May 17, 2018 11:24 pm

Canadian military recruiting doctors who need to complete medical residencies

A Kingston-born program has the Canadian Forces helping new doctors by providing medical residencies.

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The shortage of family doctors in Ontario is being made worse by a shortage of another kind: there aren’t enough places for new doctors to complete their residencies. It’s a crucial step before they can take on patients of their own.

Now, there’s a Kingston-born idea to fix the problem by getting doctors to join the military.

Dr. Brent Wolfrom at Queen’s University says the Canadian Forces need doctors and new doctors need to do their residencies.

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“We have this large number of doctors who are unable to practise because they can’t complete their training because there are just not enough residency positions nationally to match to a position.”

READ MORE: Military families have hard time finding family doctors

The “Medical Officer Training Program Surge 2018” is creating additional family medicine residency spots across the country funded by the military.

On Thursday at Queen’s Haynes Hall, a handful of those interested were given the opportunity to apply and interview for the residency spots.

“In the Canadian Forces, as far as uniform physicians are concerned, we have positions for about 250 and right now, we’re undermanned, we have about 200 folks that are filling those positions,” says Major Mike Strawson, who is a flight surgeon, medical officer and the person responsible for directing the careers of physicians in the Forces.

READ MORE: N.S. premier says family-doctor shortages a result of ‘zero’ action from past governments

Queen’s medical graduates will be taking four of an estimated 10 spots in the Canada-wide program.

Wolfrom says Queen’s and the department of family medicine have a long-standing relationship with the Armed Forces.

In the battle to get more family doctors on the ground in Canada, “Surge 2018” could bring the province a little closer to mission accomplished.

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