Antony Raikhlin didn’t bother looking for jobs during his medical residency. There was no point, he was told, because jobs in his field — radiology — were scarce.
His job hunt began in July 2012, at the beginning of his one-year fellowship — the final leg of his training. “I started looking around and there weren’t that many ads,” he recalled. Dr. Raikhlin, 32, figured more ads would appear as the year went on. “By the fall I started getting a little nervous because there were very few ads coming out.”
He eventually secured a staff radiology post at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. He feels fortunate to have nabbed a position in his home city.
Many new specialists — as well as graduates in fields from nursing to physiotherapy — are leaving school facing uncertain job prospects. Many graduates must move to other provinces to secure work. There are plenty of health care jobs out there, but the demand varies greatly from field to field, and from province to province.
Radiology is just one medical specialty connected to a soft job market. Danielle Fréchette, director of the office of health policy and external relations at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, says the job prospects are particularly “problematic” for graduates in neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, cardiac surgery, and anesthesiology. “There aren’t that many jobs for the disciplines in question,” she said.
After scanning the various provincial ministry of health job sites, Ms. Fréchette reports there are 275 physician job postings in Alberta. Of those, there are no orthopedic positions and just two general surgery posts.
She says the soft job market for some specialties is a new phenomena; it started in 2010 with cardiac surgery. “It’s definitely a sad state of affairs for a number of disciplines,” she said. “And it’s difficult for patients who wait for treatment to accept that there are able and willing young doctors [out there].”
A convergence of factors are to blame, Ms. Fréchette said, pointing to, among other things, a lack of operating space and senior doctors who are delaying retirement because of the poor performance of their investments. Adding to the situation is the lack of a central hub for physician job listings across Canada, which forces new doctors to sift through a “maze” of job websites.
It’s not all bad news, however. Ms. Fréchette notes that some specialties, such as psychiatry and geriatric medicine, are in need of new doctors. And family doctors are in demand across the country.
Linda Silas, president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, describes the job market for new nurses as “pretty poor.”
“And it is not because there’s no need. The issue is that provincial budgets are under stress… they can’t hire new graduates,” she said.
Ms. Silas says 11,000 new registered nurses graduate in Canada each year. “But very few are getting permanent employment,” she adds.
That said, there is still demand for nurses, at least according to numbers from Neuvoo, a website that aggregates job postings from across Canada. Neuvoo co-founder Lucas Martinez says the site currently contains postings for 260,000 jobs, of which 17.5% are in health care.
He reports 1,900 postings seeking registered nurses in Ontario, with a median pay rate of $36 an hour. In Quebec, there are postings for 2,000 registered nurses, although the median pay is $30 an hour. The lowest nurse pay, according to Neuvoo, is found in Quebec, while Saskatchewan boasts the highest.
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