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Alberta lost over 300 physician registrations since Dec

2022 had the second worst year-over-year first quarter performance of the last 6 years.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta recently released their first quarter Physician Resources in Alberta update for 2022.

According to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, there were 10,965 registered physicians at the end of March 2022. That’s a net decrease of 188 over the previous quarter and a net increase of 99 over the same period in 2021.

Of the 18 communities listed in their report, only 3 saw a net increase in the number of registered physicians over the last quarter. Calgary had the largest net decrease, at 65, and Edmonton had the second largest, at 61, followed by Lethbridge, at 13.

As far as per capita registrations, Leduc saw the largest decrease, at 14.5 fewer registrations per 100,000 people. Lethbridge was second highest at 12.8, which was more than 3 times higher than Calgary’s rate and more than double that of Edmonton.

That quarterly net increase of 129 was a result of 317 new registrations and 156 cancellations:

New

  • 97 new registrations
  • 15 restored registrations
  • 15 returning to Alberta
  • 2 who came out of retirement

Cancelled

  • 32 left Alberta
  • 67 erased their own registrations
  • 86 were removed
  • 0 died
  • 132 retired

Of the new registrations, 15 were for physicians returned to Alberta and 71 who were trained outside of Alberta. When we compare that with the 32 who left Alberta, we get a net migration of 54 physicians into the province. Remember, that is for registrations. Theoretically, a doctor could leave Alberta but maintain their registration in the province.

The numbers reflect the physicians who maintained an active licence within the applicable quarter; it cannot be interpreted as those who are actively practising. . . . These counts do not necessarily reflect physicians’ functional area of practice, or even if they have an active clinical practice.

“Methodology”. Physician Resources in Alberta Quarterly Update: Jan 01, 2022 to Mar 31, 2022, pp. 1,3.

Let’s look at the registration numbers over the last 5 years or so (I couldn’t find any CPSA data beyond 2016):

QuarterNumberChange
Jan–Mar 202110,965-1.7%
Oct–Dec 202111,153-0.1%
Jul–Sep 202111,1672.2%
Apr–Jun 202110,9270.6%
Jan–Mar 202110,866-2.3%
Oct–Dec 202011,120-0.3%
Jul–Sep 202011,1522.3%
Apr–Jun 202010,9050.9%
Jan–Mar 202010,812-1.2%
Oct–Dec 201910,9480.4%
Jul–Sep 201910,9062.9%
Apr–Jun 201910,5990.8%
Jan–Mar 201910,519-1.5%
Oct–Dec 201810,6740.4%
Jul–Sep 201810,6302.7%
Apr–Jun 201810,3510.7%
Jan–Mar 201810,274-1.0%
Oct–Dec 201710,3760.0%
Jul–Sep 201710,3792.9%
Apr–Jun 201710,0881.0%
Jan–Mar 20179,991-0.6%
Oct–Dec 201610,0480.0%
Jul–Sep 201610,0433.4%
Apr–Jun 20169,7131.2%
Jan–Mar 20169,596-1.2%

Let’s look at all the first quarters together. First, we’ll compare first quarter registrations to fourth quarter registrations.

Now, to be fair, the first quarter always sees a drop when compared to the fourth quarter. That being said, this was the second largest first quarter decrease over the last 7 years.

In absolute numbers, 2016 saw a year-over-year increase of 340 new registrations in the fourth quarter, yet 2021 saw an increase of only 33.

And here are the last 7 first quarters with how much they’ve changed from the previous first quarter.

Physician registrations in the first quarter this year weren’t the worst we’ve seen since 20017, but they’re the second worst. Last year’s increase of 0.5% was smaller than this year’s loss of 0.9%

Prior to last year, the worst increase over the first quarter was in 2019, when we actually saw a 2.4% increase.

Now how do they break down by where they came from and where they went to?

Well, 26 of the 97 new registrations were from people trained in the province, compared to 28 in 2021. 71 were new registrations from outside Alberta and 15 were “restored”. In 2021, those numbers were 54 and 10, respectively, in the first quarter.

There were 15 registrations for physicians who returned to Alberta, compared to 5 in 2021. However, 32 of the 317 cancelled registrations were from physicians who left the province, as I pointed out earlier, leaving a net migration gain of 17 physicians.

Of the remaining 218 cancellations, 132 retired and 0 died, compared to 129 and 3 in 2020. As well, there were 86 removed registrations. These were for physicians who were suspended or were licensed for a limited period and have since been removed from the register. This number was 69 in the first quarter of 2021.

Finally, 67 physicians voluntarily erased their registrations. During the first quarter of 2021, 128 did so.

Oh, and I just want to point out that out of those 10,866 registered physicians, only 3,544 are registered in family medicine, which works out to be about 1 family doctor for every 1,264 residents. At the end of December 2021, Alberta had 1 family doctor for every 1,206 residents.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news stories, focusing on municipal, provincial, and federal politics, specializing in investigative journalism and critical analysis from a leftist political lens. He also writes regular editorials on general politics and social issues.

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