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Allgemeinmedizin 12. Juni 2015

Physicians’ exodus: why medical graduates leave Austria or do not work in clinical practice

Background: Austria has the highest number of medical graduates of all Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries in relation to its population size, but over 30 % choose not to pursue a career as physicians in the country.

Objective and research design: This article describes under- and postgraduate medical education in Austria and analyses reasons for the exodus of physicians.

Medical education: In Austria, medicine is a 5- or 6-year degree offered at four public and two private medical schools. Medical graduates have to complete training in general medicine or a speciality to attain a licence to practice. While not compulsory for speciality training, board certification in general medicine has often been regarded as a prerequisite for access to speciality training posts.

Analysis: Unstructured postgraduate training curricula, large amounts of administrative tasks, low basic salaries and long working hours present for incentives for medical graduates to move abroad or to work in a non-clinical setting. The scope of current reforms, such as the establishment of a new medical faculty and the implementation of a common trunk, is possibly insufficient in addressing the issue.

Conclusion: Extensive reforms regarding occupational conditions and the structure of postgraduate medical education are necessary to avoid a further exodus of junior doctors.

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