|President Yoon Suk-yeol speaks during a Cabinet meeting at the presidential office in Seoul on Feb. 6, 2024./ Source: Presidential Office
AsiaToday reporter Roh Sung-woo
The government plans to increase the number of medical students by 2,000 next year. The move comes in the wake of the dire situation in which the essential medical sectors stand at the edge of the cliff.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare held a media briefing at the government complex in Seoul on Tuesday, addressing the government’s decision to raise the annual enrollment quota at medical schools.
The government proposed the plan after a discussion based on the supply and demand forecast in 2035. The decision will raise the number of freshmen for medical schools to 5,058 starting next year from the current 3,058, which has been capped since 2006.
According to the health ministry, an estimated 5,000 more doctors are needed to raise the number of doctors currently operating in vulnerable medical districts to the national average. Experts predict that nearly 10,000 doctors will be needed by 2035 amid the rapidly aging society. In response, the ministry has pointed out that shortage of doctors as the main cause of the crisis in regional medical services and critical fields and has been pushing for an increase in medical schools.
The quota will be mainly increased at medical schools situated outside the Seoul metropolitan area. The ministry has not yet determined the distribution of the additional 2,000 students among medical schools. The specifics will be revealed later following consultations with the Ministry of Education. The health ministry said it will ensure that there will be no setbacks in the university entrance examination schedule.
“We will make sure to establish a regional complete medical system by promoting medical reform without a hitch,” health minister Cho Kyu-hong said.
“In order to protect the health and life of the people, the expansion of medical personnel is an imperative task that cannot be continuously delayed,” President Yoon Suk-yeol said at the Cabinet meeting.