Sunday, July 4, 2010

We need doctors, but at what price?

There’s an important debate going on the UK at the moment about the quality of health care and more importantly, the quality of the physicians delivering that health care. The issue is poorly trained doctors who cannot speak good English. There is a danger when facing a shortage of physicians to turn to developing countries for international medical graduates who may not have the same calibre of training as our Canadian-trained doctors. A case in point, there are a number of medical schools in the Caribbean where students who fail to make the grade in Canadian medical schools can basically “buy” their education at exorbitant tuition rates but the catch is they must do their practical training or “clinical clerkship” in American and Canadian hospitals because the Caribbean schools do not have the facilities. Saba University even says this on their website: “Your clinical education at Saba University consists of 72 weeks of clinical clerkships at teaching hospitals in the United States and Canada.” These places are medical degree factories.

So, there are two questions here: how does the Newfoundland government and the College of Physicians & Surgeons deal with quality of training issues and how do they deal with service delivery when the patients, especially the elderly, can’t effectively communicate with their foreign-born physician? The other question of course is cultural differences. Some of the incoming physicians truly do not understand our culture and the way they treat the allied health professionals who work with them is a clear example of that.

Bottom line: we need the doctors, but at what price?

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