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Slovakia is losing its medical graduates

THE STATE invests a huge amount of money into educating doctors, but hundreds of them leave Slovakia after graduation, drawn by higher earnings and better working conditions abroad.

THE STATE invests a huge amount of money into educating doctors, but hundreds of them leave Slovakia after graduation, drawn by higher earnings and better working conditions abroad.

After veterinary science, medicine is the second most expensive field of study. Training a doctor costs the state three times more than, for example, an economist. But one in 10 Slovak medical school graduates look for jobs abroad, where doctors receive better wages, working conditions, and prospects for career advancement. As a result, the generation of doctors now serving in Slovak hospitals is generally older, the Pravda daily wrote in early August.

While there are no official statistics of how many doctors are leaving Slovakia and what the average age of medical practitioners is, the lack of young doctors has already become a public issue. And the increasing age of doctors is confirmed by representatives of medical and professional organisations.

“The highest number of young doctors go to the Czech Republic but also to Germany and Austria,” said Anton Szalay, the head of the Slovak Trade Unions of Health and Social Services, as quoted by the daily. “The wages of our doctors are discouraging. They are too low to enable them to have families and to pay mortgages. We have been pointing out the need to stabilise wages in order that young doctors do not leave for a long period of time.”

Students and graduates of medical faculties confirmed Szalay’s words, while many Slovaks attending medical schools in the Czech Republic are also pondering staying because, they say, health care there is at a higher level, hospitals are better equipped, wages are higher and the approach of people is also different.

Apart from the lack of younger general practitioners, there is also a lack of young dentists, both leading to an older average age for practising doctors and dentists. And this phenomenon affects other professions like nursing and midwifery too.

The Health Ministry as well as dentists ascribe the shortage of young dentists to the education sector, which fails to generate enough graduates due to the low number of students accepted, the Sme daily wrote in early September.


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