On Saturday, December 2nd, Times Colonist posted an editorial examining the reasons behind the shortage of general physicians in B.C.

The article primarily referenced a study on the subject conducted by researchers at the University of British Columbia.

According to the editorial, the results of the research state that the number of general physicians has increased by thirteen percent between 2005-2012.

Over the same time period, the number of patient visits declined by fourteen per cent, and the number of patients in each practice fell ten per cent.

The contents of the report

The TC report then goes on to talk about how because of increases in Physician remuneration, GPs can afford to work fewer hours and earn the same paycheck.

It focuses specifically on female physicians who see approximately 40 per cent fewer patients than their male counterparts. The article cites child-bearing as one of the factors that contributes to this imbalance.

It concludes with suggestions to improve the system by introducing measures like:

  • group practices with specialists such as dermatologists and mental-health practitioners,
  • encouraging doctors to renew routine prescriptions online, and
  • employing more social workers and nurse practitioners to share the workload.

The author’s argument ends with the thought that “While there are two sides to this issue, we must ask physicians to bear more of the burden.”

A physician’s response

There have been several responses to this argument. One of the most significant ones was written by Dr. Jenn Tranmer of Grow Health Clinic.

Her counter-argument was posted to the clinic’s Facebook page and expresses her disapproval of the “disrespectful” tone taken in the TC article.

In the post – which garnered several comments of approval and support from the followers of the page – Dr. Tranmer points out that as a GP and mother, she works about 50-60 hours per week, of which 12-36 hours are overnight or on the weekend.

She also points out that her income as stated in the MSC Financial Statement is about 56% higher than what she takes home after paying for the costs of running a family medicine operation out of her own community office.

The response takes particular issue with the article’s comment on female GPs: “Should I encourage my two girls to avoid medicine as a career as their breasts and uteruses will prevent them from serving society as is adequate?”

Read Dr. Tranmer’s full review of the report below: