David Wright, McGill University
In 1973, the World Health Organization estimated that over 140,000 of the world’s physicians were practicing medicine in countries other than their native ones. One half of these ‘alien doctors’ were living in the United States, Canada and the United Kindom. While these three nations adopted different approaches to health insurance in the post-war years, the divergence in public policy masked a shared attribute of their respective health care systems – namely, the increasing reliance on graduates of foreign medical schools. The complexity and multi-directionality of medical migration vexed health policy experts who nonetheless bemoaned the growing exodus of doctors from the developing world. While this overall ‘Brain Drain’ was certainly in effect, contemporary politics – particularly American controversial participation in the Vietnam War – also shaped transnational medical migration. This paper examines one dimension of this transnational phenomenon: the migration of Canadian-based medical practitioners to the United States between 1961 and 1976. It draws upon a seven-year project of digitizing and analyzing the complete nominal entries of the Canadian Medical Directory (CMD) for the years 1961, 1966, 1971, and 1976 (132,000 entries in total). The CMD entries identify name, place of practice, and place of undergraduate medical education of all licensed practitioners in Canada; combined, they also reveal attrition – that is the disappearance of practitioners over time. By linking ‘missing’ practitioners with entries of the American Medical Directory one can gain an insight into the amplitude and geographical dispersion of medical migration from Canada to and from the United States during the period under question. One can also disaggregate the emigration of Canadian-trained practitioners from international medical graduates who had temporarily set up clinical practice in Canada, before re-migrating to the United States (and vice versa).
Presented in Session 252. The Economy and Markets of Migration Flows