As 80 percent of fourth-grade medical students do not apply for the national medical exam this year, there is a growing concern at the medical field, with a large shortage of intern doctors at training hospitals nationwide next year. In particular, due to the third trend of coronavirus infection-19 (Corona 19), there is a sigh of “no answer” at mandatory medical sites such as emergency rooms and intensive care units that are heavily overworked.
Concerns are high that the manpower vacuum will be more severe in the mandatory medical field and small and medium-sized hospitals. Yoo In-sul, a professor of emergency medicine at Chungnam National University Hospital, said, “Although it varies from hospital to hospital, the operation of the emergency room itself will be impossible for hospitals that rely heavily on interns. “In the evening, there could be a situation where a nurse, not a doctor, protects the emergency room,” he said. “All hospitals nationwide will be shaken and small and medium-sized hospitals and avoidance will be more problematic.”
Earlier, the Ministry of Health and Welfare proposed the additional allocation of emergency medical majors and the expansion of hospitalization specialists as alternatives to minimizing intern vacancies during this year’s parliamentary audit. However, many pointed out that it was ineffective at the site. Heo Tak, chairman of the Korea Emergency Medical Association (Jeonnam University Hospital), said, “If you look at the quota plan for 2021, which was recently announced, the number of emergency medical residents has increased by 15.” This is not a solution to the internship gap, but a quota that has been increased to the government’s policy goals such as the operation of a regional emergency medical center. It’s too difficult to call it an alternative to an intern vacuum,” he pointed out. “If we increase the number of students to fill the intern gap, who will come to see us as emergency medical specialists?” “We still don’t know if we’ll have as many emergency medical residents as we have increased our quota,” he said. “There’s no answer honestly if the absence of interns overlaps with the heavy workload in the emergency room due to Corona’s response.”
Even at the hospital level, it is difficult to come up with appropriate measures. Chung Young-ho, president of the Korea Hospital Association, said, “If an intern suddenly leaves the hospital, the hospital will not return normally. Hospitalization specialists cannot be an alternative. This is because even the Big 5 hospitals have low support rates to the point where it is difficult to fill the full capacity of inpatients,” he said. “Really, related personnel such as nurses, medical technicians, and emergency paramedics will have to take over the internship. However, it is illegal and difficult to call it a countermeasure. Hospital sites are pinning hopes on further tests. They say that if additional practical tests are conducted between January and March and new doctors are deployed by May, they will be able to complete the training period of 10 months. The hospital community is waiting for the government`s decision with vague hopes, Chung said. We hope that additional tests will be carried out as soon as possible and that interns will be deployed even after March,” he stressed.