Doctor applauds incentives to return to B.C. from U.S.

Madhur Kuckreja says he was close to moving to Seattle after frustrating attempts to get a license in British Columbia

A Canadian doctor practicing near Boston who sounded the alarm this summer about obstacles he faced trying to return to practice in Victoria says he’s excited about the province’s plans to ease the path for medical graduates and to international doctors.

Madhur Kuckreja, 33, an internal medicine physician practicing in Brockton, Massachusetts, trained at St. George’s University, an international medical school in the Caribbean, before completing a residency at Georgetown Hospital in Washington, D.C.

He recently acquired a license from Washington State with the idea of ​​moving to Seattle to be closer to his hometown of Victoria, after efforts to obtain a license in British Columbia seemed out of reach and expensive. Now he is looking at his options.

Kuckreja, reached by phone, called the changes announced Sunday by British Columbia Premier David Eby “good news.”

“It’s crazy all the changes they’re making,” Kuckreja said. “I am very optimistic but cautious.”

For medical graduates and physicians working outside of Canada, the new incentive package includes tripling the number of practice readiness assessment places – the route for internationally trained graduates to obtain a work permit in British Columbia – to 96 by March 2024.

Internationally trained graduates who are not yet eligible for licensure in British Columbia will also be able to work under supervision as “associate physicians” in acute and primary care settings.

The province is working with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and the College of Family Physicians of Canada to allow graduates to begin the accreditation process before arriving in British Columbia.

And the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia is developing new regulations in the coming weeks to allow doctors trained for three years in the United States to practice in community clinics and family practices.

The goal is to have these US-trained physicians practicing in British Columbia by January.

Kuckreja thinks he falls under the hood for US-trained physicians because he did his residency in the US and is certified there. “I will definitely apply for a medical license in BC and see what the process looks like,” he said. “To be honest, I didn’t see this thing coming, so my plan was to move to Washington State and be at least pretty close to home. But let’s see what happens now.

Krukreja said fellow Canadian doctors in the United States are also excited about the news from British Columbia. “I think there’s a lot of interest.”

Born in India, Kuckreja moved to Victoria at the age of eight, attending Quadra Elementary, Cedar Hill Middle School and Mount Doug High School. His parents and sister still live here.

“I visit Victoria two or three times a year – I always call her home,” he said.

Kuckreja earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Victoria, but didn’t get into UBC medical school — “my dream school” — on the first try . After watching colleagues try for years, he didn’t want to wait to apply again and turned to his backup plan: the Caribbean School.

Reading the news of the shortage of doctors here, Kuckreja thought it was time to return home to be closer to his family.

But his application for a medical license in British Columbia was denied and he was told he needed another full year of training and to pass several exams, including the Medical Council of Canada qualifying exam, d worth $1,375.

Kuckreja, who works at the Brockton Neighborhood Health Center, said he was already good at his job. He went to med school, finished his fellowship “and after that we’re asked to do more training?” It’s frustrating, he says.

After so much study, many doctors are looking to put down roots and start a family, he said.

BC needs additional training because Kuckreja was trained in internal medicine, which requires a three-year residency in the United States and a four-year residency in Canada.

“I was trained in the United States. I’m board-certified in internal medicine in the United States. I have no blemishes on my record,” Kuckreja said. “It should be a lot easier for us to come back without jumping through all those hoops.”

When he returned home to Victoria last summer, he was surprised to hear so many people complaining about not having a family doctor. It is estimated that one million people in British Columbia do not have a family doctor, including about 100,000 in the south of the island.

“Everybody you talk to in Victoria says the same thing,” Kuckreja said. “And at the same time, when I tried to apply for my medical license, I was told, ‘You have to do another year of training,’ which frustrated me, so I’m really glad the province take it seriously.”

Aly Husein, who also did his undergraduate education in British Columbia and attended medical school in the Caribbean, also tried unsuccessfully to return to British Columbia. For Husein, the news of the changes to come for internationally educated graduates was bittersweet.

“I signed in the United States for three years before any of this was mentioned,” he said via email. “A lot of us did.”

While the changes announced on Sunday are promising, he added, prohibitive fees remain. “The fees are still in the thousands to apply and recover.”

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