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Whipped doctors

Posted October. 27, 2017 08:49,   

Updated October. 27, 2017 09:34


Among the hundreds of TV dramas produced over the last two decades, hardly has any drama featuring doctors failed to succeed in Korea. Such success was nicknamed as the invincibility of medical dramas. After the 2007 drama “Beyond the White Tower” creating a milestone in the genre, the 2013 drama “Good Doctor,” based on a story of an autistic doctor, was received so well that its scenario was sold to the United States. The popularity is similar in the United States, where medical dramas such as “Grey’s Anatomy” and “House” have been leading fandoms. The reason why medical dramas are so popular is probably due to the dramatic factors associated with the location where their story takes place: the hospital.

The story of attractive male and female characters agonizing to bring patients back to life is always appealing. In real life in Korea, however, after going through the heavy competition to go to medical school and years of training that precede, many resident doctors suffer from physical assaults by their professors in front of their patients. In March 2017, a number of resident doctors at the Department of Cosmetic Surgery at the Hanyang University Hospital walked away from their workplace after being beaten by a professor. But the recent assaults performed by a professor at Busan University Hospital, as revealed by the parliamentary inspection of the state, go way too far.

The professor in question used his fists, baseballs, surgery instruments and dummies to attack 11 resident doctors. The assault took place not only in surgery rooms, but also at restaurants and on the streets. “All the blame was taken on the resident doctors when the patient’s situation deteriorated. They were also hit when work was not performed properly. The violence was so preval‎ent that the reasons for the attacks are unclear,” said Jeong Jae-beom, the labor union leader at the Busan University Hospital. Resident doctors did not dare to protest, even if their eardrums were ruptured, or if they were suffering from bruises, because professors were in dominant positions that could influence their future.

The reason why the surgery department still remains violent is apparently due to the high level of anxiety that precedes emergency surgery, the hierarchical culture and apprentice-style training. What is even more serious is that the doctors who wield the violence are not even aware of the gravity of the issue, as they have become so accustomed to this culture ever since they were trained. Such repulsive behavior adds gravity to a situation where the number of surgeons is severely lacking. Who would opt to become a surgeon if one had to go through such a savage training? It is deplorable to witness such barbaric behavior in an elite profession admired by many.