Background: Few studies have monitored physician supply in Canada, and no studies have specifically examined the Canadian plastic surgery workforce.
Methods: In this study, data were gathered by three methods. A survey was distributed to all members of the Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons in October of 2004. Opinions on the availability of plastic surgery services were solicited. A second survey that focused on demographics and workload was distributed in December of 2004. Finally, the locations of all Canadian trainees graduating between 1995 and 2005 were reviewed.
Results: The response rate to the first survey was 42 percent. Seventy-eight percent of respondents felt that there was a shortage of plastic surgeons in their community. The response rate to the second survey was 40 percent. Twenty-eight percent of respondents were within 5 years of retirement and 3.2 percent stated that they planned to emigrate by 2010. The mean waiting time for an elective consultation was 32 ± 33 weeks. Review of all 179 plastic surgery graduates over the past 10 years revealed that 23 percent now practice outside of Canada.
Conclusions: When these results are projected to the total workforce, they indicate that there will be a future shortage of plastic surgeons in Canada. To prevent a further deficit, there is a need to increase the number of plastic surgery trainees in Canada, to offer incentives for graduates to stay in Canada, and to possibly recruit more foreign-trained plastic surgeons to practice within Canada.