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Updated inventory and projections for Canada's ophthalmology workforce

      Abstract

      Objective

      To update Canadian ophthalmology workforce data and provide future predictions.

      Design

      Cross-sectional study.

      Participants

      Ophthalmologists working in Canada from 1968 to 2019.

      Methods

      Supply and demographics of physicians in Canada were obtained from the Canadian Institute for Health Information. Physician training numbers were obtained from the Canadian Post-MD Education Registry. Using Statistic Canada population projections, future predictions about Canada's ophthalmology workforce were determined.

      Results

      In 2020, there were 1323 ophthalmologists in Canada; 27.3% were female and 20.9% were aged ≥65 years. Overall, there were 3.48 ophthalmologists per 100,000 population. Provincial distributions varied from 2.32 in Manitoba to 5.00 in Nova Scotia. For the population aged ≥65 years, there were 19.35 ophthalmologists per 100,000 population. If the yearly change in ophthalmologists’ numbers remains as during the past 10 years, the number of ophthalmologists per 100,000 population is predicted to be slightly reduced to 3.21 in 2068 in a high-growth scenario and increased to 4.08 and 5.08 in a medium- and low-growth scenario, respectively. For the population aged ≥65 years, corresponding predicted ratios are 14.00 in a high-growth scenario, 17.72 in a medium-growth scenario, and 18.40 in a low-growth scenario.

      Conclusions

      The ratio of ophthalmologists to population aged ≥65 years, the predominant cohort treated by ophthalmologists, is projected to drop by 4.9% and 27.7% in the low- and high-growth scenarios, respectively, potentially creating a challenge to vision care delivery. A small increase in ophthalmology residency positions could protect against this.
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