PEI medical students oppose province's proposed "return of service" plan

February 22, 2012

Prince Edward Island's proposal to make it mandatory for medical students from the Island to practise at least 3 years in the province is prompting outrage from student organizations and raising questions about freedom of mobility for graduates whose education is subsidized by taxpayers. Without its own medical school, PEI funds undergraduate spaces at outside institutions for its residents -- who still must pay regular tuition fees -- but says graduates from the Island usually end up working elsewhere. The proposed policy appears "crude and coercive," wrote 3 students in the Medical Society of PEI's newsletter. No other province has adopted such a policy, and it would ultimately backfire, says the VP of the Canadian Federation of Medical Students. The University of Saskatchewan's dean of medicine, who supports PEI's idea, says medical schools exist in part to allow qualified people to achieve their ambitions, but also to fulfil the public good of supplying doctors to a jurisdiction. "Sometimes you have to explain to medical students: 'You pay tuition but that tuition is only a fraction of what it costs to educate you. The taxpayers of Saskatchewan are paying 10 times what you’re paying in order for you to be trained'," the dean says. "The taxpayers have a certain expectation on their return in investment." National Post