Young doctors not choosing obstetrics: group

The China Post news staff

Local hospitals find it increasingly difficult to recruit graduate students of medical universities to become doctors of obstetrics and gynecology, as the increasingly low birth rate and the subsequent lackluster business prospects in Taiwan have seriously undermined the willingness of such students to serve as obstetricians or gynecologists, according to the Taiwan Association of Obstetrics and Gynecology (TAOG). TOAG statistics showed that hospitals around the island had planned to recruit a total of 35 resident doctors for obstetrics and gynecology in 2011, but just a few hospitals have managed to recruit a total of only 10 such doctors, including Shin Kong Wu Ho Su Memorial Hospital, Mackay Memorial Hospital, Taichung Veterans General Hospital and National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH). Even the NTUH, the bellwether of hospitals in Taiwan, failed to solicit any doctor of obstetrics and gynecology during the first round of recruitment and was “unprecedentedly” forced to launch a second round of recruitment.

Shih Ching-chung, an attending physician at the NTUH’s division of obstetrics and gynecology, said that his division planned to solicit three to four resident doctors in the beginning of the new year, but finally netted only one doctor during the second round of recruitment.

Such an undesirable situation differed sharply from 20 years ago, when he had just graduated from the College of Medicine from the National Taiwan University, according to Shih. Shih said 20 years ago, only medical students ranking top in terms of study records would be selected by hospitals to serve as obstetricians and gynecologists. He said that the NTUH used to recruit only male graduate students of the College of Medicine of the National Taiwan University.

But now, graduate medical students are reluctant to join the field of obstetrics and gynecology for some reasons, including growing medical disputes, comparatively lower claims from the national health insurance system, and the increasingly low birth rate.

In a bid to smoothly recruit resident doctors of obstetrics and gynecology, quite a few local hospitals have offered various incentives, including a minimum annual pay of NT$1.5 million, quick promotion, advanced study abroad, among others. As a result of the shortage of new doctors joining the field of obstetrics and gynecology, the average age of existing obstetricians and gynecologists in practice hit a high of 52.8 in 2009, 8 years higher than the average age of national doctors, according to statistics released by the TAOG. In 2011, the average age of such doctors has risen to 54.8, with the number of doctors aged under 40 reaching less than 20.