Saturday, 22 February 2014

China's medical internship scheme starts in 2015 - but it comes at a price

by Michael Woodhead
From 2015, all Chinese medical students who wish to become a full doctor must complete a three year internship scheme at a hospital, the National Health and Family Planning Commission has announced. 
The aim is to give all medical graduates in China a practical grounding in all clinical areas, and to achieve consistent standards for medical practitioners across China. The scheme will mean that once medical students have graduated they will obtain an internship at a hospital and do standardised training in various rotations such as surgery, psychiatry and paediatrics as well as receive additional training in areas such as communication with patients. During the three years the interns will have assessments and exams that they will have to pass to gain a licence to be a full doctor.
The plan will bring China into line with most other countries that have medical internship systems, but Chinese medical students are not happy. They say the new internship scheme will add another three years to an already lengthy medical training - and will also mean three more years of penury. At present, the competitive education system means that most medical students have to complete a Masters or even a PhD in order to obtain a training place in a city hospital. This takes at least seven or eight years, so would-be doctors now face a training period of at least 10 years  - or possibly 12 years - before they become a fully fledged doctor. And during this long period, students earn little or nothing. Current internship schemes at Nanjing hospitals, for example, see interns earning about 2000 yuan a month - well below the average incomes of other students who have done masters or doctoral degrees. Students say the new internship scheme will mean that the total costs of studying to be a doctor will be at least 150,000 yuan.
"Undergraduate, masters, doctorate  - at least eight years then three years more of training - that means you will be at least 30 before you are a doctor. What about marriage and having children?" said one medical student who predicted that the new system would turn many bright students away from studying medicine.
The internship plan will come into effect in all Chinese provinces from 2015 and the full standardised internship  system must be up and running by 2020, the NHFPC says.
Source: Nanjing News

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