South Korea’s pediatricians shunning a field they think has no future
On a Friday last month, the waiting room of a children’s hospital on the outskirts of the South Korean capital of Seoul was packed with dozens of kids and their parents, waiting for hours since early morning just to secure a hospital bed or see a doctor.
Lee Bo-mi, the mother of a 3-year-old whose pneumonia is yet to dissipate despite weeks of treatment, described how scared she was as there was a long waiting list and they kept getting rejected. They could secure a hospital bed only after a frustrating two weeks.
At the root of the problem is a low birth rate, combined with the failure of the insurance system to adapt to it, leaving pediatrics starved of resources and doctors leaving a field they think no longer has a future, a few pediatricians told Reuters News Agency.
Government Blamed For Lack Of Appropriate Action
Doctors fear scores of sick kids will die in the near future after bouncing around multiple emergency rooms only to fail at securing a hospital bed. The government has been blamed for lack of appropriate action to fix long-existing problems.
Pediatricians had asked for an additional budget to attract more health professionals into the field. South Korea’s Ministry of Health and Welfare has acknowledged the “limitations”, saying measures were being implemented to help the system run smoothly.
Historically Low Birth-Rate Compounding Problems
Compared with peers, pediatricians in the Asian country earn relatively less. According to Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service Data, pediatricians’ income was the lowest among doctors in 23 clinical departments.
The historically low birth rate has brought a sharp drop in the number of patients, leading to a lesser interest in this field among future doctors. Compared to 97.4% in 2013, the recruitment rate of pediatric residents in South Korea plummeted to 16.3% in the first half of 2023.
Fewer pediatricians mean longer wait times for sick babies at children’s hospitals. Don’t you think this situation will create a vicious cycle that makes more and more parents in the country not happy with the thought of having kids?