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Advocacy & Health Policy / Défense des intérêts et politiques en santé


Patients Continue to Wait…and Orthopaedic Surgeons Continue to Languish in Unemployment – The Status of Orthopaedic Unemployment in Canada Peter B. MacDonald, M.D., FRCSC, COA President Emil Schemitsch, M.D., FRCSC, COA Human Resources Committee Chair Trinity Wittman, MSc, COA Development and Advocacy Manager

“…this is a horrible spot to be in, $150K of educational debt and no job prospects!!!” “...extremely discouraging to have gone through 15 years of post-secondary education and not to have full-time employment” “I am frustrated by job postings that are …a formality…successful applicants have already been chosen…” “was told that I was not a viable candidate for a community job because I did not have two fellowships…it is an appalling job market” “we will downgrade our profession if we continue this” “…many, if not all, full-time jobs appear to be pre-determined and not open to other candidates…” “extremely disappointed…no job in the field I am so passionate about… extremely difficult for me, my spouse, our children…likely have to relocate from the country and province we call home” “I still don’t understand why the COA allowed excess residents to be trained” “please stop training so many new grads” “our system is TOTALLY broken” “I personally would not have chosen my specialty had I known the sad state my “staff” colleagues have left the job market” “I am terrified about unemployment following completion of my training” “the COA should do more to help me find a job” “…took a job in the US as there were no jobs in my specialty in Canada” “…hope to practice in Canada…but likely will not have that option” “I have little to no hope I will ever get a job in orthopaedics”


hese are just a few of the comments the COA received from Canadian-trained orthopaedic graduates when surveyed recently about employment. They reflect some of the hurt, frustration and even anger that is being felt by the almost 200 unemployed graduates in the country right now. Canada’s unacceptably high rate of unemployment among orthopaedic graduates poses a serious threat to the quality of patient care and to surgeons’ personal and professional wellbeing. The ever-increasing number of graduates unable to find employment in Canada are faced with chronic locum experiences and serial fellowships, and many are turning to job opportunities abroad. Members have shared stories of financial and emotional burden which cannot be ignored. The COA Bulletin ACO - Winter / Hiver 2016/2017

COA Board of Directors would like graduates to know that your voice is being heard. A number of initiatives are underway: Data collection: The COA Board identified a lack of accurate data around surgical unemployment, and has invested significant resources in detailed collection of underemployment data, offering the needed tools to advocate for further resources with various levels of government. For some of the latest statistics, see the Orthopaedic Unemployment Fact Sheet (opposite page). Education: The COA urges members at all stages of their career to educate themselves about the unemployment crisis and to take steps to help manage this situation. For the Board’s complete list of recommendations, please refer to the Orthopaedic Graduate Unemployment Position Statement. Reduction in residency spots: The COA has encouraged all orthopaedic programs to consider temporary, but immediate reductions in residency spots. As a result, the number of R1 residency positions nationwide decreased from 81 in 2011 to 64 in 2016. Given the lengthy training process required to recruit and train orthopaedic surgeons, this recommendation must be closely monitored as long wait times are persistent, and Canada’s aging population will call for more specialists in coming years. Despite these facts, however, we expect the limiting factor will continue to be public funding to invest in new permanent orthopaedic positions, as well as the hospital-based resources required to support them. COA Job Board: The password-protected membership portal offers a Canadian orthopaedic Job Board, where surgeons can post and seek available positions at no charge. We encourage all hospitals to maintain a transparent hiring process whereby jobs are widely circulated for equal opportunity to all graduates seeking employment. Help us out! If you hear of an orthopaedic job opening, please send a note to We will follow up directly with the orthopaedic centre in hopes of posting the position on our site. Free Services: COA membership is offered free of charge to residents, fellows and job seekers (including those doing locums and part time work). Newly-hired surgeons are offered a 50% rebate on their membership dues for the first year in practice. This initiative translates to 6-10 years of free membership benefits. The COA Membership Committee is sensitive to the challenges our new surgeons are facing, and this is one way we could offer support. Click here to see some of benefits offered to COA members. Late Career Transition Planning and Job Sharing: Traditional definitions of a full-time position should be reconsidered with a focus on late-career practice changes. We strongly encourage

COA Bulletin #115 - Winter 2016-17  

The Winter 2016-17 edition of the COA Bulletin, the official publication of the Canadian Orthopaedic Association