Disputes rise over introduction of doctors holding foreign licenses

Patients wait to see doctors at a major hospital in Seoul, Friday. Yonhap

A heated debate has been sparked by the government’s recent decision to allow doctors holding licenses issued in foreign nations to legally practice medicine here without passing required exams in case the country faces a serious public health care crisis.The Ministry of Health and Welfare came up with the idea amid prolonged medical service disruptions, caused by the ongoing nationwide walkout by thousands of trainee doctors protesting the policy to increase the quota for medical students starting next year.Supporters for the introduction of foreign medical license holders say it seems like an inevitable choice if the medical service disruptions, which began in February, continue.

However, objectors claim that it would be difficult to ensure qualifications of foreign license holders and that the issue of who is to blame could be raised in case of medical accidents.On Wednesday, the health ministry announced the plan to revise the enforcement regulation of the Medical Act by May 20. Under the revision, those who have acquired doctors’ licenses in other countries will be able to practice medicine in Korea upon approval by the health ministry when the country issues the highest national health crisis alert.On Feb. 23, the ministry raised the alert level to the uppermost tier of “serious” in response to the walkout by trainee doctors, so the revision plan is interpreted as a preparation in case the current health care standoff is protracted further.As to possible communication problems with foreign license holders, the revision is expected to apply mainly to Koreans who studied medicine overseas and acquired licenses there.“I agree with the need to bring foreign medical license holders to this country as Korean doctors have refused to treat patients,” an online commentator commented on the related news article.Another commentator wrote, “Bringing in foreign doctors is natural in this competitive society. Korean doctors should accept the 스포츠토토존 reality.”

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