realities of the job search and are heavily incentivized to present an overly optimistic picture, e.g. even if only 1 former resident found a decent job out of 5, you can bet that's the guy/gal they'll be talking about. Most junior residents are pretty shielded from the realities of the job search and generally are relying on 2nd hand information themselves.
  • If the training duration has significantly lengthened in recently years (without a corresponding significant increase in complexity of work), that is also generally a sign of saturation. You can see this in the form multiple fellowships or pursuing graduate degrees (some medical specialties and most surgical subspecialties).
  • Number of public postings for job positions is a reasonable proxy, though as a medical student you'll probably only have access to things like HealthForceOntario and not any specialty-association forums/classifieds.
  • Modelling data can be useful but they often make some broad assumptions, such that most of the above info are more reliable indicators.

With reference to "retirement aged" physicians, I would be careful with that, mainly because some young specialists already face chronic underemployment. If one of the senior specialists retire, that doesn't necessarily lead to another hire and even if it does, there may already be a "backlog" of overtrained physicians ahead of you. Some specialties that are primarily cerebral and relatively slower-paced can allow for people to hang out for a long, long time.

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