Alberta physician registrations see smallest 3rd-quarter increase in 5 years

Yesterday, the UCP government announced that for the first time, there were over 11,000 doctors registered to practice in Alberta.

Yesterday, the UCP government announced that for the first time in Alberta’s history, there were more than 11,000 doctors registered to practice in the province.

According to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, there were 11,152 registered physicians at the end of September. That’s a net increase of 247 during this past quarter and a net increase of 246 during the same period in 2019.

The largest proportion of that increase, unsurprisingly, was in Edmonton and Calgary, at 104 and 87, respectively. As well, 130 of those were in family medicine.

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

Jul–Sep 202011,1522.3%
Apr–Jul 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%

Yes, it’s true that this is the first time that physician registrations topped 11,000. It’s also true that registrations increased by 2.3% in the third quarter of 2020, compared to the previous quarter.

But something interesting shows up in that data. The largest jumps in registrations every year are always in the third quarter.

Let’s look at al the third quarters together.

So, while it is true that physician registrations are up by 2.3% over the second quarter in 2020, this is the smallest third quarter increase in the last 5 years.

This 2.3% increase is the first third quarter reporting after the UCP had been in power for a full year. The NDP, on the other hand, saw a 3.4% increase in their first third quarter reporting after having been in power for a full year.

And here are the 5 third quarters with how much they’ve changed from the previous third quarter.

Once again, physician registrations in the third quarter this year saw the smallest increase of all the third quarters since 2016, nearly half of the 2016 increase of 4.4% under the NDP.

Now, keep in mind that this is the number of registered physicians in Alberta. It’s not necessarily the number practising.

From the report:

The numbers reflect the physicians who maintained an active licence within the applicable quarter; it cannot be interpreted as those who are actively practising.

“Methodology”. Physician Resources in Alberta Quarterly Update: July 01, 2020 to Sept 30, 2020, p. 1.

Also according to the report, the reason for the bumps in registrations in every third quarter is because “the third quarter (actually, July 1) is when most physicians complete their postgraduate training programs and become eligible for full licenses.”

Oh, and I just want to point out that out of those 11,152 registered physicians, only 3,856 are registered in family medicine, which works out to be about 1 family doctor for every 1,300 residents.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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