96 pct of trainee doctors, med students say admission quota should be slashed or maintained: poll

SEOUL, About 96 percent of trainee doctors and medical students believe that the admission quota of medical schools needs to be reduced or maintained given the current medical and educational circumstances, a poll showed Tuesday.

The result of the survey involving 12,774 intern and resident doctors and 18,348 medical school students conducted by a doctors’ entity runs counter to the government’s ongoing push to increase the quota by 2,000 starting next year to address problems stemming from a shortage of doctors.

The current quota is set at 3,058 seats.

The plan to increase admissions has led to the walkout by more than 90 percent of South Korea’s 13,000 trainee doctors since Feb. 20, causing serious health service disruptions.

According to the poll, 64.1 percent of the respondents called for the cut in the number of medical school students given the country’s medical system and educational circumstances, and 31.9 percent said the current number should be maintained.

A mere 4 percent of the respondents
voiced support for an increase.

Some 66.4 percent of the total said that they have an intention to undergo training courses as trainee doctors down the road, but a majority of them demanded that the government scrap the quota hike plan and raise fees for treatments in essential medical fields, such as high-risk surgeries, pediatrics, obstetrics and emergency medicine.

As major problems in the country’s medical system, more than 90 percent pointed to “unrealistically low” medical expenses and 80 percent cited “inhumane” conditions for trainee doctors.

“The survey well showed why the unfortunate incident of the day took place,” said Lim Hyun-taek, the head-elect of the Korea Medical Association (KMA), calling on the government to come up with solutions.

The government and doctors have been deadlocked over the plan.

During a televised address Monday, President Yoon Suk Yeol called on doctors to come up with a “unified proposal” on the appropriate admission increase, saying that the government will be open t
o talks though it believes a hike of 2,000 is the minimum.

In support of the junior doctors’ collective action, medical school professors nationwide began submitting their resignations.

The professors, who serve as senior doctors at major hospitals, have also reduced their weekly work hours to 52 hours by adjusting surgeries and other medical treatments and have vowed to minimize medical services for outpatients.

More than 10,349 medical school students have so far applied for a leave of absence to protest the government’s decision.

Source: Yonhap News Agency