An amusing incident (but not for my sister!).
A couple of weeks ago, my sister was at a community affair in the province where I spent the large part of my professional life practicing. She was approached by a neurosurgeon who had been a colleague and something of a friend years ago.
"Sorry to hear of Stan's passing away," he said .
My poor sister almost passed away. As she related the story, after the panic attack subsided and she realized I could hardly have passed on without her having heard about it, she informed him that I was alive and well. He was somewhat embarrassed to hear this!
What had transpired was this. This man had worked with a colleague and me in putting together a neurosciences program for Family Medicine residents and we had worked together as a threesome for a considerable period of time. Unfortunately, the other Family Doc, Mike Spooner had recently passed away and the neurosurgeon had thought it was me.
I instructed my sister that the next time she saw this man she was to inform him, in the immortal words of Mark Twain, "rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated!".
I recently had an echocardiogram (an ultrasound of the heart). The echocardiography technician was a middle-aged Chinese gentleman and it was soon apparent in the course of our conversation that he was very knowledgeable regarding cardiology and medicine in general. I commented on this and he replied, "I was a specialist in cardiology in China, but couldn't get a license to practice in Canada."
"Surely," said I,"you could have studied and passed your specialty exams in Canada?"
"I did," he said, "but while I was trying to get a residency position in Cardiology, a research fellowship came up in the States and I made the mistake of taking it. It turned out to last for a few years and when I came back to Canada, I was told there was no way I could get a residency spot although I had passed the Fellowship exams. I was eligible for such a spot before I went to the U.S. but I was told the situation had changed and I was no longer eligible. I was able to get licensed as a electrocardiography technician and have been doing that ever since. I still think about going back to China and practicing cardiology."
I have had some experience in organizing health care in rural Saskatchewan. There are places in Canada where they would sell their souls to have the services of a cardiologist, so if this man's qualifications are in order, it is difficult to understand why there isn't a position available for him.
But of course it facilitates the rationing of health care by just not having the service available.