Royal College Medical Workforce Knowledgebase©
Physicians play an important role in caring for Canadians. They practice in diverse settings and provide broad health care services to patients, ranging from prevention to diagnosis to treatment and rehabilitation. The provision of specialized medical care depends on the availability of specialty-trained physicians and other health professionals as well as practice resources, such as specialized equipment. Physician workforce supply information is a starting point for providing insight into patient access to specialized medical care and longer term planning.
Physician supply is defined by many factors that determine the size and composition of Canada’s medical workforce, such as:
- The number of entry level training positions and newly-certified specialists, which contribute to growth of the medical workforce and are known as inflows
- Retirement and international migration, which influence the number of physicians leaving the workforce and are known as outflows
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Physician supply is the net sum of numerous workforce inflow and outflow factors. Changes to these flows affect the size and composition of the physician workforce, and ultimately the level of access patients have to specialized medical care.
Canada’s physician supply story is one of starts and stops. The number of medical trainess has grown rapidly for a time and then levelled off. This has happened against a backdrop of steady population growth and aging. Canada has robust physician workforce databases that can show these changes, however the information is fragmented and does not provide a complete picture of the physician workforce supply chain.
The Royal College Medical Workforce Knowledgebase provides key insights on the size and composition of Canada’s current and future physician workforce.
Although the Medical Workforce Knowledgebase is currently limited to inflow and outflow measures, future development will include other factors like physician workload and practice patterns, as these factors also influence access to specialty care. The Knowledgebase will continue to grow in a variety of other ways, including:
- Adding workforce data, such as full-time equivalency rather than just head counts
- Adding healthcare delivery data to provide insight on scope of practice across specialties
- More in-depth analysis to understand how the healthcare workforce is changing against the needs of patients and communities.
Please see our Medical Workforce Supply Overview for a summary of how Canada’s physician workforce is changing.
Please visit our Data Sources and Metrics section for methodological details.
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