Doctors’ group to pick new leader amid tense standoff over increased enrollment quota

A doctor stands in a hallway at a hospital in Daegu, March 25. Yonhap

A major lobby group of community doctors is set to elect a new leader Tuesday, with a prolonged walkout by junior doctors over the increased medical school enrollment quota continuing to disrupt public health services at major hospitals.The Korean Medical Association (KMA), which represents some 100,000 community doctors, plans to announce a new chairman later in the day, a move certain to further intensify the standoff with the government.The two candidates are Lim Hyun-taek, head of the Korean Pediatric Association, and Joo Soo-ho, the chief KMA spokesperson. Both candidates have strongly opposed the government’s push.Lim has argued that the number of medical school admission seats must be reduced and that the KMA will not sit down for talks unless the government fires Vice Health Minister Park Min-soo.Joo has claimed that the KMA will not accept the increased enrollment quota and that there is no need for talks with the government.

More than 90 percent of the country’s 13,000 trainee doctors have been on strike in the form of mass resignations since Feb. 20 to protest the government’s decision to increase the medical school enrollment quota by 2,000 seats from the current 3,058.The KMA’s hard-line stance contrasts with another group of medical professors, called the Medical Professors Association of Korea, which vowed to play a mediator role between the doctors’ community and the government amid the deadlock.Nevertheless, medical professors, who are senior doctors at major university hospitals, also started submitting resignations en masse this week, although they pledged to remain at work for the time being.The government is pushing to increase the admission quota to address a shortage of doctors, particularly in rural areas and essential medical fields, such as high-risk surgeries, pediatrics, obstetrics and emergency medicine.But doctors argue the quota hike would compromise the quality of medical education and services and create a surplus of physicians, stating the government must devise ways of better protecting them from malpractice suits and extending 스포츠토토존 compensation to induce more physicians to practice in such “unpopular” areas. 

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