We have devoted much of this issue to frontline heroes. We owe them so much in this crisis. To borrow from Churchill, “So many owe so much to so few.” But there are also heroes who are aching to serve. And one of them has had the courage not only to stand up and say “If you call us we will come,” but to make us see what can be improved in our system of health care not just in a crisis but for each and every day.
We have a chronic shortage of doctors. Just to maintain our current insufficient levels, Canada needs to graduate — and keep — 2500 a year. We are averaging a retention rate of 2200. There are thousands of Canadians who have graduated from world class medical schools in other countries. These IMGs (International Medical Graduates) face almost insurmountable odds in being matched to Canadian hospitals because the medical establishment keeps a tight lock on who is allowed to practice.
Over the years I have advocated for several International Medical Graduates. But our medical establishment is not easy. In the midst of this emergency a compelling and brilliant doctor who is looking for a way to the frontlines took to social media to make her plea that she and her colleagues be allowed to help. “If you call us we will come,” is Dr. Nofar Kimchi’s passionate plea. Her video, which can be seen on The Suburban’s Facebook page and website, has been viewed by thousands.
Nofar is a Montrealer who received her undergraduate degree at McGill and her medical degree at the Technion, Israel’s MIT.
She returned home almost a year ago and is still trying to be matched to a hospital.
Our doctor shortage is felt now more than ever. As we battle the Coronavirus, we repeatedly hear that we need “all hands on deck.” Nofar makes the case for bringing IMGs on board now.
“These are Canadians who want to complete residency and serve in Canada. IMGs are also unique in that when we are taken into the system, we sign a return of service contract. “ This contract means that following residency, they are required to work in a remote area that needs physicians.
In 2019, 2540 IMGs applied to the Canadian Match service known as CarMS. However, only 127 were placed. As the Coronavirus continues to spread, IMGs want to work and help in the fight against it. Places like Italy and Israel have understood the urgency by opening more residency spots and enlisting this year’s medical graduates in dealing with the current pandemic.
“Canadian IMGs want to do the same. In addition to calling on retired physicians, we should be called in as well. Moreover, we want to stay in the system and complete our training here so that we can help reduce the physician shortage long term,” Nofar adds. She makes a compelling argument. As she put it so succinctly, “We’ve done heroic things in medicine abroad. Give us a chance to be heroic at home. We’ll make you proud.”