“Expending Medical School Seats” Is Making Headlines In South Korea

The Issue Of Medical School Expansion Is One Of The Biggest Ussues In Korea

It’s a really complex issue and there are a lot of opinions, but here are some key points and the problems.

  • “I have to wait more than 2 hours to see a pediatrician…
  • “I can’t believe I have to wait over an hour at any hospital.”
  • “The emergency room is full and you can’t get in even when you are in real emergency!”

The South Korean Government Has Announced The Expansion Of Medical Schools From 2025. But Why?

Some of the problems include:

  • Increasing closure of pediatric clinics.
  • Shortage of emergency room doctors due to avoidance of essential medical specialties, resulting in patient deaths
  • Rural residents’ needs to travel to Seoul for medical treatment.

This is why the government has come up with the idea of expanding medical schools. This was also discussed in 2020, but the backlash was severe, with doctors resigning.

Why Do Many Doctors Oppose Increasing Medical School Seats?

The current avoidance of being essential medical specailities cannot be solved by increasing the number of medical school seats, but rather by understanding why doctors do not want to pursue essential medical specailists.
They say the risk of litigation following medical errors needs to be improved. No doctor wants to be criminally penalized when something bad happens despite their best efforts.
The second is “normalization of medical reimbursement.” There are many business problems due to low medical fees, so no doctors want to work in pediatrics. Many people would rather open a private plastic surgery practice for cosmetic purposes than become a surgeon who saves lives.

Increasing medical costs isn’t the only issue; we need to overhaul the entire healthcare system and expand the physician workforce to solve the problem.

According to a Mail Business Daily research study, 71% of South Koreans are in favor of expanding medical school seats.

Some argue that this is because South Korean government has created a structure that makes it easier for “cosmetic doctors” to make money, and that specialists who perform difficult surgeries and necessary medical care are underpaid. However, treating them better would mean increasing the cost to the public.

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