These days, it is quite common for Irish medical students to leave the country after they graduate. With the current state of the healthcare system and uncertain career prospects, many young doctors had no choice but to seek greener pastures abroad.
Pishoy Gouda, an international student from Canada studying medicine in Ireland, and his team conducted a research to determine why Irish students are keen on leaving the country after graduation. In their research paper “Ireland’s Medical Brain Drain: Migration Intention of Irish Medical Students,” they have discovered things that would shock and sadden those who are counting on the services of these young medical professionals.
According to Gouda, out of 1,519 medical students, 88% of them had already decided or were thinking of migrating after they finished their intern training. As he has progressed into his final year of medical school and experienced serving as an intern at Irish hospitals, Gouda said he can perfectly understand where these students are coming from.
Most junior doctors in Ireland feel that they are overworked and under-appreciated. So it isn’t surprising that 83% of medical students surveyed are considering leaving the country due to poor working conditions at local hospitals and medical centres.
Gouda believes that something must be done as soon as possible to put an end to Ireland’s medical brain drain.
“Let’s conservatively estimate that it costs €100,000 to train a medical student from first year until they graduate. So the loss of those medical students who stated they were definitely going to migrate (34 per cent), represents a potential loss of over €51 million of taxpayer money. This is a very crude estimate. However, the message is still clear. Urgent interventions are needed for the sustainability of the Irish healthcare workforce,” he said.
Gouda and his research team offered some suggestions on how the government can convince medical students to stay instead of leaving the country right after graduation. He said the medical post graduate training system has to change as 85% of students indicated that career opportunities and progression can affect their decision to stay.
He also noted that the HSE has been recruiting doctors from abroad over the past decade to deal with the shortage. However, there are many medical students graduating from Irish medical schools who are not given job offers.
The Irish healthcare system is currently in a precarious situation, Gouda warned. If the government fails to address the current workforce shortage, more and more Irish medical students will leave the country in the future.