Needs-based physician resource planning
November 29, 2016
- The AMA (Alberta Medical Association) commends government for its commitment to fund any new physicians that Alberta needs while working with the AMA toward a needs-based physician resource plan.
- Principles will guide the Board of Directors.
- The timing is good to develop an evidence-based plan without being driven by a crisis in physician supply.
The recently ratified Amending Agreement strikes a balance between providing quality of care for patients and respecting the fiscal prudence that the province’s financial situation requires. The issue of physician supply is an excellent example.
I applaud the minister and Alberta Health (AH) for agreeing that government will continue to fund any new physicians that Alberta requires. At the same time, they have committed to working together to complete a detailed, needs-based resource plan that will identify the optimal supply, mix and distribution of physicians. This is the kind of quality-focused and measured approach that will contribute to long-term sustainability.
The AMA, AH, Alberta Health Services and other key stakeholders will come together at the newly formed Physician Resource Planning Committee (PRPC). The AMA will have one representative, as will the Professional Association of Resident Physicians of Alberta and the Medical Students’ Associations. For more information on the mechanics of the PRPC, please see page 16 of the Amending Agreement for the terms of reference.
The AMA is eager to approach the task of building a needs-based physician resource plan, and to working with our partners to achieve this end. When there are many complexities and variables designed to support overarching goals, a principles-based approach is most effective as a starting point. At our December meeting, the Board of Directors will be discussing the principles and policies that the AMA will apply for our work at the table.
Can we succeed in this initiative? I strongly believe that we can.
One of the greatest benefits of the Amending Agreement is that it creates an 18-month window of opportunity for coming to terms with some big issues. By doing so, we are then positioned to address long-term solutions through our discussions for Negotiations 2018 and beyond. I am confident that the unprecedented gathering of partners at PRPC – and a mutual commitment to delivering what patients need – will be a successful venture and create a strong foundation for a sustainable future.
The timing is fortuitous. We are working to meet an identified need, but we are not under pressure of a crisis. Today for the most part, the natural attrition of physicians in the province is being resupplied by the output of our medical schools. We have the time and the ability to do things right. We have the knowledge and expertise to develop a highly refined and effective needs-based physician resource plan.
I will have more to say on this topic in the months ahead. I would like to know what you think about issues of physician supply and the principles that might guide us. Please email email@example.com or leave a comment below.
Padraic E. Carr, BMedSc, MD, FRCPC, DABPN