Medical staffing in Ontario neonatal intensive care units.
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Advances in technology have improved the survival rates of infants of low birth weight. Increasing service commitments together with cutbacks in Canadian training positions have caused concerns about medical staffing in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) in Ontario. To determine whether an imbalance exists between the supply of medical personnel and the demand for health care services, in July 1985 we surveyed the medical directors, head nurses and staff physicians of nine tertiary level NICUs and the directors of five postgraduate pediatric residency programs. On the basis of current guidelines recommending an ideal neonatologist:patient ratio of 1:6 (assuming an adequate number of support personnel) most of the NICUs were understaffed. Concern about the heavy work pattern and resulting lifestyle implications has made Canadian graduates reluctant to enter this subspecialty. We propose strategies to correct staffing shortages in the context of rapidly increasing workloads resulting from a continuing cutback of pediatric residency positions and restrictions on immigration of foreign trainees.
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