Foreigners treat us in Macedonia, Macedonians treat abroad
A job advertisement for Serbian doctors in Macedonia has been posted, but from the Ministry they say it is about specialists who are to additionally train our doctors. However, a huge number of Macedonian doctors already work abroad and over 60 percent of the students would leave
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A job advertisement of the Ministry of Health requiring doctors from Serbia brought to light something that has long been clear, that doctors leave Macedonia in great number, which directly threatens citizens’ health. The Ministry says that the situation is not alarming. However, doctors warn that this is not the end of the exodus of Macedonian doctors.
Ministry of Health continuously works on rebuilding medical staff, especially their specialization and additional training in reputable centers worldwide, as well as by engaging retired professors from the country and abroad, according to the Ministry after the recent announcement in the Serbian media that doctors from Serbia are sought to work in hospitals in Skopje, Veles, Strumica, Ohrid and Stip.
“Doctors who will be engaged must be specialists in any area of medicine with at least 10 years working experience. Hired doctors will be provided accommodation, compensation for travel expenses and appropriate fee established by agreement with the Ministry of Health“, it is written inter alia in the advertisement published in the Serbian daily newspaper “Politika”.
Eye doctors, gynecologists, orthopedics, urologists, anesthesiologists and specialists in the field of neonatology and surgeons for vascular, endocrine gyneko-oncological diseases are preferred.
Ministry does not see brain drain of Macedonian doctors
Ministry of Health does not say how many doctors from Macedonia have left to work abroad and they say that the job advertisement for engaging specialists from Serbia is within the established practice for foreign specialists in the country.
“It is about engaging specialists residing in Macedonia who will work together with our doctors, in order to transfer their knowledge and experience, to introduce and apply contemporary methods in our health care system. The compensation of payments for the specialists will be determined in agreement with the Ministry of Health. So far announcements for collaboration with doctors from Italy, Germany, England and other countries have been published”, they say from the Ministry.
According to their data, in the period from 2012 to 2014, 1,000 new doctors, nurses, x-ray technicians and lab technicians were employed in all public health institutions (PHI) in the country. In addition to the personnel, the ministry already provided 362 new specializations in the school year 2013/2014, which is significantly more than previous years, when they granted only fifty per year.
“In order to restore and strengthen staff in public health, the ministry published three announcements for doctors-specialists employed in private health institutions who want to move back to public health institutions. Shift work has been introduced in many institutions. For the first time this year 70 doctors were sent to specialization in Germany, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia. This year 500 individuals will be sent to additional training for diagnostic and therapeutic interventions in reputable medical centers abroad”, they say from the Ministry.
But the results of a survey of the international research project Healthgrouper show that in the academic year 2012/2013 60 percent of the surveyed students of the Medical Faculty wanted to leave Macedonia after graduation. The results this year, however, show improvement. So to the question of whether students would like to stay in Macedonia after graduation, 45 percent of them said they would but only if they found a job. Unlike 2012, in 2013, 35 percent of the students wanted to leave.
“Differences in responses between the two generations of students may partly be due to the different circumstances in which research was conducted. Thus, unlike 2012 when there was doctors’ strike and their expressed dissatisfaction over the introduction of pay for performance project, this year a lot of new job positions have been opened in the health care system that seem to be attractive for future generations of doctors. If this assumption is correct, then it is necessary to maintain students’ motivation during their studies”, said Dr. Vladimir Lazarevic, CEO at Healthgrouper.
Slovenia – heaven for Macedonian doctors
Dozens cardiologists, pediatricians, gynecologists, dentists, x-ray technicians and medical students hope that Slovenia will give them what their country cannot. This is especially true for students who study at Slovenian universities for free.
“Everywhere I meet Macedonian specialists, gynecologists, dentists, cardiologists. In all clinics and health centers where I have been. Macedonian language is heard a lot, especially at the shopping centers. Slovenia has a deficit of doctors specialists, and for our doctors it is the winning combination. There are many students, too, says a Macedonian girl who has been living in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana for years.
Apart from Slovenia, most Macedonian doctors are in Germany where salaries range from 1600 to 4000 Euros, depending on the scale of hierarchy and the average salary of specialists is from 4.5 to 5 thousand Euros.
Unlike Ministry of Health and the Medical Association that do not provide data on how many doctors have emigrated from the country, recently the Association of Private Practitioners has released information, according to which in a period of two years almost 300 doctors have left Macedonia and went to work abroad.
This, according to Minister Nikola Todorov is not a big problem since, as he says, the mobility of doctors and medical personnel is a global problem that the country successfully handles with.
“Eastern Europe generally provides doctors for the countries of Western Europe, which in turn are mobile within these countries. Doctors from Austria go to work in Germany, from there to Switzerland, and from Switzerland in Scandinavian countries or in the USA, Australia. It is practically the road, mobility of doctors”, said Todorov this week.
They made them leave, now they want them back
And the desire to work in private clinics is great. So 55 percent of the Healthgrouper respondents answered they wanted to work in a private hospital and to 35 percent of them it made no difference where they would work just to find a job.
Three months ago, the Ministry of Health for the third time this year posted a job advertisement for transfer of doctors specialists from private health to PHI.
“In order to restore and strengthen health staff in public health, the ministry posted three advertisements for doctors-specialists employed in private health institutions that want to move to work in PHI. So far over 150 specialists have been employed and a number of new cabinets has been opened. Shift work has been introduced in many facilities”
So far about twenty PHI have returned radiologists, ophthalmologists, pediatricians, gynecologists, surgeons, skin doctors, psychiatrists and other specialists to work.
From “My appointment” to “Hello Doctor”
At a time when doctors can barely see all patients who have made an appointment under the project “My appointment”, Ministry of Health earlier this week launched the project “Hello Doctor”. It is a call center where on number 15-123 citizens from 8 am to 10 pm every day can call and consult for a particular health condition or symptoms they feel. The phone is designed for lighter cases not to burden the everyday work of the Ambulance service.
“Directors will work one shift a month for four hours. This means that everyone will have one doctor, director of a clinic, that is specialist or PhD with extensive experience, who will receive calls and give advice to citizens who believe that they need to dial this phone”, said Minister Todorov.
Ljubisa Karanfilovski, president of the Health Union believes this is an effective project that will only be of assistance to citizens.
“I think this project works well in Scandinavia towards facilitating the emergency medical assistance and guidance of patients when it is not necessary to use a primary care doctor. The effect would be on the chronically ill. The fact that these days there have been more than 700 calls shows that the project is acceptable as such. It is a voluntary registration of doctors specialists and doctors pensioners so that it will not present an additional burden”, says Karanfilovski.
The project includes specialist doctors with at least 10 years experience, and some specialists are retired doctors. 39 directors of Skopje clinics and health care facilities in this city will give advice via phone.