BACKGROUND: Many gastroenterology (GI) trainees face a variety of barriers to stable employment and are finding it increasingly difficult to secure employment in their chosen field.
OBJECTIVE: To elucidate factors that contribute to the burden of unemployment and underemployment, and to examine solutions that may remedy this growing problem in the field of GI.
METHODS: A nationwide survey of current, incoming and recently graduated individuals of GI training programs in Canada was conducted. Trainees in pediatric GI programs and those enrolled in sub-specialty programs within GI were also included.
RESULTS: The response rate was 62%, with 93% of respondents enrolled in an adult GI training program. Many (73%) respondents planned to pursue further subspecialty training and the majority (53%) reported concerns regarding job security after graduation as contributory factors. Only 35% of respondents were confident that they would secure employment within six months of completing their training. Regarding barriers to employment, the most cited perceived reasons were lack of funding (both from hospitals and provincial governments) and senior physicians who continue to practice beyond retirement years. Sixty-nine per cent perceived a greater need for career guidance and 49% believed there were too many GI trainees relative to the current job market in their area. Most residents had a contingency plan if they remained unemployed >18 months, which often included moving to another province or to the United States.
CONCLUSION: GI trainees throughout Canada reported substantial concerns about securing employment, citing national retirement trends and lack of funding as primary barriers to employment. Although these issues are not easily modifiable, certain problems should be targeted including optimizing training quotas, tailoring career guidance to the needs of the population, and emphasizing credentialing and quality control in endoscopy.