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Even nation’s top hospitals experience physician shortage

Even nation’s top hospitals experience physician shortage

Posted June. 15, 2023 08:03,   

Updated June. 15, 2023 08:03


Seoul National University Hospital, one of the top five hospitals in South Korea, experienced a doctor shortage in ‘unpopular’ medical specialties, such as departments of surgery and emergency medicine last year. In Korea, internal medicine, surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, and pediatrics are known to be the least competitive specialties in medicine, and these are the least opted for by medical students. On the contrary, plastic surgery and dermatology have easily recruited doctors in just one or two rounds, showing a stark contrast.

According to data submitted by the SNU Hospital to Democratic Party lawmaker Kang Min-jung on Wednesday, the hospital posted a job opening 11 times for general surgery specialists. A medical specialist is one who is licensed to practice and has completed internship and residency training, and accepted a fellowship to continue to train for a specialty. The number of job postings for general surgery specialists was the most among a total of 24 specialties. Forty-eight applicants applied after 11 rounds of recruitment, two more than the initial quota, and 47 were hired.

The medical specialty that recorded the second highest number of recruitment was internal medicine, with nine rounds of recruitment. A total of 75 applicants applied, seven less than the initial quota of 82, and 72 were admitted. The Department of Emergency Medicine held eight rounds of recruitment, with only 11 applicants applying for the position, far less than the initial quota of 24, and 10 were hired. It means only less than a half of the doctors were hired.

Other unpopular medical specialties experienced a similar shortage. Cardiology, obstetrics and gynecology, and pediatrics held five recruitment rounds, respectively.

On the contrary, the Plastic Surgery Department met its initial quota of four in just one round. The Dermatology Department also met its quota of three in just two rounds. Processor Nah Baek-joo of the University of Seoul Graduate School of Urban Health said the more skewed medical specialists to one discipline, the higher risk to public health and lives due to a dire physician shortage in essential medicine.