Iceland Culture: Does Iceland Have A Shortage of Doctors?

healthcare_education_and_safety_in_iceland

We’re heading to Iceland Airwaves! Here’s a cultural preview story written by Brendan. Follow their journey, which begins October 30, on the Iceland Airwaves 2013 blog.

Iceland is a country of many things: beautiful landscapes, solid fishing and agriculture industries, and a rich history of literature. It is not, however, known for their medical professionals. In fact, according to a recent study published by the Iceland Review, half of the University of Iceland‘s medical students said that they were planning to leave Iceland upon completion of their studies. The poll was conducted by the university’s School of Health Sciences and revealed that of the 248 students polled (72% of the student body), only 8% said they had a positive outlook on Iceland’s healthcare policies and even more were strongly considering leaving the country to pursue their chosen profession of medicine.

This is an interesting quandary where the population of the entire country is roughly only 320,000 people. There has been a number of high profile resignations in the past few months by doctors in Iceland who specialize in everything from brain traumas to gynecology. Their reasoning was that far too many hospitals are understaffed, and they report worsening working conditions and low pay. This could spell trouble for a country that has 1,200 practicing physicians with that number beginning to dwindle.

This story will take a look at Iceland’s possible shortage of doctors while speaking with medical and healthcare professionals, including a representative from the Ministry of Welfare and a young doctor living in Iceland today. It will illuminate some similarities and differences between the healthcare industry in Iceland and the United States.

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