Canadian Medical Association

Concerns about the backlog of unmatched Canadian medical graduates are gaining urgency in light of the most recent data from the Canadian Residency Matching Service (CaRMS).

A total of 169 Canadian medical student participants were unsuccessful in securing a residency position after both iterations of this year’s match cycle – the highest number in the history of the service.

Unmatched Canadian medical graduates – highlights from 2018 
Data was recently released on the number of Canadian medical graduates (CMGs) who will not enter residency this year:

  • 69 2018 CMGs were unmatched after round two (up 1 from 68 in 2017)
  • 54 prior year CMGs were unmatched after round two
  • 46 CMGs who did not match in round one did not enter round two (up from 31 in 2017)
  • The ratio of the quota of positions offered to CMGs has dropped to 1.01 (The CMA has been advocating for a buffer of 1.2 residency positions for every CMG)

Read the full CaRMS report: 2018 R-1 Main Residency Match: Data snapshot

The CMA has long advocated for a more flexible postgraduate medical education system so that Canadian physicians can pursue their medical careers in Canada, and not be forced to seek postgraduate training internationally. In our policy, “Flexibility in Medical Training”, the CMA recommends that medical students be provided with sufficient choice to seek the training that best matches their skills and interests, as well as societal demands.

In December 2017, the CMA wrote to the federal and provincial/territorial ministers of health, urging them to fund additional postgraduate positions. While many responded by acknowledging the growing number of unmatched medical school graduates, only one jurisdiction has officially taken steps to address the immediate challenges.

Last month, the Ontario government announced it would fund the one-time creation of 53 additional residency positions in the province. The positions are for unmatched candidates who have completed their undergraduate training at an Ontario medical school, and are in high-demand specialities, such as family, emergency and internal medicine as well as paediatrics and psychiatry.

Graduates who occupy these additional residency spots will be required to provide service for two years in underserviced communities across the province – for instance, specific regions in Northern Ontario. Although this funding is only for one year, the province has plans to develop and implement a longer-term solution.

Moving forward, the CMA will continue to advocate for improvements to the country’s postgraduate education system, in concert with the other national medical organizations. This includes ongoing work with CaRMs, the Canadian Federation of Medical Students, and the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada.

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