Strong First Step for Ontario’s Unmatched MD Grads

Apr 17, 2018
Heidi Singer

Students high five after graduating from the MD ProgramThe Ontario government, working with U of T’s Faculty of Medicine and other health leaders, has taken a strong first step to address the growing shortage of residency positions for medical school graduates. The province announced today it will create more residency spots this upcoming academic year for graduates who did not get a residency position in the current match. The goal is to offer a spot to all 53 currently unmatched Ontario medical students.

The province is investing up to $23 million over six years to create opportunities for these unmatched MD grads to train in family medicine, emergency medicine, internal medicine, paediatrics and psychiatry. Graduates in the new residency spots will be required to provide service after residency for two years in underserviced communities across the province - for instance, specific regions in Northern Ontario.

“By funding more residency opportunities in the province, our government is ensuring access to care in the areas where Ontarians need it most and supporting medical students in achieving their potential,” said Dr. Helena Jaczek, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. “This forward-looking investment is yet another way we are providing high-quality health care, closer to home.”

To become a practicing physician in Canada, medical school graduates must complete a residency program. At the end of their fourth year of “undergraduate” medical training, graduating students apply to a postgraduate residency program, such as family medicine, psychiatry or surgery. But due to cuts in residency spots, particularly in Ontario, the number of unmatched students has grown in recent years.

Although 92 per cent of graduating students at U of T matched to a residency position this year, longer-term plans are still needed to ensure Ontarians are well-served and medical students can effectively plan for their futures. U of T’s Dean of Medicine praised today’s announcement as an excellent first step.

“The Government of Ontario heard the voices of our medical students loud and clear – and we’re very pleased to see an immediate action plan in place for all unmatched students in Ontario,” said Professor Trevor Young, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Co-Chair of the Council of Ontario Faculties of Medicine. “We very much appreciate the support of Minister Jaczek and look forward to working collaboratively to create a sustainable long-term plan that meets the needs of patients of Ontario as well as our students.”

U of T medical students have been working hard with others across the province to raise awareness of the problem, with visits to Queen’s Park officials and ongoing advocacy. “We welcome this clear commitment to ensuring a residency spot for every graduating medical student in the province,” said Vivian Tam, of the Ontario Medical Students Association. “We look forward to further action to ensure our physician services planning system is robust, transparent, and based on patient need.”

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