I have spent the summer trying to avoid working, a noble endeavour. However, in 34 years of medicine I have never before been as successful in work avoidance as I have been this summer. Most people would assume that the reason is that I am becoming smarter (or sneakier) with advancing age; after all, doctors are like wine, they improve with age (or so I like to believe).
The reason I was able to take so much time off was much simpler and more straightforward than that. We have hired two new geriatricians on top of our recent hire from a couple of years ago! As well, one young geriatrician who did not want a permanent position (she is waiting to see where her cardiologist husband will get a job), worked as a locum. We have even been able to recruit a young American trained geriatrician who will start in 2014. She apparently prefers Canadian ‘socialized medicine’ to ‘Obama-care’. I now know that my eventual retirement will not leave a gaping hole in the attending schedule. Even better, there will be geriatricians to take care of me when I become frail! This ability to recruit new trainees into the field is happening across the country. Trainees realize there are excellent job prospects in geriatric medicine, and recent reimbursement hikes for geriatric consultations have made outpatient clinics in geriatric medicine an economically viable practice style. As well it is not just the numbers of trainees that is increasing. The quality of trainees is incredibly high, and most could qualify for any subspecialty program they chose. This trend to quality has been accentuated in Toronto where our program director (Barb Liu) and our division director (Sharon Straus) are both great mentors and role models.
We still have a long way to go in Canada both to train enough generalist health care providers in care of the elderly and to ensure an adequate specialist work force, but for the first time in my long career, I am not worried about the future health of my specialty, Geriatric Medicine.