Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Blame it on the fees (or lack thereof)

If students had to pay to train to become doctors we probably wouldn't have the problem we have now. According to the Irish Times we're soon going to have too few doctors.
Ireland is facing a future shortage of family doctors involved in full-time clinical practice. The research, conducted by Prof Fergus O’Kelly and his TCD colleagues, surveyed all GP graduates between 1997 and 2003. It found that women GPs are half as likely as their male counterparts to work as full-time doctors at partnership level. Within the next eight years, an increasing number of family doctors will retire – some 40 per cent of GPs will stop working. And most leaving the profession will be men who have been involved in full-time medical practice. How, given the evidence of this survey, will they be replaced?
Forget the male-female thing because that's not the issue. The issue is that there is no cost to becoming a doctor because the state picks up the tab.

If students had to cover the true cost of becoming a doctor there would be far, far fewer giving up or taking time off after taking the taxpayer's dime to acquire an expensive degree. If medical students left college owing €100,000 (or whatever) very few would be able to afford that option.

The abolition of third-level fees has created a number of problems, but this may be the most glaring.