Controversy Over Expanding the Medical Student Quota
Controversy Over Expanding the Medical Student Quota
  • Reporter Jeong Ye-ji
  • 승인 2023.06.15 08:56
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▲Increasing the quota of Medical College / Depositphotos
▲Increasing the quota of Medical College / Depositphotos

  More and more hospitals are unable to operate emergency rooms or patients are no longer hospitalized because there are no doctors in charge of pediatrics. Furthermore, it is not just about pediatrics. Obstetrics, gynecology and surgery are representative majors that doctors avoid, as the phenomenon of a concentration on dermatology and plastic surgery continues. 
  South Korea’s average number of doctors for 1,000 patients is 2.1 which is just 56% of the OECD average. There is also a significant difference between Seoul and other regions. Since people have a hard time meeting doctors in their region, many patients come to Seoul for treatment. At Seoul National University Hospital, outpatient treatment takes around five minutes on average. Patients are dissatisfied since the treatment time is short, compared with the amount of time they waited.
  In order to solve the problem of chronic medical major concentration and regional gaps, the government announced it would push for a plan to increase the number of medical schools. While the number of nursing colleges has doubled, the number of freshmen at medical schools has been frozen at 3058 students per year since 2006. Regarding the solution offered from the government, the Korean Medical Association says the expansion would do nothing to solve the phenomenon. Two years ago, the Moon Jae-in government tried to expand the medical school’s quota; however, it was suspended due to opposition from the medical community. At that time, medical doctors went on strike and students even refused to take the national exam. What makes doctors so opposed to this?
  There are mainly two reasons. First, it is argued that the medical quality offered would be poor because it becomes more saturated only with popular majors and the avoidance of less preferred majors would not be solved. Therefore, hiring more doctors would only increase the focus on the metropolitan area. On top of that, there is also a problem of the population declining in the long run, and as the population decreases the number of patients would decrease, which could lead to fiercer competition.  
  Doctors argue that the issue should be resolved by ensuring better compensation for the less preferred majors and solving the serious problem of surgeons taking complete responsibility in cases where something goes wrong.  
  Still, the government’s push to expand the number of medical students continues. In South Korea, the longingness for medical school is rising profoundly, and it is expected to go even higher. Although it has not been completely decided yet, currently we should wait and see.