Phantoms in the snow – ctd.

Longtime reader of the blog, Steve, reminds me of another pervasive myth of border-crossing medicine.  It’s the idea that docs are flocking from Canada in order to work in more hospitable climates.  Like here.  The idea is that doctors are so fed up in Canada, they are leaving in droves.  You can’t imagine how many people I’ve talked to who claim to know such a doctor.

It is true that years ago there was a net influx of docs into the US from Canada.  But it was never in the numbers that you would think.  As always, with these kinds of things, actual data can be found.  In fact, the Canadian Institute for Health Information was measuring movement of doctors across the border:

In the mid-1990s, the number leaving for the U.S. spiked at about 400 to 500 a year. However, in recent years, this number has declined, with only 169 physicians leaving for the States in 2003; 138 in 2004; and 122 in each of 2005 and 2006. These numbers represent less than half a percent of all doctors working in Canada.

It gets better.  Check out this chart:

The important line to watch is the yellow one, which is the net loss of docs to Canada.  Even in the worst year, fewer than 500 more docs moved out of Canada than moved in.  But, since 2003, there has been a net movement of docs into Canada.

Docs are not fed up with Canada and moving away.  If anything, it’s the opposite.

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