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Poland Is Short of Doctors As Polish Medics Emigrate For Opportunity


The Polish Government has officially noticed that the emigration of
its people from Poland to Western Europe is adversely affecting its
medical system. There's now a serious shortage of doctors and nurses
and does not appear that this can be corrected.

The Polish Ministry of Health estimated that are 4000 empty positions
for doctors and another 3500 empty positions for nurses and midwives.
See in Polish

Most of the emigrating medical personnel are younger people who have
left for a better opportunity. But added to the group are those who
have not been admitted to internships to earn specialist designations
and who have gone to other countries to get them. And also added to
the group are those who are concerned about the futures for their
children and their children's educations that they feel are better
provided for in a Western European country.

But money is the primary cause of people leaving. For example, it is
reported that doctors work in Scandinavia for six months and then
take the next six months off and spend it on vacation in a warm
climate. Their life is much better than those who struggle in Poland
for long hours and low pay.

Even with the higher cost of living in Western Europe, a doctor will
generally end up having twice as much money available to spend than
he would in Poland. And he would have better living conditions and
more opportunity.

The Polish Government wants to stop the drain. One plan being
considered by the Polish government was put forward by the head of
the President's Chancellery, Gosiewski, who said the people who go
through internships in Polish hospitals and gain a specialization
should be required to spend a certain amount of time working in their
profession in Poland before they be allowed to work in the West.

The medical community's response to his comments were uniformly
negative. Those now serving their internships, responded that it is
not necessary to get their specialization in Poland. They could
simply do it in the West.

And because consultants determine the number of people that can take
internships for specialization some people are looking to go West for
specialization anyway. It is said that these consultants limit the
number of people in order to prevent competition within the medical

Some young doctors who have been rejected for specialist internships
have simply gone West and gotten them already.

A former Deputy Minister of Health was questioned in 2004 about the
effect of emigration on the Polish medical system. He discounted any
negative effect because he saw no reason that there would be mass
emigration to the West.

Even today people within the Polish Government and past members of
the Ministry of Health see no problem because they say that the
Polish doctors and nurses will return to Poland better educated.

That these people return to Poland at all in the future is discounted
by emigration experts. Their research concludes that doctors and
nurses are not going to take a huge pay cut and work under difficult
conditions in Poland when they can do very well in the West.

They say that nurses in particular who have gone West will simply not
come back because the nursing profession in Poland is unattractive
and with no career opportunities.

And it is not only the doctors and nurses who not expected to come
back. The Government has generally said that there will be
opportunity in Poland for the young people and then when that
opportunity is here, people will come back better trained and will
help Poland move forward. But again immigration experts say that most
of the people who left Poland are gone. See In Polish

To date, for the most part the doctors and nurses who have left
Poland are the younger people. New young doctors and nurses will
likely follow. But now it is expected that the older doctors will
start to emigrate West.

The Polish Government has not put forth any plans that have done
anything to reduce the rate of emigration. If it continues as it is,
the Polish medical system will only get worse.

The Minister of Health, Zbigniew Religa, says that there is only one
way to stop the emigration. Pay the people more.