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Senior doctors in South Korea submit resignations, deepening dispute over medical school plan Senior doctors in South Korea submit resignations, deepening dispute over medical school plan

The move comes after President Yoon Suk Yeol called for talks with doctors while suggesting a possible softening of punitive steps against the striking junior doctors.

Senior doctors in South Korea submit resignations, deepening dispute over medical school plan

Senior doctors at major hospitals in South Korea began submitting their resignations en masse Monday in support of medical interns and residents who have been on a strike for five weeks over the government’s push to sharply increase medical school admissions.

The senior doctors’ action won’t likely cause an immediate worsening of hospital operations in South Korea because they have said they would continue to work even after submitting their resignations. But prospects for an early end to the medical impasse were also dim, as the doctors’ planned action comes after President Yoon Suk Yeol called for talks with doctors while suggesting a possible softening of punitive steps against the striking junior doctors.

About 12,000 interns and medical residents have faced impending suspensions of their licenses over their refusal to end their strikes, which have caused hundreds of cancelled surgeries and other treatments at their hospitals.

They oppose the government’s plan to increase the country’s medical school admission cap by two-thirds, saying schools can’t handle such a steep increase in students and that it would eventually hurt South Korea’s medical services. But officials say more doctors are urgently needed because South Korea has a rapidly aging population and its doctor-to-population ratio is one of the lowest in the developed world.


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  • To everybody new to this topic, the doctors aren’t the good guys in this battle. They want to keep their wages up by limiting competition, while the country is suffering under a severe supply shortage already.

    • Agreed. Here's some more context:

      Korea has the second-lowest number of physicians among members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, leading to some of the highest doctors' wages among surveyed member nations.

      Doctors in Korea earn the most among 28 member countries that provided related data. Following Korea, the highest earners are in the Netherlands, Germany, Ireland and the UK. The US was among the countries for which data was not provided.

      Measured by PPP, which takes into account local living costs, salaried specialists earned an average of $192,749 annually in 2020, According to the 2023 OECD Health Statistics report. That was 60 percent more than the OECD average. Korean GP salaries ranked sixth.

      ... The country also ranked low in the number of medical school graduates -- 7.3 per 100,000 people, which is the third-lowest after Israel and Japan, and nearly half the OCED average of 14 graduates for every 100,000 people.

    • there's a bit more minutiae to it. doctors across the board there are concerned that they're increasing intern Dr headcounts while having no solid plan to support that financially. while at the same time, care to patients in Korea (a place known for having advanced healthcare from elite doctors) is already declining due lack of funding. intern doctors across the world are already underpaid as a unit as a whole, so intern doctors would probably just rather see their pays increase than have headcount increases. and senior doctors would rather just see their interns have better lives. so I wouldn't say the doctors are the bad guys necessarily either. they have legitimate concerns and government has been wagging them for years now too.

      the Korean media has largely portrayed this as greed or that the medical students being salty they studied their asses off to get into med school, but that's not the largest issue for the medical workers in korea (although it is also a part of it too). the general public would just love available, cheaper healthcare and increasing headcount sounds like the easiest way to do that (which it is), so the tune the media is putting out sounds pretty nice.

      this system happens here in the US too. the US medical system does not churn out enough people for required positions, and interns here are getting destroyed as a result of policy. I'm almost positive if the US did something similar, US doctors would react the same way.