Surgeons need complete training; issue is lack of beds, operating room time

In a recent letter to the editor, Don Munro asserts that some health-care problems could easily be cured by training surgeons in the same way as trades people are.

In a recent letter to the editor, Don Munro asserts that some health-care problems could easily be cured by training surgeons in the same way as trades people are.

Whereas obviously there are many good ideas that could be implemented to improve surgical training, I don’t see how converting surgery to a trade would be beneficial. Only 20 per cent of a surgeon’s work week is actually doing surgery, so how do you train someone for the non-surgical clinical work that is involved?

Doctors all over the world have medical training first to not only learn the basics of medicine, but also for them to determine what interests and aptitudes they may have, whether it be family medicine, cardiology, neurology or even surgery.

The real issue isn’t an insufficient number of surgeons today in Canada. Actually, there are now a significant number of orthopedic surgeons in Canada who can’t find a job.

There is a huge demand for this specialty, but there are not enough clinical resources of beds, operating room time and equipment to support them. Unfortunately, one of the ways the health-care system can control health-care expenditures is to not supply the infrastructure required to support the needed number of surgeons.

So no, making surgery a trade and cranking out undertrained surgeons would not solve anything. It would only add to the numbers of unemployed and underemployed surgeons already in this country.

I think there are many good and innovative ideas that could improve access to surgical care in Canada and at the same time respect the Canada Health Act. Lowering surgical standards of training isn’t one of them.

Lance Bredo

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