Ministry to end intern program for med schools

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Ministry to end intern program for med schools

The Ministry of Health and Welfare announced yesterday that it will abolish the internship training course for medical students from 2014, deeming it ineffective.

However, the decision brought about a strong backlash from medical students arguing that such a decision will deny them the opportunity to learn about certain departments they may be interested in before selecting a specific medical field.

According to the Health Ministry, students who graduate from medical schools in 2014 will not go through the usual internship training course that has been the standard for the past 55 years, and will instead become resident trainees directly after graduation.

The internship training system is designed for medical students who have passed the National Examination for Medical Practitioners after graduating from medical schools to be trained at hospitals for a year.

The system was intended to supplement the lack of field experience for medical students who have spent the last six years learning in classrooms. Once graduates become interns at hospitals, they circulate to different departments every one or two months and engage in various field experiences.

However, some of the programs that have been designed to offer a year of experience for medical students have been misused. Interns have instead been doing chores and odd jobs, explained the ministry.

“It is less effective from the educational perspective,” said Koh Deuk-young, an official from the ministry. “We believe that one year is a waste of highly educated manpower.”

When the plan was being discussed by the ministry in August of last year, medical students, especially from rural areas, argued that their opinions have been “totally neglected” in the decision making and have been holding signature-seeking campaigns since December.

Currently, medical students from 12 universities including the Catholic University of Korea in Seoul, Kwandong University in Gangwon, Yeungnam University in North Gyeongsang, Chonnam National University in South Jeolla and Chungnam National University in South Chungcheong, are participating in the petition campaign.

According to the students, there are advantages to the internship course as they circulate to five to 10 different departments for a year, which allows them to explore their departments of interest.

By Yim Seung-hye []
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