South Korea to Decide on Medical School Quota Increase

SEOUL—The South Korean health ministry is set to discuss and likely decide on increasing the enrollment quotas for medical schools during a medical workforce policy meeting scheduled for Tuesday, according to an official statement made on Monday. This move comes in response to projections that the country will face a shortfall of approximately 15,000 doctors by 2035. If approved, this will mark the first increase in medical school enrollment quotas in 19 years, with current caps set at 3,058 students annually. Speculation suggests the quota could rise by up to 2,000 additional spots.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the government is acutely aware of the sensitivity surrounding this issue and plans to announce the exact scope of the quota increase on the day of the meeting. This decision is part of broader efforts to address the persistent shortage of medical professionals in rural and remote areas, as well as in critical medical fields such as pediatrics and emergency care. In an attempt to incentivize the medical community, the government has committed to allocating 10 trillion won ($7.5 billion) by 2028 to improve compensation for medical services in these essential areas and to encourage more doctors to work in higher-risk sectors. Additionally, a "safety net" is proposed to limit doctors' criminal liability in malpractice cases, aiming to prioritize emergency treatments while ensuring rapid compensation for patients.

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