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Doctors, nurses eye overseas jobs amid ongoing quota dispute

Medical workers walk down a corridor at a university hospital in Seoul, March 26. Yonhap

Since the government announced its plan to increase the annual quota of medical school admissions by 2,000, there has been a significant rise in the number of medical students considering overseas training. Simultaneously, the number of nurses contemplating working abroad has also surged due to the prolonged medical strike and skepticism regarding the treatment they receive as employees.According to a survey of 859 medical students nationwide conducted by the medical student group “To Be Doctor,” the desire among medical students to undergo training overseas has expanded rapidly.Before the government’s announcement, only 1.9 percent of medical students expressed interest in overseas training. However, this figure skyrocketed to 41.3 percent after the government announced its plan to expand medical schools’ admissions quota.Among the countries considered for overseas training, the United States ranks the highest at 67.1 percent, followed by Japan at 24.7 percent.The primary reason medical students cite for considering training abroad is their negative perception of the Korean medical environment. Students expect better treatment and appropriate compensation if they choose overseas training. According to the health ministry, Tuesday, about 10 percent of the 2,687 new doctors who were supposed to start internships this year had registered with the Council for Graduate Medical Training as of the previous day amid the protracted walkout. The rest refused to accept internships.Furthermore, the extended medical strike has also led nurses to consider working abroad.The absence of trainee doctors in hospitals has increased the workload for nurses, fueling their skepticism about the treatment of nurses in Korean society.Nurses are now handling medical duties of trainee doctors that were previously deemed to encroach upon the realm of physician licensure during disputes surrounding the enactment of the Nursing Law last year.

“Considering the government guidelines that seem to shift arbitrarily, I would prefer to explore opportunities abroad rather than continuing to work here,” said a nurse surnamed Lee, who is working at Severance Hospital, one of the so-called big five hospitals in Korea.This trend is also reflected in the statistics of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), which oversees nursing qualification testing in the U.S.According to the NCSBN, the number of Koreans taking qualification tests increased by 81.7 percent from 1,816 in 2022 to 3,299 in 2023. This is compared to less than 650 in 2021.“I had thoughts of emigrating to the U.S. in the past, but in the wake of this strike, I’ve seriously upped my preparations to depart for the U.S. because of the treatment of nurses here,” said a nursing student surnamed Cho.Furthermore, many nurses are preparing to seek work in Australia, where licensing processes for overseas medical professionals have been simplified, making it simpler than in the past to convert a Korean nursing license to an Australian license.Meanwhile, the divide between the medical sector and the government regarding the expansion of the quota is not narrowing.Approximately 96 percent of doctors and medical students believe that the number of admissions to medical schools should either be maintained at its current level or increased at a slower pace than 2,000 in one year, still opposing the government’s decision.In an online poll conducted among Korean trainee doctors and medical students from Friday to Monday, 64.1 percent of 1,581 respondents advocated for a smaller hike to the medical school quota, citing concerns about the realities of medical care and the educational environment in Korea.Additionally, 31.9 percent suggested maintaining the existing quota of 3,058 people, while only 4 percent were in favor of the government’s figure of 2,000 more slots.Lim Hyun-taek, the president-elect of the Korean Medical Association (KMA), emphasized the importance of addressing the concerns of young doctors and 카지노사이트킹 medical students, stating that solutions must be devised to fully reflect their voices.

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