Fine Gael Senator for Cork and Seanad Spokesperson on Health, Colm Burke, has today (Tuesday) released the results of a survey he commissioned of medical students across the country, which found that nearly two thirds of final year medical students (65.5%) do not plan on working within the Irish hospital system one year after their graduation.
Over half of the final year students are planning to leave Ireland and work abroad once they have completed their intern year, with the remaining 34.5% opting to work in Irish hospitals and 15.2% applying for the General Practitioner Training Scheme (total 49.7%).
“These findings are a stark reminder that our young medical professionals do not see Ireland as a desirable place to work and that we must address the shortfalls that are driving our students overseas. When compared to studies of a similar nature, these findings further compound the fact that we are losing our young medical professionals to foreign shores at an alarming rate. This indicates that we are not only failing our medical students but that we are losing a valuable, precious and expensive resource to the taxpayer.
“A similar report carried out by the HSE in 2010-2011 (Implementation of the Reform of the Intern Year Second Interim Report), found that at the beginning of the internship year (the year immediately after graduation from medical school) 66% of interns intended to continue to work or train in Ireland. After the internship was completed, that figure dropped to 53%.
“There are a number of factors attributed to the brain drain of our medical students, including dissatisfaction with medical training structures, lack of intern places and working hours. Permanency issues are also a feature, with doctors appointed to training posts often being provided with contracts of between six and twelve months. In the UK, contracts of up to three years are the norm.
“Reform of our healthcare system will not happen overnight. It is worth noting that the proportion of training posts has increased from 40% of NCHD posts in 2007 to over 80% of NCHD posts in 2012.
“We have been losing junior doctors overseas for too long now. It is time we called a halt to this damaging practice, and gave careful consideration to how best to make Ireland a more attractive place for our young medics, so that the Exchequer can benefit from their expensive training, and the Irish people from their talent and skill.”