Idle hands? What we know about surgeon unemployment in Canada

Idle hands? What we know about surgeon unemployment in Canada

Can J Surg 2018;61(2):82-84 | PDF

Matt Strickland, MD, MBA; Indraneel Datta, MD, MSc


The topic of unemployment and underemployment of Canadian general surgeons is being discussed more frequently despite relatively little evidence on the magnitude or impact of the problem. Using existing and new sources of health human resource data, a more accurate understanding of the situation can be attained. Although outright surgeon unemployment is rare, there is a population of dissatisfied new graduates who feel cornered into underemployment or locums. The number of practising general surgeons has outpaced population growth in recent years. However, the number of new trainees peaked in 2010 and has been decreasing steadily since then. There are many pressures that stand in the way of more accurate management of the general surgery workforce. A better understanding of the subject and better leadership at the national level may help improve system performance.

Accepted Oct. 20, 2017

Affiliations: From the University of Toronto, Toronto, Ont. (Strickland); and the University of Calgary, Calgary, Alta. (Datta).

Funding: The authors were supported by a grant from the Canadian Association of General Surgeons and the Ontario Association of General Surgeons.

Competing interests: None declared.

Contributors: Both authors contributed substantially to the conception, writing and revision of this article and approved the final version for publication.

DOI: 10.1503/cjs.014317

Correspondence to: M. Strickland Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre 2075 Bayview Ave., Suite H3-17 Toronto ON M4N 3M5