Saudi Ara­bia al­lows med­i­cal trainees...

The Miracle - - front page - Source: Globe and Mail

More than 1,000 Saudi Ara­bian med­i­cal grad­u­ates will be al­lowed to stay in Canada to com­plete their train­ing, a much­needed re­prieve for teach­ing hos­pi­tals that were un­sure how they would han­dle the sud­den and sig­nif­i­cant loss of staff. Thou­sands of other Saudi stu­dents study­ing at Cana­dian uni­ver­si­ties will, how­ever, still have to leave the coun­try. The 1,053 Saudi med­i­cal res­i­dents and fel­lows in Canada re­ceived an email late Mon­day af­ter­noon from the Saudi Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion “in­di­cat­ing that they may con­tinue in their po­si­tions un­til an al­ter­na­tive as­sign­ment is ar­ranged,” said Andrew Pad­mos, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Royal Col­lege of Physi­cians and Sur­geons of Canada. The king­dom ini­tially told the med­i­cal trainees to leave Canada by Aug. 31 be­cause of a diplo­matic dis­pute that erupted af­ter For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land pub­licly called on Saudi Ara­bia to re­lease jailed hu­man-rights ac­tivists. Last week, the dead­line was ex­tended to Sept. 22. Res­i­dency and trainee pro­grams be­gin ev­ery year on July 1, and those in the pro­grams must com­plete at least six months to be el­i­gi­ble to write ex­ams. While Mon­day’s e-mail stip­u­lates that the Saudi med­i­cal grad­u­ates are to re­main in Canada only un­til they can find al­ter­na­tive ar­range­ments in an­other coun­try, in re­al­ity many of them will likely be able to com­plete their train­ing here, said Paul-Émile Cloutier, pres­i­dent and CEO of HealthCareCAN, which rep­re­sents hos­pi­tals across the coun­try. For in­stance, some res­i­dents and fel­lows are en­ter­ing their last year of train­ing. For oth­ers, it could take sev­eral years be­fore they can find a train­ing spot in a for­eign city, which means they will end up fin­ish­ing in Canada. The de­vel­op­ment is good news for the Saudi med­i­cal grad­u­ates as well as the Cana­dian hos­pi­tals that rely on their ser­vice, Mr. Cloutier said. For decades, Canada has had a pro­gram un­der which the king­dom pays sub­stan­tial sums to al­low Saudi med­i­cal grad­u­ates to train at Cana­dian teach­ing hos­pi­tals. The doc­tors-in-train­ing gain valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence and pro­vide care to pa­tients in Canada. Or­der­ing the trainees out of Canada would have jeop­ar­dized their fu­ture ca­reers and forced hos­pi­tals to look for ways to fill the gaps left by their sud­den de­par­ture, Mr. Cloutier said.“The hos­pi­tals that have many of these trainees will con­tinue as is. You don’t have to scram­ble,” he said. Dr. Pad­mos said the big­gest ben­e­fi­cia­ries are the trainees them­selves, who risked hav­ing their ca­reers de­railed.“Saudi of­fi­cials are show­ing sup­port for their own trainees. I don’t think this im­plies they are re­treat­ing in any way,” Dr. Pad­mos said. “I also be­lieve this move cre­ates an op­por­tu­nity for the two sides to set­tle their dif­fer­ences,” he added. But some of the Saudi Ara­bian med­i­cal grad­u­ates have al­ready left Canada. It’s un­clear what will hap­pen in those cases, Mr. Cloutier said. It’s also un­clear whether Saudi res­i­dents and fel­lows sched­uled to start pro­grams in Canada this year will be able to, he added.

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