SKorea: Trainee Doctors Walk-Out Disrupts Healthcare Sector

    SKorea: Trainee Doctors Walk-Out Disrupts Healthcare Sector
    Photo: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images News via Getty Images

    The Facts

    • More than half of South Korea's 13K trainee doctors submitted letters of resignation Monday in protest against the government's proposal to increase the number of medical students by 2K next year. According to the Health Ministry, 1,630 of them had walked off the job.

    • While Korean doctors are some of the highest paid in the world, the country is also dealing with the second lowest doctor-to-people ratios among the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, with 2.5 per 1K.


    The Spin

    Narrative A

    South Korea's doctor's unions are effectively holding their ailing patients hostage to stop a public policy favored by the vast majority of the population. 76-90% of people support the increase in medical students. This proposal is in line with other major economies working to meet the needs of their aging populations. The striking doctors are not focused on the needs of patients here.

    Narrative B

    The current labor shortage isn't taking place throughout the entire medical field but rather a select number of specialty fields that endure uniquely low wages and 80-hour work weeks. The proposed increase in medical students won't help with this shortage — it will continue to bring wages down for struggling doctors while also lowering the quality of education at medical schools.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 10% chance that North Korea and South Korea will be recognized as a single sovereign state by 2045, according to the Metaculus prediction community.


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