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New CMA data: medicine growing fast, changing fast

New data from the CMA's Canadian Collaborative Centre for Physician Resources (C3PR) indicate that Canada has a lot more physicians than it did a decade ago, and a lot more of them are women.

The C3PR tables reveal that Canada has 22.4% more physicians today (74,526) than it had in 2003 (60,859). Residents, as well as physicians older than 80, are not included in the calculations, which are based on the CMA's Masterfile database. The new material was released in March.

The fact that women have heavily outnumbered men in Canada's medical schools for the past 15 years also means that the proportion of women physicians has grown steadily in the past decade. They now account for 36.9% of the medical workforce, up from 30.4% in 2003.

Other notable changes include:

  • Today women outnumber men in seven specialties - family medicine, endocrinology/metabolism, geriatric medicine, medical genetics, pediatrics, gynecologic oncology and obstetrics/gynecology. A decade ago, men outnumbered women in every one of the 40-plus specialties.
  • Men continue to dominate medical and surgical specialties, but their proportion has fallen from three-quarters (74.7%) a decade ago to two-thirds (67.5%) today.

In 2013, the highest overall proportion of men is found in three surgical specialties: urology (92.6%), orthopedic surgery (90.9%) and neurosurgery (90.8%).

Women claim their highest proportions in gynecologic oncology (69.2%), medical genetics (59.6%) and geriatric medicine (55.6%). As well, they now account for 50.7% of FPs - their total surpassed that of men for the first time in 2012.

The latest statistics also show that Canada's roughly 50/50 split between specialists and family physicians continues. In 2013, there were 38,259 FPs and general practitioners, and 36,246 specialists. Comparable numbers for 2003 were 31,503 and 29,306.

CMA President Anna Reid said the data gathered by C3PR provide valuable intelligence about the state of Canada's medical human resources. "Today's snapshots from C3PR help make tomorrow's HHR [health human resource] planning possible," she said.

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