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Gov’t expected to announce medical school quota hikes this week

SEOUL, The government is likely to announce an increase in the medical school enrollment quota this week to address the shortage of doctors in remote areas and essential medicine despite strong opposition from the medical circle, officials said Sunday.

If decided, it will be the first hike of the medical school enrollment quota in 19 years. The current limit stood at 3,058.

The government has reportedly been looking to raise the annual enrollment quota at medical schools by as much as 2,000 from the current 3,058, starting in 2025. The move comes amid a shortage of doctors in non-metropolitan and remote areas, as well as in the essential medicine field, including pediatrics and emergency care.

Doctors have opposed the government’s plan, claiming that the quota hike will compromise the quality of medical education and services and that the government should find other ways to better allocate physicians and boost compensation.

During a government-public debate on medical reform Thursday, health officials s
aid the government will raise the number of medical school students starting in 2025, considering the shortage of 15,000 doctors in 2035.

At the session, President Yoon Suk Yeol vowed to push ahead with the expansion of medical personnel, saying it is essential to reviving local and essential medical services.

Along with the potential quota increase, the government plans to announce a set of measures that aims to encourage doctors to major in essential medical fields and serve in non-metropolitan and other remote regions that have particularly seen a decrease in the number of medical staff.

According to the health ministry, the number of doctors per 1,000 people in South Korea came to 5.6, far below the average of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development member nations.

Source: Yonhap News Agency