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Original News Release





Nov. 18, 2005

Ministry of Health





British Columbia is working to support an adequate supply of physicians in the future by making it easier for internationally educated physicians to train in the province. The International Medical Graduate (IMG) residency program at St. Paulís Hospital was introduced in 1992 with two available spaces per year.In 2000, the program was expanded to accept four residents, and in 2002 it increased again to include six IMGs per year.Todayís expansion triples the existing spaces to 18, which includes 12 family and six specialty residency positions.


Government is also increasing the number of doctors educated in B.C. through the expansion of the University of British Columbiaís medical school. This includes an increase in the number of education spaces for undergraduate and postgraduate medical students, and the creation of satellite medical programs in the North, the Island and the Okanagan. The number of doctors in B.C. remains at a record high and continues to grow.


Growing number of doctors in B.C.

        The total number of physicians in British Columbia increased from 8,105 in 2001 to 8,348 in 2003, representing an increase of 243 doctors or three per cent, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI)*.

        B.C. has one of the highest per capita rates of physicians at 200 doctors per 100,000 population in 2003 up from 198 per 100,000 population in 2001. The Canadian average in 2003 was 187 physicians per 100,000 population, according to CIHI*.B.C.ís supply numbers continue to rise.


Healthy split between rural and urban family doctors in B.C.

According to the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada:

        B.C. has one of the best balances of family doctors between urban and rural areas, compared to other provinces.

        B.C.ís rural to urban physician supply has the best ratio in the country with one doctor for every 842 rural residents, compared to one doctor for every 802 urban residents.The national average was one family doctor for every 1,214 rural residents, compared to 896 residents for every urban doctor.


Working to expand B.C.ís supply of physicians

        In 2001, the provinceís medical school at the University of British Columbia (UBC) had only one campus in Vancouver with 128 seats.

        Expansion to UBCís medical school was announced in March 2002 with the creation of satellite medical programs in Prince George and Victoria.

        UBCís medical school facilities expanded under a $134 million program including $110 million for a new Life Sciences Centre at UBC and $24 million for new facilities at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) and University of Victoria (UVic).

        Medical school expansion is expected to double the number of available entry-level seats for medical students to 256 in 2007 from 128 in 2001.

        Undergraduate medical students now take the first semester at UBC and then complete the program at UBC, UNBC or UVic.

        The expanded medical school addresses rural, geriatric and Aboriginal issues. It will help undergraduate medical students study where they live and alleviate regional issues over access to physicians services by providing a pool of student doctors who will complete residency rotations in hospitals outside of the lower mainland.

        The Okanagan Medical Program was announced in April 2005 and will add an additional 30 first-year medical school spaces on top of the 256 when the program is expected to begin in 2009/10.


Doubling the number of residencies

Postgraduate entry-level medical education positions, or residencies, will increase to keep pace with the medical school expansions.

        The number of entry-level residency positions increased from 128 in July 2003 to 180 in 2005/06 and is expected to increase to 256 by 2011/12.This will be further expanded as the Okanagan Medical Program comes online.


More money for facilities to educate doctors

        Government is investing $27.6 million in the health authorities over the next four years to expand and upgrade academic space in teaching hospitals around B.C. and to support the increasing number of undergraduate medical students and postgraduate residents.


Faster immigration process for international doctors

        After practicing in B.C. for a minimum of nine months on a temporary work permit, internationally trained doctors can now gain permanent resident status in six to eight months instead of up to three years under a new component of the B.C. Provincial Nominee Program.



*Note: British Columbia physician data in 2004 do not reflect the annual update from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia as stated in Supply, Distribution and Migration of Canadian Physicians 2004 Southam Medical Database, Canadian Institute for Health Information.




Public Affairs Bureau

Ministry of Health

250 952-1887


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