Aspiring Doctors Unstoppably Drawn to Seoul

December 05, 2023 08:44
Almost half of all graduates of medical schools outside of the Seoul metropolitan region end up getting internship positions in the capital area, which exacerbates the shortage of doctors in the provinces.According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, 46.7 percent of the 19,408 students who graduated from medical schools in the provinces between 2014 and 2023 interned at hospitals in the greater Seoul area.For medical graduates from North Gyeongsang Province, the figure was 90 percent because there are no major hospitals in the province that could further a doctor's career.Emergency patients there have to travel on average 15 km to get medical care, the longest distance in the country. This has triggered a vicious cycle where patients also gravitate to Seoul and leave even fewer opportunities for doctors. 
Gangwon Province is next in the dearth of opportunities, with 69.2 percent of regional graduates leaving for internships in the capital region, followed by North Chungcheong Province with 65.9 percent, South Chungcheong Province with 62.8 percent, Gwangju with 52 percent and North Jeolla Province with 50.4 percent.That contrasts with just 2.6 percent of medical graduates in Seoul, Gyeonggi Province and Incheon going anywhere else.A student at one provincial medical school said, "Many of my friends believe they will have a better chance of finding a job in a good hospital if they intern in well-known hospitals in the greater Seoul area." Minjoo Party lawmaker Shin Hyun-young said, "In order to establish a virtuous cycle of graduates from the provinces getting training and practicing medicine in their own regions, we need to increase the chances of local residents being admitted to medical school in the first place and improve the medical infrastructure in the provinces."  

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