Foreign-Trained Doctors are Subject to a Discrimnatory Treatment That Denies Them an Effective Access to Residency Positions
MONTREAL, Nov. 16 2010 /CNW Telbec/ - Foreign-trained doctors are subject to a discriminatory treatment on the basis of their ethnic origin in the course of the admission process leading to postdoctoral training in Québec.
Throughout the whole process, International Medical Graduates (IMG) face a series of obstacles that disproportionately disadvantage and excludes them from the faculties of medicine in Québec at the Université de Montréal, the Université de Sherbrooke, Université Laval and McGill University, according to the findings of a systemic investigation conducted by the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse released today.
"Our investigation clearly shows that foreign-trained doctors do not have the same opportunities as Québec graduates, to obtain a residency position although they pass the equivalence exam of the Collège des médecins du Québec (CMQ) and they have been covered by the government's immigration policy favouring the recruitment of highly-skilled professional since 2002," the President of the Commission, Gaétan Cousineau, told a news conference.
Residency is the last step on the road to obtaining a licence to practice medicine in Québec. It provides the needed clinical training in a hospital setting required by the CMQ.
In 2007, year of the investigation, each and every doctor who graduated from a Québec university was offered a residency position while two thirds of IMG physicians were rejected.
"This is all the more regrettable, said Mr. Cousineau, since the four faculties of medicine left 85 residency positions vacant - 62 in family medicine - while 174 IMG doctors, who had obtained the formal equivalence of the degrees from the CMQ, were excluded from the postdoctoral training."
The president of the Commission called on all the stakeholders involved in the admission process, particularly the faculties of medicine in Québec, to put in place a series of measures to correct these practices, including revising the selection procedures and criteria which discriminate against IMG physicians.
While elsewhere in Canada, the admission rate of IMG physicians is increasing yearly, the situation is not improving in Québec. Last year, 20 % of all Ontario physicians in residency programs were IMGs. That proportion was only 7 % in Québec, where 94 residency positions remained vacant.
"It's now up to the universities, the ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux and the Collège des médecins du Québec to move quickly to put an end to this discriminatory process. We know that Québec urgently needs more medical doctors," Mr. Cousineau said.
The Commission's investigation revealed that during the residency selection process, the Québec medical faculties question the value of the equivalence of IMG physicians' degrees granted by the CMQ. The rules and regulations clearly state this is a formal recognition but medical faculties treat it as a basic condition only.
Several obstacles contribute to penalizing IMG physicians compared to their colleagues who studied in Québec, notably the criterion of the length of time spent away from medical practice or studies. The application of this criterion and its disqualifying impact affect solely IMG physicians, given the lengthy immigration process and period of time required to obtain their degree equivalence.
An analysis of the 2007 data obtained in the course of the investigation shows that IMG physicians spent an average of four years away from medical practice or studies before applying for a residency position, while Québec graduates were rarely away from the medical practice or studies for any length of time as they applied immediately upon graduation.
Moreover, the investigation uncovered the important reservations expressed by faculty of medicine program directors relative to the ability to succeed of IMG candidates. In 2007, these misgivings led the universities to limit the number of spaces allocated to them in the postdoctoral training program in family medicine. Universities said they needed to dedicate additional educational resources to these students. However the Commission was not able to substantiate these claims.
The Commission also found that criteria and tools used to select candidates for the residency program had not been validated nor standardized, and led to subjectivity and prejudice, often unconscious, which contributed to the exclusion of IMG candidates.
For example, in one program, it appeared that the formulation of a number of questions during interviews reflected a negative perception toward IMG physicians, particularly regarding their ability to succeed. They were asked: "How would you react if you had to prolong your training because you failed your internship?" However, that question was never put to candidates who had obtained their medical degrees from a Québec university.
As for the admission process, essential information that could have excluded a candidacy was never brought to the attention of IMG physicians. And, while Québec graduates were offered information sessions organized by the faculties of medicine several months in advance of the interviews, the IMG physicians had to turn to a multitude of contacts to find the required information.
Although a number of initiatives have been put in place since 2007, the Commission believes that IMG physicians still do not have the benefit of adequate support measures to help them succeed. All parties involved in the process will have to work together to correct the discriminatory obstacles facing foreign-trained doctors when they seek admission to a postdoctoral program.
514 873-5146 or 1 800 361-6477 ext. 358