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He said the Korean Medical Association (KMA) and the Korean Intern Resident Association (KIRA) had rejected several of the government’s offers.
In a statement, KMA said the medical community was always open to all possibilities in talks with the government, and that the doctors did not want to have to strike.
“We sincerely do want to return,” the statement said. “We ask you citizens to listen to our voice so that we can meet our patients as soon as possible.”
KMA and KIRA members have said they oppose government plans to boost the number of medical students over several years, establish public medical schools, allow government insurance to cover more oriental medicine, and introduce more telemedicine options.
The government said its goal to increase the number of medical students by 4,000 over the next 10 years is necessary to better prepare for public health crises like the coronavirus pandemic.
Student doctors, however, said the plan would unnecessarily flood an already competitive market, and that the extra funding would be better spent improving the salaries of existing trainees, which would encourage them to move out of Seoul to rural areas where more health professionals are needed. (Reporting by Sangmi Cha and Josh Smith; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)