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Young doctors shun work in remote areas

Update: September, 05/2012 - 10:00

 

Doctors examine residents of the northern province of Son La. A Ministry of Health project to encourage young doctors to work in remote areas has shown little effectiveness. — VNA/VNS Photo Dinh Tran
HA NOI — Many young doctors have shown little interest in a Ministry of Health pilot project encouraging them to work in remote areas.

The doctors, particularly those who have just graduated, are needed to improve health-care services in 62 remote and poor districts. Male doctors are asked to work for five years and young women for three years.

If doctors agree to work in these areas, they are paid a monthly salary of VND6-7 million (US$280-330) – which is similar to city salaries – and free-of-charge post-graduate education. If they want to stay in the region, they can buy land at preferential prices.

Pham Van Tac, director of the Ministry of Health's Personnel Department, said there was a serious shortage of doctors in the areas selected.

Some hospitals in deprived districts have only one doctor. The biggest hospitals often have only eight or nine.

Tac said that many graduates found work outside the medical profession because there was no immediate work available in cities.

"This is really a waste of knowledge," he said.

The pilot project is not only aimed at improving health-care in remote places, but also at relieving the strain of overcrowding at provincial and city hospitals.

Tac said while the project was also intended to help give young doctors solid medical experience, some thought the preferential policies were not attractive enough.

Tran Thi Thu Trang from Ha Noi's Ung Hoa District, who graduated from Ha Noi Medical University last year, said she did not want to work in remote areas as hospitals there lacked modern equipment.

She said this meant she would have no opportunity to apply the knowledge she had learned at university.

"If I cannot practice on modern machines, I will slowly lose my knowledge and it will be much more difficult for me to study for higher qualifications in the future," she said.

At remote hospitals, doctors mostly treat simple problems, including giving health checks, classifying patients and moving them to upper-level hospitals if necessary.

"Poor district hospitals do not have enough special medicines to treat patients with serious diseases," she said.

Trang said if the ministry wanted to attract young doctors, the State should first invest in improving hospital infrastructure, medicines and equipment.

Nguyen Van Nguu, director of the Cai Lay District Hospital in the southern province of Tien Giang, said the hospital had 16 doctors, but needed about 15 more.

"If young doctors agree to work here, it's lucky not only for us but also for local residents," he said. — VNS

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