About the CFMSThe CFMS is an organization representing over 8,000 medical students from 15 Canadian medical student societies from coast to coast. We represent medical students to the public, to the federal government, and to national and international medical organizations.
The Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS) calls upon the members and Board of Directors at the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) to halt the implementation of the 3rd year in family practice program. In light of the upcoming vote at the CPFC Annual Members Meeting on November 1, 2023, we join with many other voices from across the country to implore members to vote in favour for the suspension and review of this program.
The CFMS represents over 9,000 medical students from 15 medical schools across the country and are deeply committed to promoting Family Medicine as a rewarding and diverse specialty. However, given the current primary care crisis, now is not the time to prolong the length of training for our future physicians. Such a decision would not only delay the entrance of much needed new family doctors into the workforce, but would also, based on consultation with our membership, dissuade even more medical students from choosing the specialty. This will only exacerbate the trend within the past decade of less and less medical school graduates ranking Family Medicine as their first choice in practice. The logistical burden that would be placed on Family Medicine preceptors to supervise, evaluate, and administrate an additional year of trainees is a further counterproductive consequence, especially when studies have shown that a driving factor of the current crisis is physician burnout.
We additionally call upon the CFPC to engage with their stakeholders in conducting a more thorough evaluation of the necessity and consequences of this decision. As of yet, we at the CFMS are unconvinced by several of the rationale provided in the CFPC Outcomes of Training Project (OTP) Report. A lack of preparedness and confidence amongst graduates was one reason cited for extending training length, though no comprehensive evaluation of residents and early career physicians have yet been done to provide quantitative evidence that this is indeed the majority sentiment. Furthermore, the fact that Canada’s program is one of the shortest in the world is another commonly raised argument, though no further elaboration has been provided on how other countries’ experiences would specifically be applicable to Canada’s unique health context. The CFMS thus believes that additional review is needed before such a drastic decision is made.
Overall, while we at the CFMS wholeheartedly support and praise the CFPC’s efforts to engage in curricular review and transformation, we do not believe that extension of training is the right response to the current state of practice. It is change at the systems level that needs to be addressed first, including compensation, administrative burden, physician burnout, and professional perceptions within the field.
We would like to work with you in addressing these issues and discuss alternative options to achieving all of our shared desired outcomes.
The Canadian Federation of Medical Students