Senior medical students to pause collective action protesting gov’t policy

SEOUL, Senior medical students boycotting the state licensing exam said Sunday they will put on hold their collective action taken in protest of the government’s medical workforce reform plan.
Medical students in the fourth year have refused to take the exam and junior students have taken a leave of absence in protest of the government’s plan to increase admission quotas at medical schools.
As trainee doctors returned to work last week after weeks of a strike over the government’s policy, the medical students’ collective action has served as a lingering source of tensions between the government and the medical sector.
Doctors and the government have been at odds over whether to give medical students another opportunity to take the licensing exam. Doctors insisted students should be allowed to take the test even if they did not register before the deadline, while the government has rejected such a step.
Representatives of senior medical students said they will halt their collective action, a move seen as expressing their willingness to take the exam.
“We will monitor whether the government will reconsider its policy and implement medical policy for the sake of the people. If the government and the parliament push ahead with the wrong medical policy, we will start the collective action again,” they said in a joint statement.
But it is uncertain whether they will be allowed to take the licensing exam as public opinions remain overwhelmingly negative toward it.
The government’s plan to expand the number of medical students by 4,000 over the next 10 years and open a new public medical school sparked tensions within the medical sector. Thousands of trainee doctors staged a strike for 18 days starting in mid-August over the policy.
A group of doctors and the ruling party agreed in early September to end a nationwide walkout on concerns that the prolonged collective action could disrupt the health care system amid the new coronavirus outbreak.
In response to the deal, the government backed down and promised to halt the medical reform plan in early September.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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