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Residents call for abolishing the plan to increase medical student admissions

Residents call for abolishing the plan to increase medical student admissions

Posted February. 22, 2024 08:01,   

Updated February. 22, 2024 08:01


Residents (interns, residents) who protested the government's expansion of medical school admissions quota have initiated collective action by issuing a statement outlining seven demands, including the complete cancellation of the increase in the number of students by 2,000 and the withdrawal of the order to commence work. However, they did not disclose future action plans, such as the duration of their refusal to provide treatment.

The Korea Interns and Residents Association (KIRA), a group representing residents, released a statement late at night, disclosing the real names of 82 representatives from various hospitals. This action followed an extraordinary general meeting of representatives on Tuesday, where they asserted, "The government must retract its misguided policy and cease undemocratic oppression." Individuals who were initially cautious due to the government's order prohibiting collective action and had characterized their resignations and work withdrawals as 'individual actions' have now embarked on full-scale collective action.

They labeled the government's decision to increase the number of students by 2,000 as "an absurd number" and contended that the government introduced a drastic policy to expand the count of medical school students for political gain. "It restricts the provision of optimal medical treatment," they said. "Addressing the issues of low cost and medical litigation is imperative before any meaningful change can occur, even with an increased number of doctors."

The organization has requested the government to establish an organization dedicated to estimating the supply and demand of doctors. Additionally, they have called for the withdrawal of unfair orders that intimidate residents, along with a formal apology. Moreover, they advocate for improvements in the training environment for residents, specifically reducing working hours to under 80 per week.

As of 10 p.m. on Tuesday, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, 7,813 residents, constituting 63.1% of residents at 100 major teaching hospitals, had ceased working. The number of residents who submitted letters of resignation totaled 8,816, accounting for 71.2%. Subsequently, the Ministry of Health and Welfare issued an order for 6,228 individuals who had stopped working at hospitals to return, and 2,851 people, equivalent to 45% of them, complied with the order and resumed work.

Nevertheless, there are reports that certain residents are feigning work during government on-site inspections by briefly stopping at the hospital, accessing the computer network, and only issuing simple medical prescriptions. A major hospital in the metropolitan area even advised residents to remain close to the hospital since an on-site inspection by the Ministry of Health and Welfare was scheduled. This precautionary measure aimed to ensure residents could respond promptly to potential random contacts during the inspection to avoid any disadvantage. Considering these practices of feigning work and strategic departures, the actual rate of hospital departures may surpass the figures officially announced by the government. Furthermore, a considerable number of individuals who returned after receiving orders to resume work are reportedly not actively engaged in medical duties, thereby creating a gap in medical care.

"Many professors are hesitant to sign a non-compliance certificate, which declares that they did not return to work after receiving an order to do so, as it could serve as grounds for punishing the residents," said an official from a prominent general hospital in Seoul.

조유라 기자 jyr0101@donga.com