The government is pushing to expand admission quotas at medical schools without any concrete, long-term strategy, an expert said.
Han Hee-chul, chairman of the board of directors of the Korean Association of Medical Colleges (KAMC), said physicians opposed the plan because the government did not present any roadmap to advance the healthcare industry. Under the law since 2000, the government must establish a healthcare development plan every five years. Still, Seoul has never done so, Han claimed.
|Han Hee-chul, chairman of the board of directors of the Korea Association of Medical Colleges, appeared on a YouTube show by The Korean Doctors’ Weekly on Friday to criticize the government’s plan to increase medical school admissions quotas.|
Han expressed his views on increasing doctors on a YouTube show, “Corona Fighters Live,” on Friday.
Increasing medical school admissions quotas will not lead to more doctors next year, Han noted. Even if medical schools accept more students in 2021, it will take at least 13 years for male students to practice medicine, given the time for obtaining medical license and specialist license, and serving three years as a public health doctor instead of joining the military, he said.
When the government had pushed for introducing the graduate medical school system in the mid-2000s, the medical community vehemently opposed the plan, Han went on to say.
Scores of medical colleges introduced the system in the late 2000s. Still, almost all of them, except for one graduate medical school, switched back to the previous medical college system, he said.
“When making a (healthcare) policy, the government should reflect the experts' opinions to reduce errors in the future,” Han said.
Even though Korea’s elderly population will grow with a rise in medical demand, the total population is expected to shrink after 2065, which is why the nation needs a careful approach to increasing doctors, he said.
“Even if an increased population of people aged 65 and more pushes up the medical service for the elderly, this will be a baby boom effect. From 2065, the population will start going down, and by around 2100, the population will be about 20 million,” Han said. “The use of healthcare services will also fall. So, we should reduce doctors 13 years before the population shrinks.”
Korea needs a body or a permanent committee to monitor and adjust the supply of medical professionals, he went on to say.
According to Han, the U.S. government supports trainee doctors' wages through insurance, and the Japanese government covers the expenses for two-year medical training after medical college graduation. “These nations genuinely care for raising doctors. But Korea does not have such a system,” he said.
Rather than opening a public health medical school, the government would do better to revise the medical education system to teach general medicine for six years, instead of two years for medicine and four years for general medicine, Han advised.
Then, the revised system will enhance education for public health and produce quality doctors, he said.
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