Objective: To document a decrease in the supply of family physicians (FPs) and general practitioners among Canadian graduates of medical schools since rotating internships ceased to serve as a route to national licensure.
Design: Review of data from the Association of Canadian Medical Colleges, the Canadian Post-M.D. Education Registry, and the Canadian Institute for Health Information to track final training fields and eventual types of practice of graduates of Canadian faculties of medicine from 1987 to 1997.
Setting: Canadian faculties of medicine and residency training programs.
Main outcome measures: Number of Canadian medical graduates entering family medicine training programs from 1991 to 1998, number of Canadian graduate physicians exiting from these training programs, and proportion of each graduating class (1987 to 1994) practising as FPs or GPs in Canada in 1997.
Results: In 1993, 890 physicians (51% of graduates) were trained as FPs or GPs. By 1994, although the proportion remained at 40%, the number of Canadian graduates entering family medicine had dropped to 646, and by 1998, to 619.
Conclusions: A deficit of FPs is already noticeable in the practice environment. For the way in which medical care is delivered in Canada, with FPs serving as first contact for patients, the authors conclude that the number of graduating FPs in Canada will not be sufficient to provide the primary care services Canadians need.