The pandemic has further highlighted the alarming shortage of medical professionals in our country. A problem was already announced a few years ago. And it can get worse if no action is taken. But with the foundation. was seen coming. This was announced by several studies. As life expectancy increases, there will be a need in the future for more health workers in Spain. But access to medical studies has remained curtailed, notably by some deans of colleges with their deans “resigning”, fearing the public inconsistency of such an important authority in any university. And with some “relief” from the government of the autonomous community concerned, frightened by an expected increase in core funding.
Because there have been serious attempts to increase the supply of places in public universities. At the General Conference on University Policy, where all Autonomous Communities are with the Universities Ministry, a gradual increase was intended. Almost ten percent lasted of course. no more. Among other reasons, due to the complexity of studies in an organized profession, such as medicine, which has a European orientation. Or because of the economic cost that such an increase in the number of students in public schools may have in the faculty, both for the regional budget and for the universities themselves. Or because of the difficulty in obtaining accredited hospitals so that resident internists can carry out their practices with quality assurances.
However, something was done. According to data from the National Congress of Spanish Medical Schools (CNDFME), medical or health sciences schools have almost doubled in the past 15 years. I went from 28 colleges (26 public and 2 private) to 46 colleges (35 public and 11 private), one public and four private on the starting line. More is announced. The demand for these studies is increasing and there is “work” for the private company. Studying medicine involves very high expenses for the student and his family. But there is always someone who can afford at least six years of a degree. Even a one-year preparatory course guarantees a stable place to get to first.
On the other hand, projections indicate that in the next five years, nearly half of current medical professionals, both university professors and those working in health centers, may retire. Social expectations about health care have increased dramatically. Because of the increase in life expectancy. In the interest of citizens’ health. In view of the demand to expand the health service to include more areas, such as providing some employees for educational centers. Contrary to what is happening in other areas, technological developments in the field of health do not mean a reduction in the number of employees, quite the contrary. Perhaps “in Spain there is no shortage of doctors, but specialists”, says a statement by CNDFME (October 2022).
Problems have been detected. But no satisfactory solutions were found. Perhaps, because it is made difficult by the attitudes of some firms and the economic interests of the social status. The emigration of graduates from our universities abroad, where they find better working conditions, has been astonishing.
Meanwhile, they come here from other countries to practice medicine in our hospitals, especially private hospitals, and vacancies (some deserted for a long time) in public health centers in rural areas. The current university regulations do not help in finding balanced solutions either. It has many holes. That was why it would not harm the medical class, health authorities, and the university to advance with high firmness and seek strong agreements in at least two directions. On the one hand, in planning. Medicine is a long-standing profession. Thus, the planning of premises must be done, at least, ten or twenty years in advance. It will be necessary to increase the supply, but in moderation. It is only possible to act out of the current great demand. There will be a risk of repeating what has already happened in the past, when there were “surplus” doctors. It is also happening now with architecture graduates who started their studies when construction boomed. In college planning, you have to be very careful with “fads”.
In addition, the access system, and in particular the selection and allocation of new places, should be reviewed with students from here to there throughout the summer until they (finally) get one to start the course. And a comprehensive review of the current MIR system, of course.
On the other hand, in quality. Pre-curricular evaluation by a quality agency is good, but it may not be enough. The International Seal of the World Federation of Medical Education (WFME) must be obtained. He wondered if strict control systems were in place and working. Especially in the private sector.
First, if the college has sufficient technical means to teach such a demanding undergraduate degree. Second, if the faculty members meet the academic qualifications and requirements required in the university regulations to be able to impart these teachings. And third, if the university has designated health centers of resident and differentiated quality so that its students can undertake the internships included in their study plan.
There is a clear shortage of medical professionals in our country, especially specialists, and the problem may worsen in the coming years. But the “solution” cannot lie in allowing new grades without very detailed prospective analysis and without sure guarantees of quality. The cure can be worse than the disease.
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