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Annual increase in AB doctors 2nd lowest in 7 years

2022 had the 6th worst year-over-year performance of any quarter over the last 7 years.

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

According to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, there were 11,069 registered physicians at the end of June 2022. That’s a net increase of 104 over the previous quarter and a net increase of 142 over the same period in 2021.

Of the 18 communities listed in their report, every one saw a net increase in the number of registered physicians over the last quarter. Calgary had the largest net increase, at 48, and Edmonton had the second largest, at 28, followed by Red Deer, at 8. Lethbridge saw only 2 over the 3-month period.

That quarterly net increase of 104 was a result of 127 new registrations and 23 cancellations:

New

  • 114 new registrations
  • 11 restored registrations
  • 1 returning to Alberta
  • 1 who came out of retirement

Cancelled

  • 3 left Alberta
  • 5 erased their own registrations
  • 4 were removed
  • 0 died
  • 11 retired

Of the new registrations, 1 was for physicians returned to Alberta and 87 who were trained outside of Alberta. When we compare that with the 3 who left Alberta, we get a net migration of 85 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
Apr–Jun 202211,0690.9%
Jan–Mar 202210,965-1.7%
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 second quarters together. First, we’ll compare second quarter registrations to first quarter registrations.

Now, to be fair, the first quarter always sees an increase when compared to the first quarter. That being said, this was the third largest second quarter increase over the last 7 years.

In absolute numbers, 2016 saw a quarter-over-quarter increase of 117 new registrations in the second quarter, yet 2022 saw an increase of only 104.

And here are the last 7 second quarters with how much they’ve changed from the previous second 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 0.25% was smaller than this year’s increase of 1.3%

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

Not only that, but it was the 6th lowest increase of all 26 quarters since the beginning of 2016.

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

Well, 27 of the 114 new registrations were from people trained in the province, compared to 22 in 2021. 87 were new registrations from outside Alberta and 11 were “restored”. In 2021, those numbers were 56 and 11, respectively, in the second quarter.

There was 1 registration for physicians who returned to Alberta, compared to 4 in 2021. However, 3 of the 23 cancelled registrations were from physicians who left the province, as I pointed out earlier, leaving a net migration gain of 111 physicians.

Of the remaining 20 cancellations, 11 retired and 0 died, compared to 11 and 3 in 2021. As well, there were 4 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 4 in the second quarter of 2021.

Finally, 5 physicians voluntarily erased their registrations. During the second quarter of 2021, 11 did so.

Oh, and I just want to point out that out of those 11,069 registered physicians, only 3,561 are registered in family medicine, which works out to be about 1 family doctor for every 1,264 residents. At the end of March 2022, Alberta had 1 family doctor for every 1,264 residents.

Alberta saw 238 new registrations for family doctors during the second quarter of 2022. They also lost 170 family doctors, including 51 who left the province. That’s a net increase of 188 family doctors.

So, even though Alberta gained nearly 190 more family doctors than we had at the end of March, the number of family doctors per person in Alberta hasn’t changed.

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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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