The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta recently released their second quarter Physician Resources in Alberta update for 2023.
According to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, there were 11,260 registered physicians at the end of June 2023. That’s a net increase of 128 over the previous quarter and a net increase of 191 over the same period in 2022.
Of the 18 communities listed in their report, 11 saw a net increase of registered physicians over the last quarter; the remaining 7 saw a net decrease or saw no change in registered physicians.
Calgary, unsurprisingly, had the largest net increase, at 45, and Edmonton had the second highest, at 29, followed by St. Albert, at 6. Spruce Grove and Wetaskiwin were the only cities to see decreases, and both saw a net loss of 1 physician each.
That quarterly net increase of 128 was a result of 146 new registrations and 18 cancellations:
- 120 new registrations
- 18 restored registrations
- 6 returning to Alberta
- 2 who came out of retirement
- 2 left Alberta
- 1 erased their own registrations
- 6 were removed
- 3 died
- 6 retired
Of the new registrations, 6 were for physicians who returned to Alberta and 86 who were trained outside of Alberta. When we compare that with the 2 who left Alberta, we get a net migration of 90 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: Apr 01, 2023 to Jun 30, 2023, 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):
Let’s look at all the second quarters together. First, we’ll compare second quarter registrations to first quarter registrations.
As we can see, the second quarter always sees an increase in physician registrations, when compared to the preceding first quarter. In this case, at 1.15%, the second quarter of 2023 saw the second largest percentage-based increase since at least 2016.
Don’t get excited just yet, however. Remember that the first quarter of 2023 was the largest first quarter decrease since 2016 and it was the largest decrease of any quarter during that same period, both as a percentage (-2.41%) and in total registrations (-275).
So a significant increase in the second quarter would look even more impressive.
Which is why we also must compare it with previous second quarters. Here are the 8 most recent second quarters with how much they’ve changed from the previous first quarter.
Physician registrations in the second quarter of this year weren’t the worst we’ve seen since 2016, compared to the previous year, but they were the third worst. Last year’s gain of 1.30% was smaller than this year’s gain of 1.73%, as was 2021’s gain of just 0.20%.
Since the first quarter of 2019, the last quarter before the UCP took power, Alberta physician registrations grew by 741, or 7.04%.
By comparison, between the same period 4 years prior (first quarter of 2015 until first quarter of 2019), Alberta saw a net increase of 1,358 physician registration under the NDP. That’s an increase of 14.82%, more than twice as much as what we saw under the UCP.
Now how do they break down by where they came from and where they went to?
Well, 34 of the 120 new registrations were from people trained in the province, compared to 27 in 2022. 86 were new registrations from outside Alberta and 18 were “restored”. In 2022, those numbers were 87 and 11, respectively, in the second quarter.
There were 6 registrations for physicians who returned to Alberta, compared to 1 in 2022. However, 2 of the 18 cancelled registrations were from physicians who left the province, as I pointed out earlier, leaving a net migration gain of 90 physicians when added to the 86 registrations from physicians trained from outside Alberta.
Of the remaining 10 cancellations, 6 retired and 3 died, compared to 11 and 0 in 2022. As well, there were 6 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 first quarter of 2022.
Finally, 1 physician voluntarily erased their registrations. During the first quarter of 2022, 5 did so.
Oh, and I just want to point out that out of those 11,260 registered physicians, only 3,887 are registered in family medicine, which works out to be about 1 family doctor for every 1,210 residents. At the end of June 2022, Alberta had 1 family doctor for every 1,201 residents.