Pediatrician shortage in Korea stops childcare service at major hospital

2022.12.13 11:34:02 | 2022.12.13 12:18:02

Gachon University Gil Medical Center hompage pop-up says that it has decided not to offer hospitalization services for infants, children and teens [Photo by Lee Chung-woo]이미지 확대

Gachon University Gil Medical Center hompage pop-up says that it has decided not to offer hospitalization services for infants, children and teens [Photo by Lee Chung-woo]



A shortage of pediatricians in South Korea has put a stop to hospitalization care for children at one of major general hospitals in Incheon, the country’s third biggest city and transportation hub with Incheon International Airport.

Gachon University Gil Medical Center, one of the three tertiary referral hospitals in Incheon, on Monday announced that it has decided not to offer hospitalization services for infants, children and teens until February next year as it failed to hire pediatric residents who will start the first year in its pediatrics ward.

It posted employment notices for four pediatrician positions, but no one had applied for it the hospital explained.

“It’s been long years since the pediatrics department had new residents. If the current four-year residents start preparing the qualifying exam to become a pediatric specialist, the hospital will have only one resident in the second year. We’re facing a situation where we cannot provide the hospitalization service any longer,” said Son Dong-woo, head of the pediatrics department at Gachon University Gil Medical Center, in its notice to local partner clinics.

The hospital plans to resume the service if it succeeds in employing new pediatric residents.

The latest decision has raised concerns that it would be harder to treat children with severe illnesses in Incheon where only three tertiary referral hospitals are located. It could happen in other parts of the country as Korea has been suffering a shortage of pediatricians.

The number of obstetricians and pediatricians has been on the steady decline in Korea as many doctors prefer to specialize in more lucrative fields like plastic surgery or dental care. The plunge in birth rates and fertility rate also make future doctors to avoid those fields.

By Yoo Joo-yeon, Shin Yoo-geoung and Lee Ha-yeon

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