I Sent My Medical License Application to Canada.


A surveyor came to the door.

The design of the questions was poor

Doctors’ treatment gets worse

Regulation’s a curse!

And the EMR is a chore.

Synopsis: I’m a Family Practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa. In 2010 I danced back from the brink of burnout, and honoring a 1 year non-compete clause, travelled and worked in out-of-the-way places in Alaska, Nebraska, Iowa, and New Zealand. After three years working with a Community Health Center, I am back having adventures in temporary positions until they have an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system I can get along with. I spent the winter in Nome, Alaska, followed by assignments in rural Iowa. This summer included a funeral, a bicycle tour in Michigan, cherry picking in Iowa, a medical conference in Denver, and two weeks a month working Urgent Care in suburban Pennsylvania. Any patient information has been included with permission.

After wrestling with a recalcitrant, truculent printer, I put together a packet to go to PhysiciansApply, a Canadian agency that helps doctors put their credentials into one central place in the system, so that the various provincial licensing boards can access them.

They wanted: notarized copy of passport, a copy of my American Board of Family Practice certificate, a copy of my residency certificate, a copy of my medical school diploma, a copy of my Iowa medical license, and a Certification of Identity.  This last form required 2 passport pictures less than six months old and a Notary stamp.

I understand the need for these documents, especially, from the Canadian point of view, because I’m an International Medical Graduate.  I hope they go through a thorough verification process.

Luckily I live in a small town, where I can get passport pictures at a nearby drugstore and my next door neighbor has a notary credential.

I sent the packet via FedEx.  I have only sent things internationally once before, when I went through a similar procedure for New Zealand 5 years ago.  I had never considered the importance of declaring contents for the purpose of customs.

A survey taker came about two hours later to ask loaded questions about the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.  He carried an electronic device.  I sat on the glider on the front porch and leveled with him.  In my experience, every time the taxpayers squawk loud enough, the kleptocrats cut meat from the program rather than fat, so that the taxpayers complain louder, the program gets expanded, and the taxes go up.  I think our government spends too much and spends foolishly (and a lot of that has to do with health care).  But I think we should tax the wealthy more and not tax the poor at all.

I also told him about my experience in Denver, talking to doctors at the breaking point.  The Electronic Medical Records keep getting worse, paperwork requirements keep getting worse, reimbursements keep going down, and the ACA failed to bring in tort reform.  I talked about my fears that our medical capital, our primary care physicians, will start leaving the country.  Already, Canada offers better incomes and more protection from medical malpractice suits than the US.  New Zealand has a polite society, a great EMR and no medical malpractice at all (no tort law, for that matter), a lower income for doctors who have found a good work/life balance.  Australia doctors work hard, bill fee-for-service, and make more than American doctors.

And then I told him I had, that very day, sent my application to Canada for a medical license.

I didn’t tell him I had no intention of moving there.  I want to try the system out, and write about it, honestly.

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